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Transcript of video:(dated June, 2005)

Sr. Ann Flaska

All right, I'm Sr. Ann Flaska, originally I'm from Chicago . And formerly I was known as Sr. Consuela.

Now, I'd like to tell you about St. Francis reading center. It originated, I think it was in 1956.

I was living at St. Francis Convent teaching first grade at the school. We were washing; it was my turn to do the pots and pans after supper. Low and behold, the phone rings. Sr. Joseph Marie was the portress; she goes to the room there to answer. She comes back and she says to me, "Connie, Mother Immaculate wants you. She wants to talk to you." I thought, oh sure, so does the Pope and we kept on with the pots and pans. "No, come on. It's really Mother Immaculate." So she pulls at me, we went to the phone and sure enough it was Mother Immaculate.

She said "Now Sr. Consuela, I want you to come." Now I forget the date she told me I was supposed to come in to have a meeting with Sr. Dolores and with Sr. Esther and Sr. Jane. Now Sr. Jane is Merwyn's sister. I don't know her last name and Sr. Esther. So I came back to the kitchen and I said "Nuns, guess what! I'm going to teach at the College." We were laughing. So I was telling them the message.

All right, the following week we went for this meeting and sure enough, there was Sr. Dolores. And I liked her. I lived with her my first year in Johnstown . She was at the high school and I was in the grammar school. And she was very good to me. All right, and there was Sr. Jane and Esther and Eleanor, and I'm telling you, I was a beginner teacher. I was scared to death. Because these other three nuns, they were three now first grade teachers in their order. What was I doing there?

But anyway, so Sr. Dolores was very nice and she had this organized. Now Sr. Dolores was head of the Education Department. And at that time, each department was supposed to think of a project for fund-raising.

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Now she had the practice teachers, and she says there's a need for children who are in need of extra help in reading. So she asked Mother Immaculate if she could do this project and have some of our Sisters. So we four were in the original group. And I know there's some discrepancy among our Sisters, there are two other nuns, they claim that they were in the group, but they weren't.

Because we started at the College and guess what room I had? Sr. Vincent's Biology room. All the desks were piled up there and here was my table and chairs for the students. And we had two groups, six students in each group. And I think it was for an hour and a half. And I remember at the second or third day, we had a little meeting with Sr. Dolores. And I said to her, you know this student, he's a sixth grader, but he's only doing third grade instructional level. Why did you have that? I never learned that in my Education courses.

So she explained about this chronological level, the reading level, instructional level. It was interesting because I was always interested in a slow learner. Okay, so then I was fine. Then it was toward the end of that week, I get another call from Mother Immaculate. "Come to the office with Sr. Edna." So I get there and she said, "You're free in the afternoon. We want you to give a reading course to the novices." Oh my goodness, so okay.

We had the Faith and Freedom series. And I had to borrow charts from St. Joe's, Sr. Andrea had first grade over there. And I was told; concentrate on the second year novices because they're the ones that are going to go out teaching first okay. Then poor Sr. Dolores, she got excited, she says "but I don't want you to cheat on your lesson plan, in preparation for these students." "Don't worry Sister, I will do it. I know what to do. I'll do it, okay."

So then the next year, was very nice, she was very generous to us Sr. Dolores. I remember her from mission; she was really good to me. I was tempera profess, I can't tell you all the things that she did for me. Well anyway, she would treat us to bars of candy. Also for the children, like July 4th, each of us nuns got a packet to give to each student you know.

All right, then the next year the enrollment grew and we didn't have room at the College. So we had to negotiate with Farragut School, its right around the corner. I think it's still there isn't it? Yeah. And of course the faculty grew, you know.

Then the next year, I was sent to Chicago because Chicago began the, what did they call it, the remedial reading groups. And our station of our order was at St. Procopius. Sr. Joseph Marie was supposed to be our principal. We had so much fun.

There was six of us and those nuns didn't know anything about phonics. I can still hear Sr. Judith hollar at me "Connie, phonics!" I used to write out the lesson plan, phonics lesson plan, for each one of them in the afternoon. Then we started. It was very interesting, all right.

And I was glad that I had that little bit of a background with Sr. Dolores. Because in Chicago at St. Procopius I had five eighth grade students, four of them were boys and the other one was a girl, and they were reading on a pre-primer level; way down there. But the Sister that was our Superintendent was Sr. Alcuin from Cardinal Stritch's order in Milwaukee . She gave us wonderful books. And she taught us also how, see there are older children but they're reading on a low level, however you give them books on a high interest level. For example, for some of them I had books on animals, another book I had on transportation, but the vocabulary was down below. It was an education itself for me.

Well anyway, going back to this College business and Farragut School. When we were at Farragut, Sr. Dolores was good to us. She made sure we had pop and juices and cookies during our break. We had two groups, okay. And later on, I came back from the Chicago, from St. Procopius, we moved to St. Peter and Paul. And at that place, Sr. Lorraine Young became our principal there.

Then after a couple years, I was lucky enough and I was chosen, I was trained to teach English, for a second language. And I remember I had two groups, we called it low language and high language. Low language were students up to the fifth grade or fourth grade. And the others were from fifth grade through high school.

And wonderful material. And I learned when you teach them, you have to have the real objects. For example, you know the words are so similar. What can I give you for an example? Oh, let's say the word color. What color is this? And then collar. If you say those two words, there's such a close similarity there, color collar. So you must have the objects. I had to have a tray, a real tray. And I remember how I had asked the two Sisters that were cooks, could you get me for school tomorrow, could you get me two hard boiled eggs that I could take to school. And I was embarrassed because this one nun says that poor Sr. Consuela, she must work real hard, she gets hungry and juices and cookies are not enough for her for a break.

And I had to tell them afterwards, no, that I had sentences about eggs, so I had to have a hard boiled egg. And I remember this high school girl, you say the sentence and as you say the sentence, you dramatize. I put the egg on the tray. When it was her turn, she said, "I put the tray on the egg." The other girls, they got the funny of it, and anyway.

Now after, I don't know how many years; I came back to the reading center. By that time, the reading center was at the Motherhouse at 520. And I think it was Sr. Elizabeth Ann that was in charge.

But you know we had the same kind of books, we charged the same things. I remember we charged $25 for registration. Sr. Dolores did all the testing. When we came in for class, those children were all tested. We knew what level they were on and all that kind of business. Now over here, we Sisters had to do the testing on the first day of school, you know.

Well then after a couple of years, I was assigned as Director of the reading center. So I lived at the Motherhouse. I revamped the program because as I said I was interested in the slow learner. And I had been reading about home learning, home teaching, you know. We didn't have a computer down there. So I went to Sister, who was in charge? Oh Sister, what's the one, she's working with Sister, your Sister Ann. She used to be on the Council member.

Anyway, I said could you get me a computer like you got for the Sisters at the Motherhouse? She says "Oh well, that's for the nuns. I got that through a grant." And I said, "Well I just thought I would ask, you know." So here, a couple days later, I'm being paged. The man wants to know where you want the computers. We got two computers. My next thing is how am I going to get this program put in, ya know, reading program. Sr. Margaret Duffy and her niece Sr. Margaret Hoffman; Sr. Margaret had a brother and her niece, one of her nieces was in charge of finances. So they asked her, could you donate money for this reading center? Which she did; and that's how I got the reading program on the computer. I'm still using it.

Was it two years ago we had to move out of the Motherhouse because it was being sold? And little by little, the Sisters on my faculty were getting sick and dying. And so here I am like the Lone Ranger. I'm the only one left. I have a very nice room right around the corner here. Sr. Mary and I should show it to you. And I have a computer here, the other computer we put into the business office where Sr. Janet works.

But anyway, I enjoyed it very much and I still enjoy it. And I figured God blessed me with good health. You know I had a knee replacement, I'm walking around, I use stairs, and so on and so forth. So, when you have good health you should really use it in service of others. And besides, I do Chapel work in the morning. So here I am, blessed. Now, I would have to say Amen, Hallelujah.