By STEPHEN O'KANE, Staff Writer | Published February 18, 2010
Marta Lane grew up in a home where learning was greatly valued. She describes it as a “Q and A home,” where family members were always sharing trivia or little nuggets of information. The excitement for learning that was nurtured at that young age has stuck with Lane over time and throughout her 34 years of teaching.
Lane, or “Señora Lane” as she is known to her students, teaches Spanish to all grade levels at Immaculate Heart of Mary School and she has been with the Atlanta school for nearly 20 years. She was chosen to represent IHM as the outstanding employee of the year to be honored at the third annual education banquet held by the Office of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Atlanta at the end of the annual Catholic Schools Week celebrations.
While Lane admits she wants to be the center of attention in her classroom, it was a little different for her to be in this sort of spotlight. It was also her first time attending the banquet.
“I was a nervous wreck,” she said. “But it was wonderful—good food and great people.”
Back in the classroom, Lane simply shines. The children love the interactive style of her teaching and are eager to answer questions or run to the front of the class to prove their skills on the dry erase board. She even incorporates some singing and dancing into her curriculum.
She feels that, especially for the younger students, getting them active and moving really helps them absorb the lessons.
“Once you give a kid a piece of paper, they become attached to it,” she said, adding that handouts can sometimes distract students rather than aiding them during the classroom lesson.
The program at IHM is designed for enrichment rather than an actual language-intensive course. It is meant to help students prepare to take full-time language courses once they move on to high school and college.
For Lane, who is married with three children, teaching foreign languages in schools is very important, especially since multiculturalism in America is growing so rapidly.
“We depend on a lot of countries, and a lot of countries depend on us. We are not alone here. … It is always nice to be able to speak to someone in their native language,” she said.
Lane attended IHM School when she was younger and was also baptized, confirmed and married at the Atlanta parish. She and her husband Steve have since moved and now are parishioners at Holy Cross Church, Atlanta.
Lane said the banquet gave her the chance to meet other educators in Catholic schools in metro Atlanta and also visit with old friends to cherish what the night really honored: a solid, Catholic-based education.
As an alumna of IHM and a parent of children who also experienced Catholic education in Atlanta, Lane knows how valuable a good education is. She comes from a family of teachers; her father was an industrial management teacher for college-level students, while her mother taught both English and Spanish.
Lane describes the Catholic education experience as community-oriented, where parents and students are surrounded by support from all angles.
“Prayer is there for you all the time,” she said. “(Catholic education) has changed, but it still has kept that.”
“My children have gotten a lot out of their Catholic education,” she added. “It turned out to be a wonderful experience. … It really is a community.”