You may know Mrs. Cecilia Powers as the co-Dean of Students here at Christian Brothers High School. However, you may not know the life of service and dedication behind her position here at CB A native of San Jose, California, Mrs. Powers went to Presentation, an all-girls Catholic high school. It was a relatively small […]
You may know Mrs. Cecilia Powers as the co-Dean of Students here at Christian Brothers High School. However, you may not know the life of service and dedication behind her position here at CB
A native of San Jose, California, Mrs. Powers went to Presentation, an all-girls Catholic high school. It was a relatively small school compared to CB, with about 420 students, and 120 students in her graduating class. Like CB, Presentation was a “close-knit and open-minded” community that supported learning and service towards the community. It was here that Mrs. Powers began to realize her calling towards community service.
“I did a ton of community service in high school and I really, really liked it,” she explained.
The teachers at her high school inspired her career path to becoming an educator as well, caring about students as a person as well as academically, a method she has utilized in her own career.
“I had great teachers who I was super close to and that is probably what led me, in lots of ways, to get involved in Catholic secondary education because I had such a great experience myself as a student.”
As a high school student, Mrs. Powers realized the importance of community service and holds it as a high priority in her life today. Even her career is one that serves others, caring for the students in the CB community and ensuring that each one is taking full advantage of what is offered to them.
Mrs. Powers grew up with a happy, Catholic family and was never left in need of anything, as her family emphasized the values of gratitude and helping others.
“I had a real awareness that I had a lot of gifts in my life,” she says. “I did not ever want for any of my basic needs, and that is something that my parents emphasized, that we need to be grateful for the gifts in our life, and that is probably what pushed me to get involved as a young person.”
This awareness, along with her family’s attitude and the strong service culture at her high school, led her towards helping others. As a student, she would volunteer with her school’s community-involvement club, working at food drives and working with Sacred Heart Social Services in San Jose, doing outreach to homeless and low-income families within the area.
“I also saw it as a social opportunity to hang out with my friends while doing something positive.”
Mrs. Powers believes that volunteering can not only help one learn about others, but themselves and the world as well.
“[You learn a lot about yourself by] getting outside of yourself and doing things for or with other people, making a contribution to the world.”
These values, along with the belief that everyone has unique contributions to make to their community, are ones that she hopes to exemplify for her family as well as the school community.
“I do believe we all have a tiny part to play in making the world a place that everyone wants to be in. We can all make a difference, even if it is just for one person or in just one way.”
However, her career as a teacher, while always in the back of her mind, was never immediately clear. After graduating from Loyola Marymount University, Mrs. Powers went to work for the Jesuit Peace Corp in Washington D.C., working for non-profit organizations, thinking that she would have a career in non-profit business administration. But after a while, she realized that her calling was to be a teacher.
“I kept education in the back of my mind, and at some point realized that it was a career path that made sense for me.”
She went back to school and received teaching credentials in Social Studies and was quickly hired here at Christian Brothers in 1994.
It is surprising to learn that even though Mrs. Powers is the Dean, she has actually filled a number of roles here on campus during her time. When she was first hired, Mrs. Powers was a full-time religion teacher. She soon transitioned into a social studies teacher and part-time religion teacher.
During her time as a teacher, she began to understand the importance of and develop relationships with students. Mrs. Powers understood that in order to keep the kids engaged in a positive way, one must be personable and relatable to them.
“Over the course of someone’s life, it is really about establishing a relationship with them and wanting them to see the bigger picture and that we all have a place in the bigger picture.”
This philosophy has helped her to develop into the caring and kind administrator we know her to be today.
After teaching for several years, Mrs. Powers became the student activities director and held that position for five years before leaving in 2006 to take care of her young family.
One might be surprised to learn that one of the most favorite and cherished traditions at CB, the labeled hearts that line the hallways on Valentines Day, was actually started by Mrs. Powers during her time as the director of student activities on campus.
She recalls putting all of the hearts up in the hallway at the crack of dawn, knowing that every single student and staff name was up there. Different from our tradition now, the hearts were left untouched for almost the entirety of the day, creating a cool and “heart-warming” visual for the students on campus.
In 2011, she began to reconsider working again and it was at this time when she was asked by Mrs. Hesser, the principal at the time, to come back as the Dean of Students we know her to be today.
Mrs. Powers’ time at CB has taught her the value and privilege of being a part of a Lasallian school.
“I love the part of the Lasallian charism that talks about being an older sibling, an older sister to our students and to provide a human and a Christian education for our students,” she says. “As a teacher in the classroom, it is less about the content and more about the relationship with students.”
This is one of her favorite aspects of Lasallian education, as she believes it is an attitude that can be applied to anyone’s life, anywhere.
The shared passion to help and guide others are what make Lasallian educators so special. The teachers, and more specifically Mrs. Powers’, willingness to teach our students and establish and maintain relationships with each individual is why Christian Brothers is so special.
Mrs. Powers explains that being a part of the faculty at CB is amazing because it allows her show younger students the “bigger picture of their lives” and guide them towards their goals, all while creating a diverse environment that brings together different people and experiences while encouraging respectful dialogue between students and allowing them to learn about those who are different from themselves.
“We all have different gifts and talents and family backgrounds and culture variances. All of those, as varied as they are, are super important and they are what make the world an interesting and amazing place. Developing relationships with students where you can encourage that respectful dialogue has always resonated with me and is a part of what I enjoy”
“It is really important that the job be done with care and concern and love and support for the individual student and for the student body as a whole and for the school”.
As it is obvious that she exemplifies all of these values, there is no doubt that Mrs. Powers is perfect for this job. Mrs. Powers also acknowledges the fact that everyone at Christian Brothers is still a young adolescent and everyone here is “a work in progress”. A person who is growing up is bound to make mistakes, and our community is lucky to have someone so understanding and caring as a role model and leader.
While her position can present some challenges, it can also be massively rewarding. She says that the most positive experiences are when a graduated student returns and realizes the blessings and great community that they experienced at Christian Brothers and how it helped to shape them into the person that they are now and to see the overall “bigger picture of their lives.”