New SJ Faculty (Part 1)

Joe Wager ’15

As Strake Jesuit enters into another school year, we welcome a staff full of bright new teachers. An introduction is provided for a few of the new faculty members, including Mr. Love, Ms. Kowalski, and Mr. Gallagher, listed below.

If you would like to have a more indepth view of them, check out the full interviews provided:

Mr. Brendan Love is a former Jesuit novice who now works as the Retreat and Liturgy Coordinator in our Pastoral Ministry Center. To some students Mr. Love is a familiar face, as he spent the last two months as a novice at Jesuit during his “Jesuit Experiment,” a time when Jesuit novices learn the ropes of a Jesuit work of the province (typically a high school) they are assigned to. This has provided for a fairly easy transition to a new job. Mr. Love says he’s turning more Texan with time (he’s been spotted sporting a pair of cowboy boots and also has come to enjoy country music). Unfortunately, his choice in sports franchises isn’t as strong as his clothing; Mr. Love claims to be a die-hard Broncos and Nuggets–specifically Kevin Love (no relation)–fan. There’s no doubt that Mr. Love will bring new depth and insightful ideas to the Pastoral Ministry Center.

Is this your first year as a teacher?

“This is my first full year working at a school. While in the Jesuits I had brief teaching stints at Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City, Kansas; Loyola Academy in St. Louis; and Saint Peter Claver School in Punta Gorda, Belize.”

How has your Strake Jesuit experience been so far?

“I have loved my time at Jesuit so far. My transition into my new job has been easier since I spent two months here last fall as a novice on experiment. I know a lot of the students, teachers and parents from my previous time spent here.”

What do you hope to contribute to the community to make it better?

“I hope to keep strong communication about our retreat program with parents so they understand how each retreat ties in with their sons’ education here at Strake Jesuit. Strake Jesuit is also a very busy school, and one of the goals of our retreat program is to allow each student to experience some quiet reflection, both personal and communal during the course of the school year. My job is to help students build this into their lives not just on retreat, but incorporate it on a daily basis.”

Do you like sports? Which sports?

:Football and basketball are my favorite sports. I’m a diehard Denver Broncos fan. As for basketball, I’m a big fan of Kevin Love (no relation).”

 What is your favorite thing to do away from school?

“Since I am new to Houston, I am eager to explore different parts of the city, especially Memorial Park and the various Catholic parishes in town. I’ve never been to Austin, so I’d like to take a day-trip there this fall as well.”

Ms. Kristi Kowalski is no stranger to the education field as she has been a teacher for thirteen years, most recently at Corpus Christi Catholic School. She believes that everyday we can have a lasting impact on people’s lives just by doing little things. She hopes to help students to perform their work with love and sincerity. Ms. Kowalski is an outdoors person, and she often spends time hiking, kayaking, and climbing, as well as bird watching. Ms. Kowalski will make a fine addition to the foreign language department (French) and Jesuit as a whole.

Where were you before Strake?

“I was teaching at Corpus Christi Catholic School.”

What do you hope to contribute to the community to make it better?

“I believe it is through the little things we do each day that we can make a lasting impact on our community and greater society.  A smile, holding the door for others, greeting someone, or performing our works with love and sincerity.”

Do you like sports? Which sports?

“Of course!  As a participant, I enjoy swimming and baseball.  I prefer to be the spectator and Mega Fan of football, soccer, gymnastics.  I can rally around pretty much any sport.”

 What kind of music do you like?

“I listen to French music, pop, and country.”

What is your favorite thing to do away from school?

“I enjoy the outdoors.  As such, I love to go hiking, kayaking, and climbing.  I started bird watching this year as well.  You can always find me at a State or National Park experiencing all that nature has to offer.”

Mr. Kelly Gallagher enters Jesuit this year in the theology department. Before coming to SJ, he taught philosophy at Benedictine College in Kansas, but this will be his first year teaching high school students. So far Mr. Gallagher is impressed by the students and has received helpful support from his colleagues in theology and otherwise. As a teacher, he hopes to convey to his students the importance of striving towards happiness, especially in the midst of seeking God. Outside of school, Mr. Gallagher is also an outdoorsman. He enjoys being active, but also is a lover of good cinema, especially foreign movies and Captain America because he is “a baller.” Hopefully Mr. Gallagher can use his philosophical knowledge to enlighten not only his students, but the entire Jesuit community.

 Where were you before Strake?

“Before I came to Strake Jesuit, I was teaching philosophy at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.”

 What do you hope to contribute to the community to make it better?  

“I really hope to emphasize the relationship between faith and reason in my theology classes, and help people think critically about all sorts of ideas.  I also hope that all of the students that come through my classes (and others) realize that the whole point of everything that we do as humans is to try and achieve happiness.  Understanding this helps us frame everything in the right context. God communicates to us so that we might be happy.  Rules are ultimately ordered to forming us with the skills we need to become truly happy, and so on!”

 Do you like sports? Which sports?  

“I really enjoy sports, although I don’t follow them as closely as I used to.  Growing up I played a lot of different sports: football, baseball, track/field, cross country, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, rugby, swimming, and I’m sure there are some others.  I had a blast watching the World Cup this past summer and look forward to the next summer Olympics.”

 Is this your first experience with the Jesuits?  

“Formally, yes. I’ve gotten to know a few Jesuits, however, during my studies in philosophy and theology.  Recently I met Fr. Joseph Schall, S.J., at a philosophy conference, and he is an absolutely fantastic man!”

 What is your favorite thing to do away from school?  

“Away from school…what do you mean?  You think we have lives outside of this place?  Ha, just kidding (although the beginning of the year sometimes seems like that). I really enjoy being active: doing things outdoors, and swing dancing. I also have a passion for good movies (I tend to watch a lot of foreign films because they typically have better plots than your average Hollywood film – although I am mildly obsessed with the Avengers series movies, especially Captain America…the guy is a baller!)”

Stay tuned for more new faculty and staff interviews in the coming weeks.