Sister teaches younger brother at Holy Family Academy

| January 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

Teacher Becca Reinhardt of Holy Family Academy in St. Louis Park helps her younger brother, Sam, during class. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Fifth-graders in teacher Becca Reinhardt’s class at Holy Family Academy in St. Louis Park were asked if she shows favoritism to one particular student, Sam.

“Yes,” one boy loudly exclaimed.

“No,” others said.

“She favors all of us,” still another student said.

In the end, the vote appeared split.

It was an important question. Sam is Becca’s younger brother. Uncommon in any school, Becca, 24, saw it coming when she was hired three years ago as a fifth-grade teacher. Sam was in third grade at the time.

“It’s definitely one of the first things that crossed my mind [after getting hired],” she said. “Like, ‘Oh man, if I stay here for three years, I could teach Sam.’”

That was a definite plus for her, since Holy Family “was pretty much my dream school,” she said, noting the good experiences her other siblings had there, plus her positive impression of the way the school forms students in the Catholic faith.

A 2014 graduate of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, with a degree in elementary education, Becca applied for openings in both fifth and second grade, and she was leaning toward second grade. Fifth grade was the position offered, and she eagerly accepted.

Becca grew up attending Holy Family parish, where she is still a member. Holy Family Academy opened in 1958 but closed in 1991 after enrollment declined. It reopened in 2001. Becca was a student at Visitation School in south Minneapolis, which closed in 2008.

She narrowly missed teaching her brother, Drew, who was in sixth grade when she started. That left only Sam as a possibility, as he was the youngest of Jim and Nadine Reinhardt’s 10 children. Becca is No. 4.

“I was really excited for it [teaching Sam],” Becca said. “He and I have always been buddies. I think my mom can attest to this. When he was a baby, he favored me for a long time. … So, when I was thinking about teaching him, I knew that we already had a good relationship.”

She also knew that the relationship would have to change, not only for his sake, but also for the sake of the other 23 students in the class, who likely would be watching closely to see if Sam would get special treatment.

“Because I had a good enough relationship with him, I wasn’t worried,” she said. “I specifically sat him down at the end of last year and said, ‘Sam, I’m really excited to be your teacher and I’m really excited that you’re going to be in my class, but our relationship is going to need to be a little different at school than it is at home. So, be aware of that.’”

Sam was good with it then, and is good with it now.

“I see how she treats everyone else, and she seems to treat me the same way,” he said, explaining why he doesn’t think she favors him. “She’s a good teacher.”

Principal Jim Grogan agrees.

“She’s very giving, she’s very spiritual,” he said. “I didn’t have any concerns at all about her teaching her brother. I knew she was a professional and I wouldn’t have to worry about her showing favoritism. On the flip side of it, Sam is a really easygoing, low maintenance kid. He just loves learning, and he wouldn’t ever try to take advantage of the fact that his sister was the teacher.”

If anything, Becca noted, she may be a little tougher on Sam than on the other students. That serves to keep him on his toes.

Plus, she has an added bit of big sister leverage: “I hear a lot more about what he does at home because of my mom,” Becca said, “so I’ll know if he doesn’t do his homework.”

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Category: Catholic Schools Week