Because We Are Catholic: A Volunteer Teaches Students That Good Writing is Really Cool

Debbie Kopp has occupied some pretty big chairs during her 35-year career in education, including that of school principal. Now that she is retired, some of her favorite time is spent in the tiny chairs of a kindergarten class.

For the past three years, she has volunteered her Tuesday afternoons giving one-on-one writing lessons to five- and six-year-olds at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Bethlehem Township. The kids call her “Nanni” Kopp.

Writing is a critical skill. It is fundamental to a Catholic school student’s success in higher grades, and in life. It is also a skill best taught from an early age.

“Knowing how to put your thoughts down on paper is really, really important,” Kopp said. That’s especially true in a time when putting pencil to paper has been replaced by texting, email and other technologies.

“Writing is really a means of thinking,” she said. “With this program, we are modeling the importance of writing to these children.”

Kopp customizes her instruction to the individual skills of each student. Sometimes it’s a focus on sounds and words; other times, it involves whole sentences. She’s also worked with teachers in other grade levels at the school to keep the momentum going as students advance.

“I love it here,” she said, taking a break from the bustling classroom full of eager learners, colorful supplies, and cubbies stuffed with book bags and winter coats. “What we are doing is building the idea that good writing is really cool.”

“Because We Are Catholic” tells the stories of how the people of the Diocese of Allentown make a difference in the lives of others, bringing the Light of Christ to each other and to our community.