Fall 2021 Spirit: A Reflection by Jake Lukasiewicz, Social Science Department Chair

My journey at St. Thomas More began in the fall of 2015. I was a 21-year-old college student studying education at Marquette, and I was assigned to observe STM social science department chair Kevin Gleeson.

I learned so much from my short time in the school, and I requested to complete my student teaching at STM the following semester. Over the course of the semester, my goal remained the same: get my degree and return home to Chicago to find a teaching job and be closer to my now-wife, Monica.

As the semester came to a close, one issue stood in the way of my goal — I couldn’t leave this place. STM had become home to me. So much so, in fact, that rather than returning home to Chicago, I accepted a position to join the same department I had been assigned to observe a year prior. Monica made the move north to join me, and six years later, we now consider Milwaukee our home for life. Heck, as I sit here writing this piece, I am wearing a Bucks sweatshirt. Go Bucks!

Why was this place so special to me? Why did I decide to uproot my plan to join this school community?

If you ask our alumni, teachers, parents, or students why STM is so special, you are bound to get several different answers. But I can guarantee that answer will somehow include “the people.”

Home can be defined by geography, memories, even construction. But those things change. STM is home because of the special people who made it what it is today and my passionate colleagues, who work tirelessly to build upon this tradition of excellence.

I could go on about the STM’s history of great educators. From the current and recent teachers who have directly impacted me to the legendary teachers of past decades, STM’s legacy of exceptional educators inspires me to continue their tradition.

We are lucky to have engaged and supportive parents, dedicated coaches and volunteers, and a nationwide network of alumni who still think of STM as home too. I would be remiss, however, if I did not mention the people who truly made this place my “home” — our students.

St. Thomas More students are special in so many ways, but I most admire their kindness, their diversity, and their spirit. Our students bring such beautiful differences and rich heritage to the classroom, and they truly appreciate and respect each other’s cultures. STM students also have an infectious spirit; they can turn a classroom discussion into an unforgettable inside joke or a theoretically mundane lesson into an 82-minute party.

Our job as educators is to support our students and help them grow, but I cannot tell you how often I feel supported by our students and how they have helped me grow as a human being.

Just a few weeks ago, I sat at my desk swamped with grading and realized I would be staying after work longer than anticipated. Just then, I heard a knock at my door. It was a student I had from class in years past but had not seen in a while. She walked in, handed me a juice box, and said, “Happy birthday, Mr. L. I miss your class.” I’m constantly in awe of the kind and thoughtful acts, however small, carried out by our students both in school and in the community.

During homecoming week, I saw our students together in the Jerry Huennekens Gymnasium for STM’s first pep rally since 2019. I saw our diversity scattered throughout the bleachers. I saw kindness and school spirit on display as our MCs encouraged students to cheer on their classmates and support our student-athletes. After a challenging year away from each other, I looked around the gym and thought, “It’s good to be home.”

Jake Lukasiewicz holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and History. He joined the STM faculty in 2016 and has taught World History, US
History, Modern American Issues, Crime and Justice, AP Microeconomics, AP Macroeconomics, and AP Psychology. He has been a member of the boys’
basketball staff as a JV2 or JV coach since 2016.

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