(COVINGTON, La.) — Austin Ashcraft, beloved religion teacher who took a two-year hiatus from teaching at St. Paul’s to earn a Masters in Theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, returned to SPS this school year to teach 10th and 12th grade Religion.
Ashcraft, who earned an undergraduate degree in Theology from Franciscan University, enjoys sparking debate among his students by asking them to compare atheism to theism. He encourages questioning because “in order to believe in God, you don’t have to check your intellect at the door,” he said. Ashcraft said that he learns from his students through the course of the year. When asked what his students have taught him, Ashcraft responded with a laugh and said, “I don’t know as much as I thought I did.” However, debate is not his only teaching method. His curriculum includes the implementation of music to aid his lessons because the songs have religious or moral themes. One song he analyzes with his students is “The Cave” by Mumford and Sons. According to Ashcraft the song focuses on “…the freedom of self-discovery of who you are and not just having to fit a certain mold.”
Outside the classroom, Ashcraft spends his free time involved with Confirmation classes and Young Life groups focused around the Catholic faith. “Young Life at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Mandeville has had a very large impact on my life,” said Senior Michael Phillipe. “I fell in love not only with the peace that I received during times of Adoration and prayer, but also with the sincerity and kindness of all the people who regularly went to Youth Group,” he added.
Other than participating in faith-centered activities, Ashcraft said he “may or may not moonlight as a professional Ping Pong player.” He said he’s looking forward to the school year ahead and “hopes to challenge and be challenged.”