The Kaeding Family - CATHEDRAL SCHOOL
Story by Erin Foley
"The environment at Cathedral School has not only allowed Amara to flourish socially, but she loves learning..."
-- Tim Kaeding

The Kaeding Family, Cathedral School

Think back to the time when you were barely out of your toddler years and starting school. For many, it was pure excitement; for others, pure dread. Most of Amara Kaeding's initial experiences with school were of the dreaded variety. Large groups of children made her anxious; she cowered, cried and clung to her mother, and a year and a half before school even began, she was already losing sleep anticipating it. Her parents Tim and Tara were concerned because Amara had always been a confident and happy-go-lucky kid, until an altercation with an aggressive child at a summer cooking class set the anxiety in motion.

They enrolled Amara in a Lutheran pre-school, which she loved -- for the first few days. She was sensitive to the noise level whenever all the grades assembled -- in the chapel, for instance -- and it frightened her. Tim and Tara examined their options and decided that their resident school district of Rochester (they live in Roby) would be too big for Amara. They decided they had to find a smaller school with a caring attitude, and that a Catholic school would be a good place to start. Then they "stumbled into" Cathedral, as Tara puts it, although she'd been attending church there for over 20 years.

At a Cathedral spaghetti dinner, the Kaedings learned about a school open house which they attended. They met another parent whose child had similar adjustment problems. She told them how accommodating the school was. Amara felt really comfortable at Cathedral, and before you know it, she was enrolled.

"The teachers and staff are very professional and personable" says Tara. "We did experience some anxiety early on, but because they allowed me to walk her to class and sit with her while she started her day, Amara overcame it quickly. We also discovered if she could get in the classroom before it became noisy, she was able to focus and get settled for her day. This would not have been allowed in public school. When a teacher has to keep track of 20 plus children, a child with any issues becomes a problem. She would have been expected to be a 'big girl' -- after all, she is five."

Tim grew up in Thawville, Illinois and earned a B.S. in Computer Engineering from U of I and an MBA from UIS. He has worked at Perten Instruments for the last six years as Technical Services Manager. Tara grew up in Springfield and attended LLCC and SIU Carbondale, where she studied Electrical Engineering. She works as a bookkeeper at First Presbyterian Church. Tara readily admits that school was not her "cup of tea," which is why it is so important to her and Tim that Amara gets the right start.

"Funny enough, I never found the love of education because my kindergarten and first grade teachers scared the living daylights out of me! I found if I simply sat quietly and did an okay job, I was considered a good student, which did not encourage me to love the process" says Tara.

Because Tim and Tara understood the importance of liking school from an early age, they hoped their decision to send Amara to Cathedral would have that result. After about a month, their worries subsided and Amara's confidence and independence returned.

"The environment at Cathedral School has not only allowed Amara to flourish socially, but she loves learning. If she continued to worry about little things throughout the day, she would not be able to love the education process. Loving and enjoying learning is wonderful to experience and makes school so much more fun" says Tim.

Tara agrees. "We could not have hoped for a better outcome. We rest easy knowing that she is in the right place, being taught and cared for by committed, loving and kind people when she is not with us" says Tara.

Amara has not only embraced kindergarten, she has become completely engaged. She loves the teachers and the staff and many subjects such as art, computers, PE and music. She enjoys field trips, crafts, recess, centers (reading & writing stations), reward time, talent shows, carnival day and assemblies. Outside of school, she participates in ballet, tap, and Hip Hop at Dance Creation Studios; clay sculpting at the Springfield Art Association; and piano lessons. She also tags along when her mother works with Helping Hands, an organization that provides meals at a nearby shelter.

"Amara really enjoys helping 'our friends' so much so that she takes her own money to buy them cookies. This year we decided we would serve the meals we provide. She was so excited to help cook and serve, but in addition, she led everyone in prayer before the meal" says Tara, who also volunteers during school recess, classroom centers, field trips and for Vacation Bible School and on the Cathedral Council of Catholic Women (CCCW).

Tim and Tara made a prudent choice for Amara's education. This circumspection characterizes many of their important decisions, such as choosing Amara's name. Tara wanted a name in keeping with the rhyming tradition of the names given to herself and her niece, Kara. Tim wanted her middle name to be Olga, after his loving and graceful grandmother.

"Tim said 'Wouldn't it be nice if her initials could be AOK?'" says Tara, "I laughed and thought how bad could it be to look in the mirror and know you're a-okay? Tim's family is German, so I searched for names of German origin and found Amara, which means eternal in German and beloved in Latin. It seemed like the right name."

Well into the school year, Amara's enthusiam about school has not waned. She wears her uniform proudly and enjoys telling people about her teachers and school whenever she gets the chance. She loves seeing other Cathedral students out and about and likes being part of a larger school community. Her parents are now experiencing great peace of mind. They probably had no idea when they named her almost six years ago just how much her initials would foretell the state of things -- once they found the right school, of course.

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