Mesha Scheipeter walked from one student’s desk to another checking their work. Later, a line of eager students formed at her desk to get more input on their work.
The fifth-grade students at Holy Cross Academy were creating storyboards to illustrate comparisons and use adjectives. Scheipeter explained metaphors — “I’m a turtle because I go slow” — and similes — “I’m as slow as a sloth.”
Scheipeter was awarded the Affton Chamber of Commerce’s Exceptional Educator’s Award earlier this year. She has taught in Catholic education for more 20 years — for about 10 years at St. Joan of Arc School in St. Louis and, after a break, at Holy Cross Academy, first on the St. Michael Parish campus and then at the Our Lady of Providence Parish campus. She currently teaches English, reading and religion.
Scheipeter wanted only to teach in a Catholic school, having attended Catholic schools herself through Fontbonne University. “It’s what I know — the values and the different things we’re allowed to teach them that they’re not going to get in a public school,” she said. “It’s how I grew up, it’s what I believe.”
She incorporates the religious aspect into subjects beyond religion class, such as the topics students are asked to write about in English class. Prayer is a constant presence in her classroom.
A visit to her classroom shows that Scheipeter has a passion for helping her students, motivating them to perform to the best of their abilities and celebrating their academic successes, such as when she praised their storyboards and their ability to follow directions. Her enthusiasm, she said, aims to fill her students with a love for lifelong learning and a thirst for reading.
With a background that includes a bachelor’s degree in education and three certificates in special education, she works one-on-one with struggling learners, providing the tutoring they need. Scheipeter gives credit to others, noting that Holy Cross Academy’s faculty works as a team.
In their nomination letter to the Affton Chamber of Commerce, Holy Cross administrators wrote that Scheipeter “has had tremendous influence on her students with creative projects in her classroom” and “always puts her students first with a very individualized curriculum plan … attuned to their social and emotional needs. She treats each one of her students with great dignity and respect. She has helped us create a positive environment that is child-oriented and focuses on building self-esteem through high standards and well-designed instruction.”
A parishioner of St. Francis of Assisi in Oakville who calls Holy Cross Academy her second home, Scheipeter has led the school’s community food drive for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, mentored the student council, directed the mime presentation of the Passion of Our Lord during Lent and organized the Mass in Spanish for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe, among other school activities. She serves as a mentor to younger teachers and coordinated and coached students in the Bellarmine Speech League.
With her family, Scheipeter supports the World Pediatric Project’s partnership with the Ronald McDonald House for families of children who come from Central America and the Caribbean to St. Louis hospitals for complex surgical needs and have nowhere to stay. Among the activities there that the Scheipeters have assisted with are birthday parties for the children.
>> Holy Cross Academy
• Consists of a campus-based education model that brings together a community of children ages 2-14.
• Has its early education center at St. John Paul II Parish in Affton; a primary campus at St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Shrewsbury (kindergarten through second grades); an intermediate campus at Our Lady of Providence Parish in Crestwood (third through fifth grades); and a middle school campus at Annunciation Parish in Webster Groves (sixth through eighth grades).
• Helps children be prepared for a successful high school experience with a foundation for living a life in Christ.