OUR LADY OF VICTORY Faculty
Garrett Cichowitz comes to us from Dominion Christian School, a classical Christian K-12 school in Reston, Virginia. At Dominion, Garrett taught theology, and developed and administered both the school’s house system (akin to the Chesterton model) and college guidance program. He also built Dominion’s first athletics program, including conference champion-winning cross-country teams. Garrett has a Master’s in Independent School Leadership from the Klingenstein Program at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York and this Easter, celebrated his one-year anniversary of joining the Catholic Church. Garrett combines a passion for the craft of teaching in the liberal arts, strong personal faith, demonstrated leadership skills, and administrative acumen.
When I first began my career as an educator seven years ago, a mentor said to me, “The best education is over the shoulder and through the heart.” His words rang true because of his example. He had deeply impacted me in the way he shared his life, his wisdom, and - most of all - the abundant love he had first received from God. In a similar way, I hope to incarnate the immense love and faithfulness God has given to me with you.
Over the past seven years, I have had the privilege of developing and teaching theology curriculum at Dominion Christian School, a coed classical Christian school for grades K-12th in Reston, Virginia. I am passionate about mentoring adolescents and desire to continue offering my creative passions to cultivate formational places of learning both in and out of the classroom. Over my tenure, I built the school’s first athletics program, starting with a high school cross-country team. I added a middle school team, pursued membership in a local athletics conference, and led the program to win multiple conference championships. As Dominion’s needs grew, I took on new responsibilities. I was tasked with researching, developing, and overseeing a new student government house system. My interest in school leadership led me to pursue a master’s degree in independent school leadership with the Klingenstein Program at Teachers College, Columbia University. Since that time, I also developed Dominion’s college guidance program.
This Easter I celebrated my one-year anniversary of joining the Catholic Church. It is a year that will forever stand in my life as a milestone of God’s immense faithfulness. While I can’t explain my whole story here, I can tell you that obeying the Lord’s call to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church was an act of faithful obedience that I knew would impact my career and my community.
It is no coincidence that it was the day after Easter Sunday that I received the offer to join the faculty of Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Victory.
In 1 Samuel 7:12 Samuel has recently been established as priest and judge over all of Israel. One of his first public acts is to set up a stone as a memorial calling it Ebenezer, which means, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” Indeed, who among us can say otherwise in our own lives?
Christina Praetzel graduated Summa Cum Laude from Franciscan University with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematical Science, loves singing and music, has participated in the National Piano Guild for nine years and completed two half marathons.
Immediately following graduation from Franciscan University with a degree in Mathematics, I accepted a summer internship as an analyst at Nationwide Insurance. At the end of the internship, I decided to try something new. I had heard about a mission trip to Belize, where teachers were needed at a secondary school. Within a short time, I applied, packed my bags, and headed south to teach four classes of forty students each in a foreign country. This was when I came to know the impact of such a calling as being a teacher. My students looked up to me as a role model and guide for steps to take in the Faith.
Upon my return to Ohio, I began working as an insurance analyst once again, but the richness was missing from my career. That is when God began speaking to me through one of my favorite verses from Matthew Chapter 18 regarding children: “Unless you become like the least of these, you shall not enter the kingdom of Heaven.” I knew that I needed to work with children and to learn from them to be forever childlike.
I spent two years near Cleveland as an assistant at a Montessori school with toddlers, while simultaneously tutoring Mathematics at Lakeland Community College and volunteering as a first grade teacher for the local Parish School of Religion. My time was consumed with teaching, and though tiring, I found unspeakable fulfillment in my life. As my second year came to a close, I could feel the pull on my heart to take another step forward and pursue something with more responsibility; It was time to be the classroom leader.
Since youth I had wanted to move westward, where I could be more fully alive with my high energy for hiking and my desire to “live in the mountains” (or at least spend weekends camping in them), so I began my search in Colorado. When I saw Our Lady of Victory’s call for a Mathematics and Science teacher, I felt that this was going to be the path for me. I met some of the kindest, most generous families when I came out for my interview, and I am so happy that I will be blessed to develop friendships with them and all of you.
Having the opportunity to explore the terrain in conjunction with our Science lessons and discovering the meaning of absolute Truth through our logical proofs in Mathematics will set the stage for an upcoming year of greatness. I can hardly wait for our classes and our future school adventures as we come to know our Creator by means of His Divine artistry: the world surrounding us. I pray that God blesses all of you in our adventure through Our Lady of Victory.
I grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, the youngest of seven children. I attended Catholic schools from first grade through undergraduate college. I earned a Music Education degree from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas and a Master’s degree in vocal performance from Arizona State University. I began my musical career at seventeen years old when I took my first job as a choir director in St. Anthony-St. Mary Catholic Church. Since then I have taught music to students from five to seventy-five, taught college, worked as a singer, served as a liturgist, and served as a music director at various churches in Kansas, Arizona, Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. I have enjoyed singing in operas, oratorios, masses and directing musicals and operettas. A career highlight was singing with The Kansas City Chorale under the direction of Charles Bruffy for seven seasons. I have sung on several recordings that have garnered 12 Grammy nominations and 1 recording, “Life and Breath,” that won the Grammy for Best Chorale Performance in 2012. Currently, I sing with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir under the direction of Timothy Krueger. I have also enjoyed teaching private voice lessons for almost thirty years and have been fortunate to have had many talented students.
Currently, I serve as the music director for Pax Christi Catholic Church in south Littleton. I am the proud father of six wonderful children, several of whom are talented musicians. I have had, through the grace of God, many great musical experiences with many great directors. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with the students of Our Lady of Victory.
I have loved art since I was a child. I was always drawing and practising and trying to get better. In college, I studied illustration at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design and wanted to improve my drawing especially by focusing on classical approaches.
After that I took a trip to Europe and I was deeply inspired by the wealth of beauty in the many museums there. This inspired me to pursue painting further and I went to Colorado State University for a Masters in fine art. While I was there I continued to think about the meaning behind a work of art. I continue to challenge myself to add different approaches to my work and to find beauties in new places.
My current work explores combining styles of work into one. From thick and rich paint to trompe l'oeil realism - the combinations allow me to speak of worlds beyond our world and the ways they may interact. My faith is deeply embedded in my work and I see them as an image of what sacramentality can look like.
I currently work as an online professor at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. I also do side work illustrating as well as showing in galleries. I am connected to the Aggiornamento co-op that shows annually at the Knights of Columbus downtown.
I am the old man of the faculty, having taught in independent and archdiocesan schools for about twenty years. I have taught just about every subject, but at Our Lady of Victory I will be teaching Latin, in which subject I received my BA from Loyola in Chicago in 1972. I have worked part time and later full time at Safeway in the meat department, have played organ in several churches, and worked at several other jobs. Divine Providence is surprising and kind. Here I am about to teach Latin again.
I taught music at St. Louis there in Englewood for the three years before its closure, so I am more or less back at home. This coming year will mark my third year teaching, very part time, at Sts. Peter and Paul in Wheat Ridge.
I have been married for forty-three years and am the father of four daughters and a son, with the ninth grandchild arriving two weeks ago. My second daughter is a Dominican with the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, and my third daughter left the nursing profession to enter St. Walburga's Benedictine Monastery about two years ago.
I am active in the Eastern Rite Ukrainian Catholic Church, where I sing in the choir.
Anna Polley is a magna cum laude graduate of Christendom College where she received her BA in Philosophy. Her time at Christendom gave her a great appreciation of the beauty of the liberal arts education and a deep love for the Catholic Faith. She spent several years working in Catholic schools before deciding to homeschool her own children using a classically-inspired curriculum which she has been doing for the last 9 years. Anna and her husband of 17 years and their four children reside in Littleton, CO and attend St. Mary’s parish.