Continuing Saint Julie's Work in South Central L.A.

Sister Sarah Cieplinski, SNDdeN sits with three students around a table

Saint Julie's Work

Talking only a few minutes about the Global Education Academy in South Central Los Angeles, Sarah Cieplinski, SNDdeN quickly described the school as, "a place of love and goodness" where adults work together to meet the needs of their inner-city students, most of whom are Hispanic, and some are African American. Sarah is in her third year at the Academy which has two campuses – K to grade 5 and Grades 6-8.

As the only Credentialed Special Education Teacher, she is the Resource Specialist Program Lead Teacher for a team of five. Team members work with individuals in the classroom and with small groups in a conference room. She has trained team members to assist with administrative responsibilities. In her role, Sarah supports the learning of all the students by collaborating with teachers to assess and address student needs. Many students in their classrooms are on Individual Education Plans (IEPs). 

COVID had a profound effect on the students. When they entered or returned to school after Covid, many more needed to be assessed and given special assistance. Some kindergarten children had minimal speech ability. Administrators and staff value Sarah’s educational background and assistance.

Sarah also enjoys working directly with children in K to grade 5 and their parents. She likes the child-centered culture of the school. Walking to and from school three days a week gives Sarah a familiarity with the neighborhood where people struggle, especially with transportation needs and with managing multiple jobs and family life. Given the students, their families, and the location, Sarah believes this is “Julie’s work.”

Connecting with Companions in Religious Life

In July 2022, Sarah joined over 100 women religious for the four-day national gathering of Giving Voice in San Antonio, Texas. The theme was Stir into Flame the Gift of Global Sisterhood. This event gives Catholic Sisters under the age of 50 an opportunity to build relationships and share their lives and dreams for their shared future together as women religious.

For over 10 years, except during COVID, Sarah, and other women religious in their 20s and 30s have attended a Giving Voice Weekend in January at Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery in Phoenix, AZ. This year Sarah was the primary planner and facilitator for the group of 12.
At the invitation of the Congregational Leadership Team, Sarah will participate in the July Julie Pilgrimage for those having made final vows during the COVID lockdown years.

Written by Sister Rita Sturwold, SNDdeN