High school freshmen are a special breed, and teaching them is pure joy for Anthony Fior ’02. He teaches four sections of freshman Theology and enjoys the boys’ energy and fresh perspective.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he says, and appreciates their often goofy senses of humor and references to popular culture, much of which Fior wouldn’t otherwise catch because of his busy, adult life. Most of all, he says, teaching Theology is an opportunity to orient freshmen at the beginning of their Saint Ignatius experience to what it means to be loving, young men.
“I enjoy asking important life questions, getting them to think about what kind of young men they’re going to be, and reminding them to be good sons, brothers, and grandsons,” says Fior. He’s also focused on helping students feel a sense of belonging.
“It’s important to make them feel comfortable at their school, to build community,” he says. Fior’s pastoral approach comes naturally – he was a full-time Campus Minister for his first three years at Saint Ignatius. The 2017-18 school year is his first as a full-time teacher in the Theology Department.
Soon after Fior was hired in Campus Ministry, Jim Skerl became too ill to teach, and Fior was asked to take over his Theology class. He found it terrifying to be asked to fill in for such a beloved teacher, but soon became confident.
“I think my heart is really in the classroom,” Fior says, and Theology has always been his central interest. He received a B.A. in Theology and History, a Master’s degree in Systematics Theology, and a Doctorate in Education from St. Louis University. He has worked as a teacher at two other schools, including DeSmet Jesuit in St. Louis. He has lived his faith since he was a student at Saint Ignatius, serving on (and later organizing) mission and immersion trips to many places including El Salvador, Louisville, West Virginia, and the Dominican Republic.
This year, Fior has the added responsibility of teaching in the AP Capstone Program. The course is a research class housed in the Theology department, incorporating topics of morality and ethics. It’s a unique combination and therefore has no template or examples to follow, but Fior is rising to the challenge. This is in addition to serving as head coach for the JV-B (freshmen) soccer team, and juggling the responsibilities of new fatherhood. Fior and his wife, Molly, have a one-year-old son, Harry.
Fior attributes his passion for education and living the Gospel to the many incredible teachers he had at Saint Ignatius.
“Fr. Ober, Jim Brennan, Joe Popelka, Mike McLaughlin – they are my heroes. They are all great men, and I really admire them. They formed me as an educator. They had a great way of letting kids know they cared about them, and just had high expectations,” says Fior.
The teachers Fior admired as a student are now his colleagues, and the admiration appears to be mutual.
“Anthony has a sharp mind, a self-deprecating sense of humor, and a genuine love of his students and players that has won him their respect and trust. He, in turn, respects and trusts them--holding them to high academic and personal standards,” says Jim Brennan, now a fellow Theology teacher. “To a generation that craves authenticity, Anthony stands as an authentic disciple of Jesus, husband and father, and man of the Church,” he says.