Meet Don Filiatreau
Meet Don Filiatreau
– Assistant Professor of Social Work –
If you were enrolled in Don Filiatreau’s course, Sociology of the Family, at St. Catharine College you would find as one of your required readings, The Poisonwood Bible. This 672 page novel by Barbara Kingsolver, who grew up in Kentucky, is one of many creative tools that Filiatreau uses to demonstrate the complexities of family life, and in this case, the disintegration that occurs over time.
Believing that giving something back to society is part of the educational process, Don requires an element of ‘service learning’ for each of his courses. Students in the Family Violence course are required to do service work at The Caring Place, a shelter for abused women and children in Lebanon. The concept of “Intergenerational Partner’s” is one of the goals of Don’s Interpersonal Skills course as his students are required to visit with a resident of Sansbury Care Center, a licensed nursing home located on the Campus. “Initially my students tell me that nursing homes depress them, but I always stress that the profession of social work focuses on meeting the needs of vulnerable individuals, be they infants or the elderly”, said Don. Rhonda Hutchins, director of Social Services at Sansbury, said, “The Intergenerational Partners program has been a great opportunity for the people at Sansbury. They have said that it gives them a chance to work with and teach younger people again and to make new friends in the community.” Many of these students and Sansbury residents’ relationships continue after their particular semester ends.
“I am always pleased if I have two or three non-traditional students in each of my classes”, commented Filiatreau. “Because life experience informs and seasons everyone I expect all of my students to draw on their own life stories as we discuss issues in class”, he continued. Some of the seasoning that has influenced Don’s philosophy as a teacher is no doubt because of his involvement in the civic community. Don has served on various boards, including the Nelson County Community Clinic.
THE MISSION MATTERS: In his classes Don engages his students in conversation about the role of religion in their families. This offers him the opportunity to emphasize the part of the College’s mission that respects all religious traditions. The ‘service learning’ element in his classes gives each student the chance to “develop a sense of responsibility for themselves, their community and a just society.” Clearly Don Filiatreau’s classroom encompasses all of one’s life experiences and he employs the resources of Washington, Marion and Nelson counties and beyond to make the civic community a part of the learning environment.
(Thanks to Sr. Mary Louise Edwards, O.P. for this profile.)