On Catholic School education: “It’s like cement for a house. It’s the foundation for your life to make good choices and to succeed. And it’s a passport. It’s a passport to Heaven that helps you to live the right life here on earth to get there [to Heaven].” –A parent of three Catholic School students in the Diocese of Austin
In 8th grade I was sent to the Principals’ Office for the first and only time in my life. Why? I blame it on the fact that I was attending Catholic School. And, when I use the word blame, I mean that in a good way. No, not the fact that I was sent to the Principals’ Office, but the fact that someone noticed what had happened, that I was held accountable for my actions and that I had consequences for what happened. And, I think, it’s because I was attending a Catholic School.
The story is one of misunderstanding and not hearing instructions. Our class had walked to an area park with our PE teacher, and our typical instructions from her were that we had 30-45 minutes to walk/run the trails, run around and play football or Frisbee or any other PE-related activity before returning to the school building. But that day, she gave instructions that were not typical. She gave us 15 minutes of PE activity before returning to the school. But three of my classmates and I didn’t hear the time difference. And we took off for one of the walking trails.
We returned 25-30 minutes later to meet our classmates and PE teacher at our designated meeting spot. Only, no one was there. We worried about what had happened and quickly got back to the school. And immediately, we knew we were in trouble. Fortunately, the mistake was made by four of us “good kids” that rarely, if ever, caused problems. And we hadn’t been “missing” from our class for too long, maybe 20 minutes or so. We were split up to “tell our version of what happened” and we all individually told the same, truthful story to the Principal, Assistant Principal and PE teacher. But, we still had to be punished because we didn’t follow instructions.
So for a week, when the rest of our classmates walked to the park (which happened 1-2 times a day), we weren’t allowed to go.
I blame the fact that it was noticed we were missing on the fact that I was attending a Catholic School. With an eighth grade class of only nineteen, it’s easy to notice when four students are missing. I blame the fact that I was held accountable for my actions and got in trouble for them. Even though the mistake my friends and I were made was an innocent error, in life in this world and in the next, you are held accountable for your actions and inactions. And, there are consequences for both.
“Catholic schools are the best because they not only prepare students to be intelligent citizens but they prepare them to be spiritual and moral people who want to improve the lives of everyone in the world.” -A Catholic Educator in the Diocese of Austin
My husband Jerry and I, before we were even engaged, talked about how we would want to raise our kids. We talked about some of the more common parenting issues, we talked about traditions, we talked about faith and we talked about education. And for us, if we can afford it, we’ll be putting all our kids through Catholic School education.
For me both my one year in Catholic School (the reason it was only one year is a story for another blog post) and my experience working at a Catholic Church with a Catholic School (St.Ignatius, Martyr), has made me really excited to one day send our kids to Catholic School. Between the academic and faith opportunities, you find a community that is close-knit and cares. It’s an atmosphere where every child matters. And, as the motto for St.Ignatius, Martyr Catholic School states, Catholic Schools endeavor to “Develop Curious Minds, Compassionate Hearts, and Committed Lives.”
“One reason I notice why people may not enjoy Catholic education is because it associated with religion. Just the mention of religion and teens start to stop paying attention, but I appreciate those who step up to teach our youth because it is a difficult task. I applaud the passion that our Catholic educators have because we are able to see their happiness and that encourages us to learn more about our faith.” –An 11th grade Catholic School student who has been in Catholic School since Pre-K
Last year I was asked to be a part of a committee at a local Catholic School here in Austin. As a Youth Minister I work with Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers, the faculty members that invited me thought I would have some interesting perspectives and information to share. And in the process, I’ve learned even more about the hard work Catholic educators perform. I’ve been blessed to see the daily interactions of teachers and students at my parishes’ school. And the things I’ve witness have firmed up my desire to one day send my own children to Catholic Schools.
“I like it and I don’t like it. I like having other catholic students around, and I wish mass at my school was more awesome…. meaning I wish more people would participate in the mass, because most seem not to care at all… [not all students] seem to “get” the whole Catholic part of being at a Catholic School. I wish I knew a way to help them understand what it means.” –A 12th grade Catholic School student who has been in Catholic School since Elementary School
No, not everything is perfect in the schools. Nothing will ever be completely ideal and perfect in this broken world we live in. And no, Catholic Schools aren’t for everybody (See Kathryn Whitaker blog post earlier this week, “Is Catholic School for You?”). But it’s important to recognize the value of Catholic Schools and the important role they play in providing a values-added education for America’s young people.
Today ends Catholic Schools Week. And it’s important to support and pray for Catholics Schools to be able to that do what they can in “Forming Servant Leaders in the Image of Christ” (School Motto for St. Dominic Savio High School in the Diocese of Austin).
If you’d like to learn more about Catholic schools in the Diocese of Austin, log on to www.csdatx.org for more information.