The following blog was contributed by Kathy Mears, Chief Program Officer at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) in Arlington, VA.
The national theme of Catholic Schools Week is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” The Catholic schools in the United States are blessed to belong to communities where people of faith are taught to serve God by serving others. Catholic schools work to ensure that our faith is embedded into every aspect of the school. Teaching students to live and learn by Catholic principles will provide a foundation that supports them their entire lives.
Students at Catholic schools attend Mass on a regular basis, and prayer is a part of their daily lives. The values students learn include the intellectual curiosity of St. Ignatius, the unwavering faith of Saint Julie Billiart and compassion for others demonstrated by St. Francis of Assisi. They are taught to trust in God as St. Joseph exemplified, and they are given multiple opportunities to serve, as taught by St. Theresa of Calcutta. In the face of celebrity idolization, Catholic school students are shown true role models. Across the country, Catholic schools are embracing new technologies and combining them with the tried and true teaching methods of questioning, practice and exploration. Catholic schools are equipped with language labs and science and innovation centers. Students are learning about coding, robotics, 3-D printing and more. We are using technology to enhance the teaching and learning process, but we understand that true learning happens when the student, parent and teacher work together to provide the best possible atmosphere for students.
In our hearts, our school leaders and teachers understand that Catholic education is about building a relationship with Jesus. A few years ago, Pope Francis told a group of young people to, “Have courage…Go forward…Make noise.” We are doing that in Catholic schools. We are looking for additional ways to meet the needs of our students and their families. We continue to monitor our students’ learning and making adjustments to make sure that each child is reaching his/her potential. We are sharing our story, the good news of how our schools are helping our students to develop into “Saints and Scholars.”
If you’re a parent, I hope that you’ll consider sending your child to a Catholic school. If you’re an engaging, forward-thinking educator who is looking for a teaching position, I encourage you to apply to teach in one of our schools. And, if you are someone who has spare time and a desire to share your talents, I encourage you to become a volunteer! Together, we will help our students to develop their relationship with God, while learning to apply faith and reason to their lives.
Catholic education is alive and well, and our country is better for it! Our alumni are engaged in the world and are leaders in it. Alumni of Catholic schools are voters, they are volunteers, they attend Mass. They are contributors to the common good. Please pray for everyone in our Catholic schools as we work to support this important mission of the Catholic Church.