If you are engaged in Catholic education – Congratulations.
Our schools opened at the end of August with excited students returning to their Catholic school or starting in one for the first time.
It is always a reassuring picture of students in khaki shorts or slacks, new white, green, or navy golf shirts, and new shoes lined up in front of a familiar teacher or even a new teacher, probably as anxious as the students, to cross the threshold to a new year -some jumping with joy, some first timers nervously waiting for some classmate to come over to say hi, follow me. Once inside students will settle down to a welcome from the principal, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of summer and the beauty of fall, for all those in need, and all those who help the hungry, the homeless, the elderly, the international students, and the immigrants seeking a better life. It is not quite Norman Rockwell, but it is quintessential first day in Catholic school.
If you are not already part of a Catholic school community. You might be thinking - so what. This pretty much looks like any other school.
Well let’s take a closer look at what you will see and hear, and experience in a Catholic school:
- An air of respect, signs and symbols of the Catholic faith
- Bulletin board displays not only underscoring social values, but equally important is the message of why those social values are important, and that is because when you add a faith foundation and a belief in a merciful God, these values that maintain social order become virtuous practices
- You will see learning objectives posted by teachers who are state certified. Your children will benefit from a curriculum that the Archdiocese of Hartford has created, which exceeds national standards, and which is being used by Catholic schools from the northeast to Texas, while integrating Catholic Social Teaching.
- Students will be working in groups discovering multiple solutions to problems.
- Students in literature circles learning to discuss a piece of literature Sharing of opinions in circle time always including our faith as a factor
- Vocabulary such as mercy, kindness, patience, understanding, cooperation, community, inclusion, and forgiveness
- The practice of Catholic Social Teaching
- The appreciation of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition
- An appreciation and understanding of other faiths
- Gym classes where teamwork is honored and opportunity for all to share their gifts
- Music and Art a requirement not optional
- World language for all students not optional
- Technology integration - research, data use, robotics, coding by using robots Dot and Dash and their family of robotic children that engage our students and make coding fun, and the use of technology to chart student progress and allow for personalized instruction for improvement
- Newly opened STREAM schools staffed with teachers who have received tremendous and ongoing professional training in that model
- Athletics based on principals of personal growth, fairness of play, inclusion, and a ‘do your best attitude’ rather than win at all cost
- The opportunity for parents to become involved in the home and school associations as well as governance structures such as local school boards
- And a building with tremendous safety features including a well vetted security plan.
The Bishop of Bridgeport, Bishop Caggiano, is noted for explaining that schools in general provide a good academic program, but only Catholic education is transformational. Students are formed to view the world through a lens of forgiveness, justice, mercy, respect for life at every stage, and peace. We should all hope that professional judgements that impact our lives will be made by adults who have experienced this transformative education.
If this formation intrigues you stop in or call your local Catholic school.
Deputy Superintendent of Catholic Schools