Why should you consider a Catholic school while you look for the best educational options for your child? Many would agree that the most important job of a parent is to mold, guide, and educate their children to become upstanding, contributing members of society. We imagine our children growing up and having a fulfilling career and enjoying the fruits of their labor. But what about those intangibles such as living a life of faith and service or having love and compassion for their neighbor? These qualities are just as important, if not more important to get a full measure of a person’s success.
Catholic schools are in a unique position to partner with parents who seek a school that will meet the needs of the whole child. You may wonder how Catholic schools measure up to other school options. As Principal of St. Anthony Catholic School in San Antonio, I would like to articulate what this unique educational system has to offer and provide a deeper understanding of why families make the financial investment to provide a high-quality Catholic education for their children.
Body, Mind and Spirit
Just as we would not expect a growing plant to thrive by giving it water while denying it sunshine, we should not expect a child to thrive by forming just the body and mind while omitting the spirit. Catholic schools have long partnered with parents as the child’s first educators to meet the needs of the whole child—body, mind and spirit.
Children are naturally loving, compassionate and inquisitive beings. Educating children within a faith-filled environment helps them to understand their purpose and place in the community. The faith is modeled throughout the day and lived through service. As an example, at St. Anthony Catholic School, we explicitly model this by pairing up older and younger students as buddies. They read together and share in community-building activities. In no time, you see the friendship that builds between them. Prayers for those who are in need, rejoicing in others’ accomplishments and the importance of living as part of a community is an integral part of school.
Is Catholic school just for Catholics? Absolutely not! Our school has welcomed, and been enriched by, families of all faiths and backgrounds. There is a mutual respect for all faiths. The values and morals instilled in Catholic schools are universal and shared by all faiths. Families from non Judeo-Christian backgrounds have chosen Catholic schools because of the values and excellent academics.
Catholic schools provide a rigorous academic program and enrichment opportunities. I have found that higher percentages of children participate in clubs and sports because of the smaller school environment. Our students grow in confidence and leadership skills as evidenced by their success in high school.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
As a private Catholic school, we pride ourselves on providing an excellent, well-rounded education that meets the needs of our community. Decisions about curriculum, programs and enrichment are made at the local level, assessed and adjusted as needed. The benefits of this have never been more evident than during this pandemic.
When the schools shut down in March, we were able to pivot, work with our school community and reopen the school virtually within a week. The teachers were just amazing. They trained, kept in touch with their families and got their students online in such a short period of time. We adjusted our virtual program based on parent and teacher feedback. Catholic schools opened their doors this past fall with health protocols in place and we have had a successful year with the majority of our students in school.
In evaluating the demand for second language acquisition in our community, we discovered that there were very limited choices for Spanish Immersion programs outside of the public school system. LISTA, a Spanish immersion program at St. Anthony Catholic School was established to provide a high-quality Spanish immersion option for families in a nurturing, faith-based environment. Children’s cognitive skills are greatly enhanced when they acquire a second language and the best part is that they are learning in a nurturing and engaging environment. Our small teacher-to-student ratios ensure that our students get individualized attention as well.