January is always a special time in our schools as we celebrate Catholic Schools Week at the end of the month (January 31 thru February 6). The theme for the week from the National Catholic Education Association is, “Catholic Schools: Faith, Excellence, Service.” During this week, our schools will celebrate with Masses and other activities, spotlighting the value Catholic education provides to young people and its many contributions to our church, our communities and our nation.
As we consider the theme for the week, Faith certainly is at the forefront in our schools. Our principals and teachers have a true understanding that our schools exist to bring Christ and our faith into the lives of our students. And when our parents participate in this endeavor, as they most certainly do, then we are really building communities of faith.
Excellence is also a vital part of our schools. Certainly, that exists academically as Catholic schools are well known for the tradition of academic excellence. Our teachers are continually challenging our students and changing with the times as technology has become so important in education.
Our schools have also initiated the NWEA/MAP testing program to evaluate student proficiencies. These tests are given three times during the school year, and they provide teachers an understanding of individual students’ growth in subject areas. This gives teachers the opportunity to help students who may be struggling in certain areas or to provide more challenges for those who are excelling.
Service is also very important in our schools. Service is an outgrowth of our faith and therefore our students perform many hours of service annually within the school and in their parishes and communities.
I believe the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education program stated it the best when they published the following: “Catholic schools have shown unparalleled success in educating children, promoting a lifelong commitment to faith and virtue, and encouraging civic engagement. In the face of increasing secularization, Catholic schools provide an atmosphere that privileges Gospel values and the role of parents as the primary educators of their children.”
George A. Milot
Superintendent of Schools