Written by: Eric Prister
Father TJ Martinez, president at Cristo Rey Jesuit and recipient of one of Houston's Sorin Awards for Service to Catholic Schools, spoke to his students about doing the impossible.
"At Cristo Rey Jesuit, we do the difficult immediately, and the impossible we do soon after."
Fr. Martinez, along with schools and communities around Texas, are doing the impossible and rewriting the narrative of Catholic schools through their zeal and passion for children's education.
Throughout Texas, from Austin to San Antonio, from Corpus Christi to the Valley, teachers, students, parents, and administrators showed us just what it means to be zealous for Catholic schools.
The schools in Texas serve heavily Latino populations, and for some this might be seen as a challenge—the achievement gap among Latino students is striking. Only 53% of Latino children graduate from high school in four years. Only 25% of Latinos aged eighteen to twenty-four enroll in college, and only 16% of Latino eighteen-year-olds are considered "college ready."
This is perhaps a challenge for the schools in Texas, but it is a challenge that both the schools and their communities have embraced with characteristic zeal. The teachers are passionate about their subjects, and the students are passionate about learning. The schools in Texas, the teachers and administrators along with the students and their parents, are bridging the achievement gap.
Latinos who attend Catholic schools are 42% more likely to graduate from high school and two and a half times more likely to graduate from college. In just one example, at Guadalupe Regional Middle School in Brownsville, 90% of graduates go on to finish high school and either attend college or serve in the armed forces. GRMS is one of many schools that embrace the challenges and overcome them through passion for learning and zeal for education.
At ACE, we proudly wear t-shirts and stickers that say "I Heart Catholic Schools.” The schools in Texas truly live that message. Day after day, they turn their love for Catholic schools and for each other into success stories through a zeal that most fully characterizes the mission of Catholic education.