Each day during Catholic Schools Week, we will post a reflection on the focus of the day centered around this year's theme, A+ for America. Today's theme: "Catholic Schools are an A+ for our Students"
When I taught Amy she was a bright, athletic, beaming eighth grader. She loved her older sister, her younger brother, and playing soccer. A short two years later, her body was ravaged by leukemia, and after a long and valiant battle, she passed away. Attending her funeral was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. And yet, though it was many years ago, I still remember the theme of the homily: Amy’s life is changed, not ended.
I sometimes imagine Amy looking down from heaven and saying to me, “These students you teach will not be here forever. Teach them something that lasts.”
And that, indeed, is the mission of Catholic schools: to teach something that lasts. Not for a decade. Not for a generation. But forever. As a guest speaker once told our faculty, “Our calling is to get students into Heaven, not Harvard.”
Not that Catholic schools don’t care about providing a rigorous education. Any of numerous studies will tell you that Catholic schools provide an outstanding academic foundation--high graduation rates and top scores on standardized tests. However, what Catholic schools uniquely offer our children is the one thing that lasts: the opportunity to develop in their relationship with Jesus Christ.
In a culture that increasingly marginalizes religion, Catholic schools keep faith at the forefront. Each day students witness the lived faith of a believing community and learn how Christ permeates every aspect of life. From learning about Catholic contributions in science to exploring religious themes in literature, from daily school prayer to weekly school liturgies, Catholic schools offer students an ongoing invitation to recognize God in their lives.
Catholic schools give students the x-ray glasses they need to see through the false promises of our culture. Catholic schools give students the hearing aids they need to listen the voice of the Holy Spirit in their own lives. Catholic schools give students the inner compass they need to find their way to their true home.
Life is beautiful, but all too short. I advocate for Catholic schools because Catholic schools offer students an education that lasts a lifetime...and beyond.
Nick Senger has been teaching literature, writing and Religion since 1990, and in 2001 he was named a Distinguished Teacher of the Year by the National Catholic Educational Association. A husband and father of four, Nick is an eighth grade teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator at a Catholic school in Spokane, Washington, USA. He is also currently in deacon formation for the Diocese of Spokane.
You can follow Nick's blog "Catholic School Chronicle" here.