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Catholic School Champions

It's All About Faith

on Monday, 04 April 2011.

Christian, mother, wife, businesswoman—these are just some of the adjectives that capture the spirit of  Joann Wagner, our Catholic school champion this month.  The Bethesda, Maryland-bred woman attended St. Jane deChantal through middle school, going on to the Academy of the Holy Cross for high school.  Husband Mike obtained his bachelor’s degree from Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and his doctor of medicine from Georgetown University.

Since that time Joann and Mike have moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where Mike serves as a physician in the Navy (and has just returned from 8 months in Afghanistan!), Joann runs a business, and together they raise their three children, all of whom have graduated from or currently attend Catholic schools, K-12. 

When asked, “Why Catholic schools?” Joann is clear: “Catholic faith is the key to all we hold dear.” She continues, “My children are attending Catholic schools to hopefully receive the same gift of faith through the Holy Spirit that my husband and I did. That’s the most important gift we can give our children. Catholic schools reinforce all the values we cherish, from seeing Christ in everyone and treating them accordingly to having a personal relationship with Jesus through prayer and the sacraments.  It is our mission statement, if you will, for our family.”

Catholic School Champion

on Thursday, 03 March 2011.

Meet Tracy Faulkner

Tracy Faulkner became a Catholic school champion before she became a Catholic. A K-12 student in public schools, she said, “I knew Catholic education was the answer when I met my fellow freshmen at college. The ones who went to Catholic schools weren’t necessarily smarter than other students, but they were more prepared. They could tackle what they were learning. “ Then she added with a chuckle, “They used notecards. And highlighters!” 

Not long after finishing college, Tracy converted to Catholicism.  Today she is not only a Catholic school parent, but an employee of the Alliance for Catholic Education.  Her 3 boys, Jake (13), Ben (11), and Will (9) attend Catholic schools, where Tracy is known, among other things, as the “Scrip Lady.” Asked why she sends her sons to Catholic schools, she answers, “Catholic schools create well-rounded adults.  The commitment to faith, service, and education—my boys are getting all of that there.   That commitment is becoming part of their nature.”

It’s clearly part of Tracy’s nature, too.  You might see her saving  recyclable paper  so she can donate it to her kids’ school.  She also stockpiles tape and other left-over office items schools might find useful.  Whatever the need, she’ll seek to fill it. "I'm a convert!" she says.  A Catholic school champion to the core!

In lieu of a photograph, Tracy
offered this picture of Dora
the Explorer, explaining, "My
nephew says I look just like her!"



From Catholic Schools to CBS News

on Wednesday, 02 February 2011.

Byron Pitts Champions Catholic Schools

Byron Pitts, CBS news correspondent and 60 Minutes contributor, is a Catholic school champion.

Mr. Pitts grew up in East Baltimore, the youngest of three children, and he struggled mightily in school.  By the time he was in second grade, his mother -- a strong, disciplined woman of deep faith -- saw that he was not getting the attention he needed in public school and moved him to St. Katherine’s, a Catholic school. 

Of that school, Mr. Pitts writes in his book Step Out on Nothing, “Most of the teachers were nuns. They treated me well. The strict discipline only seemed like an extension of [my mother’s] rules.  It was actually comforting to be in a school where nearly everyone was afraid of breaking the rules. There were never any more than 12 to 15 kids in a class. …There was a great emphasis on prayer and discipline. Reading, writing, and arithmetic seemed like second tier priorities…in this new environment, being polite was no longer enough to get by” (23).

Today Mr. Pitts is an energetic proponent of Catholic schools, serving as a member of Baltimore’s Archdiocesan Catholic School Board.  He appreciates the sacrifices many parents have to make to send their kids to Catholic schools, saying, “My mother was a single parent, a social worker making a modest living. ... She had to borrow from friends and family, and there were times when other bills went unpaid so she could pay for my tuition. But I thank God that my mother had the courage of her convictions and knew the value of a Catholic education. … I thank God she made the choice she did."

Find Byron Pitts' book, Step Out On Nothing: How faith and family helped me conquer life's challenges, here.

ACE Graduate Named NCEA Distinguished Teacher

Written by Meghann Robinson on Tuesday, 11 January 2011.

Jennifer Kowieski (ACE 4) one of twelve honored nationwide

In the "About the Teacher" section of her classroom webpage, Jennifer Kowieski says, "I should have realized that I wanted to be a teacher when, in third grade, I'd rush home from school to teach my little sister all I could about writing in cursive, multiplying numbers, and photosynthesis."

Maybe it wasn't in third grade that Kowieski realized she was being called to the classroom, but luckily for the students and families who have been blessed by her service, that realization did eventually come.  Now, others across the country are also realizing what a gift she is to the Catholic classroom.

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