Celebrating Catholic Schools Week

This week week we celebrate National Catholic Education Week, from January 30 through February 5. Although Valentine's Day is two weeks away, you might consider doing something special for someone in your life who works in the field of Catholic education, whether this be an elementary school, high school, college or university, or catechesis. Joanna Molloy in the New York Daily News reminded snow-bogged readers in the Big Apple not to forget those too-frequently unsung heroes who work in the educational vineyard:

It's nothing short of a miracle that Cardinal Hayes High School, in the poorest congressional district in America, has a 99% graduation rate.

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And that fourth graders at East Harlem's Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School had a 100% passing rate on statewide math tests, while only 55% of public school kids in the same district passed.

And that all of the Mt. Carmel kids passed the English Language Arts exams, while only 43% of their public school peers passed.

So as Catholic Schools Week arrived, we search for the key to their academic successes and wonder if public schools will ever be able to unlock it?

The National Catholic Education Association (http://www.ncea.org/) (NCEA) has declared this year's slogan to be "CATHOLIC SCHOOLS--A+ for AMERICA". The NCEA noted that this week is also sponsored (http://catholicschoolsweek.ncea.org/) by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan recently wrote eloquently in support of Catholic education in America. Archbishop Dolan has been a national force in acknowledging and appreciating the hard work of Catholic educators and catechists.

Just several days ago in Washington, DC the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities concluded its 2011 Meeting in Washington, DC. This group, founded in 1899, is the collective voice of Catholic higher education in the United states—and through seminars, conferences, publications, research and consultation, strives to "foster a vibrant Catholic identity at member institutions, and supports cooperation among them for the greater good of society and the Church. At this conference this week they awarded the Father Theodore Hesburgh Award to Father James Heft, President, Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California; and the Monica Hellwig Award to Sister Amata Miller, Director of Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity at St. Catherine University.

A special thank you from me to all the Sisters of St. Joseph, who gave my father a great education at St. Patrick's Orphanage and Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Watertown, New York, as he grew up in a world without his mother and father. If there is a Catholic educator in your life, consider celebrating Valentine's Day this week!

William Van Ornum

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7 years 8 months ago
Dr. van Ornum,

I always considered Catholic schools as my second set of parents and tell people that they were very influential in raising me.  My parents were in their 40's when I was born and I was the last of five children so Catholic schools had a major effect on my upbringing.  I made sure that all my children went there and each has benefited in ways that are only now apparent to them after several years.  They got something that was not available in the public school system.

As an aside, I just watched the documentary, 'Waiting for Superman.'  This is not about Catholic schools per se but the failure of the public school system in our country.  One of the children in the documentary was going to Catholic schools but her mother had to take her out when she lost her job and then had to deal with the public schools.  She was a single mother and was beginning to lose hope for her child.  It is a devastating indictment of the public school system and how poor children are pawns in a game designed to benefit adults.  Everyone should watch it if they can get a chance.
7 years 8 months ago
I thought it interesting that two New York Catholic schools were mentioned, both in poor areas(though Cardinal Hayes HS is generously supported by alum Regis Philbin.)
Yet  many New York Catholic schools are soon to be closed.
Money appears to be the problem, but is service to the poorest (seeing the examples here) a major consideration?
I thought an excellent example of working on issues of catholic schools was set by the Baltimore archdiocese and if you go to their website and read the (lengthy) plan and how it was constructed, it might prove a valuable approach to take to the issue.
7 years 8 months ago
Dr. Van

Yous say, ''This week week we celebrate National Catholic Education Week, from January 30 through February 5''.

Who has recognized this as ''National Catholic Education Week''?  I think the proper recognition by the USCCB and the NCEA is ''Catholic Schools Week''.  There is a differnce as this week is meant to highlight the unique role of ''Catholic Schools''.  There are other ways to get a Catholic Education both instead of and in concert with Catholic Schools, such as home-schooling and religious ed at the parish.  This week however highlights the role of Catholic Schools.
we vnornm
7 years 8 months ago
Thanks to all for their comments and support of Catholic schools and education this week across the country! bill
we vnornm
7 years 8 months ago
Ms. Lindsay Blevins recently posted this on ''What Makes a Good Catholic Teacher'' and I beiieve her thoughts capture the spirit of Catholic Schools week wonderfully:

I noticed this article after posting on the one for the assignment and I find it very interesting. I attending Catholic schoo lf or 10 years, the same school my mother now teaches at. I completely agree that Catholic schools are often on the same level at private school. Many non-Catholic parents did send their children to our school for the academic opportunities. I had one teacher in particular whom I consider a Saint. There is a joke around school that she had a secret bed some where because you will always find her there doing something to better the school or the church. She went above and beyond the duties required of a teacher; certainly beyond what she was getting paid for. My mother once made a good point: Catholic School teachers are rarely paid even close to those who teach in a public school. The budgets are just no where near those of schools funded by tax dollars. These teacher usually choose to be at Catholic schools for the environment and attention to faith and accept a smaller paycheck to do so. I have had many teachers who paid for things for classroom activities and field trips themselves. I've had teachers who have given up an enormous amount of personal time to lead extracurricular activities because no one else would and there was barely any money to sponsor them in the first place. This is not to say that teachers in public schools don't do the same, however, in Catholic school I have personally experienced amazing teachers who have dedicated their lives to live in God's image and lead children toward being good and kind adults.
Marie Rehbein
7 years 8 months ago
Why is Catholic Schools Week in the middle of winter?  In West Virginia all the well-planned festivities ended up being postponed due to snow days, and as (bad) luck would have it, the same thing is happening again to us in southern New Mexico this year.  It's colder than Chicago here today.  Is it a sign?
Jennifer Bytof
7 years 8 months ago
We, unfortunately, had to cancel/postpone many of our Catholic Schools Week festivities in Philadelphia too, due to the weather.
7 years 8 months ago
I am forever grateful to the Sisters of St. Joseph who taught several generations of my extended family at our local parochial grade school.  The sisters insisted that my parents send me to college, which they did.  Now, I see that Sister Amata Miller from my alma mater, St. Catherine University has received a welll-earned award as director of the Myser Initiative on Catholic Identity.  Mrs. Myser is an alumna and funder of the initiative.  I want to congratulate Sister Amata and all those Catholic eductors who are working to enhance and in some cases, re-establish a Catholic identity in their institutions.  St. Catherine's has traditionally emphasized Social Justice throughout the curriculum.  While my education as a whole was excellent it was the Catholicity that sustains me throughout life.
Samantha Rooney
7 years 8 months ago
That is a great accomplishment that these Catholic Schools have achieved such high graduation rates in these poor areas.  During National Catholic Education Week it is important to recognize all of the great success these schools have achieved. 
Stephanie Waring
7 years 8 months ago
I have never even heard of this National Catholic Education Week, and it is definitely new to me. I think Catholic Schools are a great way to get an amazing education, although they may be overpriced, I would rather pay a lot of money to make sure kids get an excellent education, in comparison to just an "okay" one in public schools. Catholics schools tend to be more strict and adamant about attendance policies, cutting class, dress code, etc.  I attended St. Francis Preparatory in Queens, as did each of my three sisters, and we graduated each having felt a start to success. We all feel a special bond with our Catholic High School because it essentially helped us on our road through college and pushed us through some difficult years of our lives.  I think it's great for everyone to recognize the successfulness of Catholic schools all over.
Patrick Whelan
7 years 7 months ago
Thank you for acknowledging Fr Jim Heft, a former Catholic college president who has a deep dedication to revitalizing the intellectual life of the Church.  There was a commonly shared theme at the Washington meeting of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities-enunciated very articulately by Bishop Kicanas-that we as Catholics shouldn't be afraid of competing points of view being expressed in our institutions of higher education.  The truth can fend for itself, said Bishop Kicanas, and the only way to find it is to embrace the messy debate among competing points of view.  I think this should hold true in our parish communities and in our Catholic high schools as well. 
Lauren Esposito
7 years 7 months ago
          I have attended Catholic school my entire life; therefore, I am very aware of celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  In my years of Catholic schooling, we celebrated Catholic Schools Week by attending mass, partaking in activities along with “Crazy Hat” and “Crazy Sock” days! During that week, it always created such a community which brightened the school environment.   
           I believe attending Catholic school provides you with a sense of closeness and community.  With a strong, stable community it incorporates support and motivation.  With that said, I feel that with the raising tests scores of the listed Catholic schools it makes sense.           ?
          ?Unfortunately, for some Catholic schools in my hometown they celebrated their last C?atholic schools week.  Due to budget cuts, four Catholic schools will be closing their doors.  It saddens me to think that after so many years they can’t receive help to keep their doors open.  Also, as a future educator it makes me wonder what will happen to the children from those schools.  Per they are being uprooted from their school, their community. 

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