Monday, January 26, 2015

Keeping it Real: Why I Send My Kids to Catholic Schools

Let's give a hand to ALL of our exceptional schools!

This week is Catholic Schools Week so naturally I want to promote the faith based education program my kids benefit from in the Catholic preschool and elementary schools they attend. However, I think it's an appropriate time to address some assumptions and generalizations often made about which schools parents decide to send their children to and which schools are the best.

I attended a public high school (Go Rolla Bulldogs!) and had a rich educational experience full of teachers I loved, friends who cared, and coaches who supported me. I sat in class with peers who, like me,  were trying to figure out their way through each day. We may have looked and acted different because we came from diverse backgrounds and family lives, but we were there for the same reason. Sure, there were disagreements, different groups of people who hung out, however when you're from a tight community there's always someone around to give you a hand and help you out.

I went to a public university (Go MU Tigers!)  I never once felt like just another number, even though that is what I heard happens when you go to a public university. Professors do know when you are not in class!  I experienced college life with old friends and met new friends while having some incredible times.There were endless opportunities at MU.  I was lucky enough to work with professors who pushed me outside my comfort zone. I made mistakes and learned from them to grow as a person.

I taught in a public school in St. Louis (Go Lindbergh Flyers!) where each day brought many gifts because the students in my classes came from the neighborhood and East St. Louis through the Voluntary Transfer Program.  Many of them were from low SES homes with parents who sent them on that bus everyday hoping for a better future. My wise principal told me the first week I began, "You have to believe that all parents want the best for their kids."  Even though I didn't have kids at the time, this really stuck with me. I had to remind myself of her message on days when parents wouldn't return my phone calls or my students came unprepared.  But I was humbled by the fact that these parents trusted me, day in and day out to do everything I could for their child. What were they thinking?!  The students were onto me. They challenged me, frustrated me, laughed with me (and probably at me), best of all they hugged me or gave me a high five at the end of each day. All of them taught me to work hard and they made me a better teacher. 

I was an administrator in a public school in a St. Louis suburb (Go Kehrs Mill Knights) where I worked alongside teachers who dedicated their lives to making a difference in each and every child's life. I watched them learn new teaching methods through differentiating instruction, skipping lunch to figure out their new technology tools or help students, staying after school to finish up lesson planning,  preparing for the next day and what that may bring.  Some teachers left, many stayed as there were trying days, but we grew into a family. Looking back, there was always support and love from kids, parents and educators.

Through all my public education involvement, I witnessed hardworking teachers, dedicated students, caring families, many amazing resources and community teamwork. So why do I send my kids to Catholic Schools?

Because it is the right fit for our family. Because Catholic schools offer the same loving, dedicated, caring, challenging and educational experiences I had in public schools.

I don't think I need to tell you more than that. I don't think anyone needs to explain why they send their kids to a particular school. I've learned through all my educational experiences the incredible importance of supporting what you feel is right for your kids AND supporting what your friends feel is right for their kids. 

Do I think my kids' schools are better than other schools out there? I'm going to keep it real and say, No. Not because I don't think my kids' schools are amazing, they are. However, we are fortunate to have many amazing schools we can be proud of in the KC metro area.  

Yes, we live in a city with a struggling school district. While we strive to solve that, we have to remain vigilant about keeping all our schools systems alive and thriving. I love that we have a variety of schools in KC: public, city, suburban, rural, catholic, private, charter,  home school, large and small which are committed in meeting the increasingly diverse needs of all our kids. Are there issues in each school? Yes. As parents, teachers and community members we have a civil and moral responsibility to creatively come together, research,  and support solutions that are in the best interest of the students.

Which school is the right choice for your family? Don't ask me, ask yourself. Keep it real. Send your kids to the school you feel is right for them and support the schools around your community. All schools need positive feedback. All schools need to give every student a high quality education. All schools can do this, if we stick together and do our own part, whatever that means for your family.  We need to keep all types of schools open and focus on the number one reason they are in existence: to educate the whole child in every child.

I'm proud of my kids' school (Go Vis Shamrocks!) and, you know what? I am proud of your kids' school too because we all want what is best for our children.

1 comment:

  1. (I think I may be double-commenting - sorry)

    When I was a student at RU, I think I asked you a question in this vein, and then immediately realized what a rude question it was. Thanks for not smacking me :) My brother (public school teacher, public school educator) and his wife (public school teacher, Catholic school educated) are expecting their first child in May. It will be interesting with their background what they choose for their daughter, but this is a good reminder that it's really none of my business!