From the super

Column: Do public school parents know what they’re missing?

Kathy O'Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

Kathy O’Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

Dear friends of Catholic schools,

God willing, O-Hara grandbabies — numbers 11 and 12 — will be born in April.

In addition to the usual joys of grandparenting about which you may know or hear, I have been fascinated by watching the growth of the children through the lens of an educator. I marvel at God’s creation when I observe the development of these small human persons who are his children.

However, I also learn a lot about the parents of today from watching my kids and their friends raise their children. Having this perspective helps me stay in touch with the hopes, fears, expectations, and anxieties of young families. Of course, not all families are the same. Recently, I was pleasantly surprised by a conversation relayed to me by one of our priests.

Not long ago, this priest was visiting with parishioners after Mass. He was approached by a woman who shared with him her excitement with the parish elementary school. This mother told the priest that she finally decided to switch her children to the Catholic school when she was told by the teacher of her second-grade daughter that the little girl should not sing “Jesus songs” at recess anymore because this was not appropriate for a public school. Even though she had two older children who were established in the public school, the mother decided it was time to change.

The priest told her that he was pleased to hear this, but asked her a few questions. One question was about cost. The mom explained that she was pleasantly surprised at how comparable the cost was when she considered all the various fees now charged by her public school district.

Then the priest asked about her older child who has special needs. Again, the mom conveyed how this child was flourishing in the environment of the Catholic school. She commented on how accommodating the teachers were and how much her child now loved school since the family made the change.

Next, the priest asked about the academic quality and the mom once again stated that she was very please with the academics.

Finally, her pastor asked if the faith formation was what she had expected. She told him it was better than what she expected and concluded by saying, “If I had realized what my children were missing, I would have enrolled them in our Catholic school long ago.”

Of course, not all Catholic families whose children attend public schools have unpleasant experiences, but what is compelling to me about this mom’s story is her final remark. Why switch to a Catholic school? You may not know what you’ve been missing!

¡Vaya Con Dios!

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Kathy O'Hara

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