This is a guest post by Patricia L. Ramirez, principal of St. Anthony Catholic School
Why should you consider a Catholic school while you look for the best educational options for your child? Many would agree that the most important job of a parent is to mold, guide, and educate their children to become upstanding, contributing members of society. We imagine our children growing up and having a fulfilling career and enjoying the fruits of their labor. But what about those intangibles such as living a life of faith and service or having love and compassion for their neighbor? These qualities are just as important, if not more important to get a full measure of a person’s success. Catholic schools are in a unique position to partner with parents who seek a school that will meet the needs of the whole child. You may wonder how Catholic schools measure up to other school options. As Principal of St. Anthony Catholic School in San Antonio, I would like to articulate what this unique educational system has to offer and provide a deeper understanding of why families make the financial investment to provide a high-quality Catholic education for their children.
Body, Mind, and Spirit
Just as we would not expect a growing plant to thrive by giving it water while denying it sunshine, we should not expect a child to thrive by forming just the body and mind while omitting the spirit. Catholic schools have long partnered with parents as the child’s first educators to meet the needs of the whole child—body, mind and spirit. Children are naturally loving, compassionate and inquisitive beings. Educating children within a faith-filled environment helps them to understand their purpose and place among the community. The faith is modeled throughout the day and lived through service. As an example, at St. Anthony Catholic School, we explicitly model this by pairing up older and younger students as buddies. They read together and share in community-building activities. In no time, you see the friendship that builds between them. Prayers for those who are in need, rejoicing in others’ accomplishments and the importance of living as part of a community is an integral part of school.
Is Catholic school just for Catholics? Absolutely not! Our school has welcomed, and been enriched by, families of all faiths and backgrounds. There is a mutual respect for all faiths. The values and morals instilled in Catholic schools are universal and shared by all faiths. Families from non Judeo-Christian backgrounds have chosen Catholic schools because of the values and excellent academics.
Catholic schools provide a rigorous academic program and enrichment opportunities. I have found that higher percentages of children participate in clubs and sports because of the smaller school environment. Our students grow in confidence and leadership skills as evidenced by their success in high school.
Meeting the Needs of the Community
As a private Catholic school, we pride ourselves in providing an excellent, well-rounded education that meets the needs of our community. Decisions about curriculum, programs and enrichment are made at the local level, assessed and adjusted as needed. The benefits of this have never been more evident than during this pandemic. When the schools shut down in March, we were able to pivot, work with our school community and reopen the school virtually within a week. The teachers were just amazing. They trained, kept in touch with their families and got their students online in such a short period of time. We adjusted our virtual program based on parent and teacher feedback. Catholic schools opened their doors this past Fall with health protocols in place and we have had a successful year with the majority of our students in-school.
In evaluating the demand for second language acquisition in our community, we discovered that there were very limited choices for Spanish Immersion programs outside of the public school system. LISTA, a Spanish immersion program at St. Anthony Catholic School was established to provide a high-quality Spanish immersion option for families in a nurturing, faith-based environment. Children’s cognitive skills are greatly enhanced when they acquire a second language and the best part is that they are learning in a nurturing and engaging environment. Our small teacher to student ratios ensure that our students get individualized attention as well.
I encourage you to discover how we are meeting the needs of 21st century learners, maintaining the highest academic standards, providing enrichment and forming tomorrow’s leaders, all with the added benefits of a smaller, more involved school community rooted in faith. A high-quality, Catholic school education is an investment that will benefit your child for a lifetime. Sign up for a tour!
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Patricia L. Ramirez, M.A. CSL is the Principal at St. Anthony Catholic School. She holds a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio and MA in Catholic School Leadership from St. Mary’s University. She has 26 years in education as a teacher and administrator, has served on the Board at St. Anthony Catholic High School, and is presently on the Principal’s Advisory Council with the Archdiocese of San Antonio.
Read More About Catholic Education
- “Guide to Enrolling in Catholic Schools in San Antonio for 2021–2022,” San Antonio Charter Moms, January 19, 2021
- “A Glimmer of Hope in Pandemic for Nation’s Ailing Catholic Schools, But Long-Term Worries Persist,” Asher Lehrer-Small, 74 Million, December 20, 2020
- “San Antonio Catholic School starting school year with a new microschool model,” Erica Hernandez, KSAT, August 12, 2020
- “San Antonio religious schools cautiously making plans to reopen, some in mid-August, some in September,” Peggy O’Hare, San Antonio Express-News, August 3, 2020
- “The Closure Of Catholic Schools Is ‘Devastating,’ Advocates Say,” Tom Gjelten, NPR, July 30, 2020
- “‘Spread the Gospel, not germs’: San Antonio Catholic school outlines reopening plan,” Mark Dunphy, San Antonio Express-News, July 28, 2020
- “Superintendent of Catholic Schools addresses families on school reopening plan,” KSAT, July 28, 2020
- “With Texas AG’s blessing, San Antonio religious schools prepare for students’ return to campus,” Garrett Brnger, KSAT, July 22, 2020
- “An ‘Alienated America’ Needs Community-Building Schools—Something Catholic Schools Have Been Doing for Generations,” Kathleen Porter-McGee, 74 Million, January 29, 2020