Why Catholic Education?

Knowing the Lord Jesus, walking with Him, studying with Him, serving with Christ, and sharing the table of the Lord Jesus is what prepares a person to be His witness to the world.
- Bishop Jaime Soto, Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento

Why do children go to school? You’re probably thinking, “That’s obvious. To learn, of course!” But is academic knowledge, alone, the end goal of the learning experience? What if the educational process could deliver on more than just one outcome? A Catholic education is a one-of-a-kind learning experience because it focuses on more than just academics. We believe that nurturing the entire person in mind, body, and spirit is the necessary for a happy, healthy, and balanced life. Catholic Schools provide children with the invaluable opportunity to expand their knowledge, explore their passions, create community, strengthen their sense of self and come to know God all in one place.

Explore a few of the many reasons a Catholic School is the best choice for your child’s education:

THE CATHOLIC ADVANTAGE

A Catholic education is unlike any other learning experience. Why? Catholic Schools educate to develop the whole child. The educational process is an opportunity to cultivate the entire person by engaging the human need for physical, mental, social, and spiritual nourishment. It is the mission of Catholic Schools to do just that.

Catholic Schools understand the multi-faceted nature of child development and are heavily invested in the wellbeing of their students. In the state of California, school attendance is compulsory for children ages six through eighteen. Thinking of a school as a place where children are entertained, disciplined, kept busy, or babysat is just as much a disservice to them as it is to us. At a Catholic School, education is more than just a requirement or a means to prevent truancy. It is an occasion to celebrate learning, develop talents, create lifelong bonds, and to love and serve God every day.

Our teaching style is effective because it is comprehensive. Children in our Schools benefit from a learning experience that develops all of the physical, emotional, social and spiritual qualities integral to human health and happiness. We recognize that children are the heirs of our future. Brimming with wonder, joy, and a zeal for life, among us all it is they who have the brightest hopes and biggest dreams for the state of the world. Catholic Schools think highly of their students and have gratitude for children the world over, as they are movers and shakers with the power to determine the course of history.

ACADEMICS

Catholic Schools are proud to serve parents who desire the highest quality academic instruction for their children. Excellence in academics is the hallmark of a Catholic education. With an average student to teacher ratio of 13:1, an education with us is personalized, relevant and conducive to the success of each individual (NCEA). Routinely surpassing public schools in state- and national-level academic benchmarks, Catholic Schools encourage critical thinking, practical application, and creative problem-solving.1 Because of our high academic standards, 99% of those students who attend Catholic high school graduate. And of those, 86% attend 4-year colleges.2

In bringing children the best educational opportunities, Catholic Schools ensure that their academic curriculums reflect societal changes, especially those in technology. Diocesan Schools support the expanding role of technology in the educational experience and continually seek ways to integrate digital learning into the classroom experience. This pursuit also creates teachable moments where, in the spirit of Christian formation, students are not only taught how to operate technology, but also learn that it is our collective responsibility to apply this knowledge positively and respectfully.

Enrichment activities are fundamental to a well-rounded education. Catholic Schools laud the benefits of creative expression through mediums like visual art, music, and dance. Programs that support these talents are always woven into the Catholic School curriculum because they allow students to create, express, and experiment in healthy and empowering ways. Art is one of the ultimate unifiers. Human emotion is experienced and shared through movement and melody. Cultural distinctions are recognized and appreciated through the interaction of vibrant colors, sights and sounds. The solidarity instituted by music and art draws us closer as a human community under God.

Catholic Schools also recognize recreational and competitive athletics as sources of spiritual and physical enrichment. Sports programs promote the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle through physical fitness. Spiritual and moral development are fostered through teamwork, camaraderie, hard work and healthy competition in fun and positive environments. Above all, children learn valuable lessons in character formation when they must conduct themselves in situations where winning is not guaranteed. They learn how to cope with loss, and how to harness it as an incentive for growth.

COMMUNITY

A Catholic education is unique because it prioritizes community. You may be familiar with the phrase, “It takes a whole village to raise our children.” The truth behind this philosophy cannot be overstated. Everything we do and believe goes back to how we can best serve our children. Human psychology advises that success is maximized in inclusive environments where people feel like they are a part of a world or an idea that is bigger than themselves. When there is a culture of community around the educational process, children feel more positive, supported, and confident in their ability to excel personally and professionally. In fact, studies show that teacher commitment, student engagement, and student achievement are higher in Catholic Schools because we operate as communities rather than bureaucracies.3

Community is a focal part of the everyday experience at a Catholic School. All mornings begin with sacred silence followed by school-wide prayer with all teachers, faculty, and students in attendance. At Mass, we worship together as faith-filled communities, thanking the Lord for giving us another day to enjoy our families, the many gifts we have been given, and the opportunity to be led by His grace. Each school activity, from sporting events to theatre productions, is preceded by prayer and the affirmation of community.

School-sponsored functions give life to our parochial communities. Parents and children participate in regular fundraising events and socials where friendship is celebrated, bonds are forged over delicious food and drink, and connections are established through faith and good fellowship. Regardless of personal viewpoints on worldly affairs, parents who seek both bright futures and the promise of salvation for their children already share something significant. There is no better foundation for community than the kindness and compassion demonstrated by Jesus Christ. As he is the basis of all that is just and good on this Earth, no matter what our differences or personal beliefs, it is in Him that we share our strongest bond and find greatest cohesion.

VALUES

At a Catholic School, academic learning is not the only outcome of an exceptional education. The primary goal of a Catholic education is to prepare children for salvation. Students learn that God does not expect us to be perfect, or to tire ourselves by pursuing the hopeless venture that is perfection. What He wants most is for us to become our best selves. Giving glory to God is a lifelong exercise in acceptance, trust, and patience. When we choose to focus our energies on knowing and serving God, we can truly wash away our self-doubt and let go of the unhealthy and unachievable desire to be perfect. All that we are and everything that we do becomes more precious than a quest for vanity, fame or recognition when we aspire to serve God. We teach our children that becoming your best self has nothing to do with being perfect; it means honing your talents and transforming your strengths into a vocation that has a positive impact on society.

Catholic Schools are exceptional because they focus on informing and developing loving and productive citizens who care about the condition of their communities. Studies show that the emphasis Catholic Schools place on service and faith formation produces students who are more civically engaged, tolerant of diverse views, committed to service as adults, and less likely to be incarcerated than their public school peers. (Campbell, 2001).Children in Catholic Schools are not only called to be high academic achievers, they are also called to be loving disciples of Jesus Christ. That being said, academics do not take a back seat in the learning process. Instead, we believe developing the intellectual aptitudes God has given us is the best way to grow in holiness.

However, Catholic Schools also understand that the way a person chooses to exercise his or her knowledge is far more important than having knowledge itself. Therefore, we support character development, instilling in children ethical values that ultimately guide their decision-making process; from their personal, everyday behaviors to their chosen career paths. Moral conduct is built into the very fabric of school culture. Following the example of Jesus Christ, students are required to model Christian behavior by honoring the dignity of each individual. We encourage the expression of faith in word, thought, and deed.

Above all, a Catholic education forms compassionate yet judicious leaders who are prepared to rise up to the complexities of a dynamic and ever-changing world. Graduates of Catholic Schools have solid academic foundations, spiritual fortitude, strong moral convictions, and the desire to be civically engaged. Guided by God’s grace, we give students the tools they need to shape their futures and to become their best selves. As Catholic educators, we are humbled by the knowledge that our students move on to translate their spirituality, skills and scholarship into actions that transform the world.


1 Coleman, J., Hoffman, T., & Kilgore, S. (1982). High School Achievement: Catholic and Public Schools Compared. NY: Basic Books; Sander, W. (1996).Catholic Schools: Private and Social Effects. Boston: Kluwer Academic.)

2 McDonald, Dale, PBVM. Ph.D. and Margaret Schultz, Annual Statistical Report 2013-2014, National Catholic Educational Association (NCA, 2014).

3 Marks, G. (2009). Accounting for school-sector differences in university entrance performance. Australian Journal of Education, 53, 19-38).