“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”
– Chinese Proverb
As parents, we all want the best for our kids. Unfortunately, I think we spend a lot of our time comparing ourselves with other Moms and our family with other families, rather than embracing our uniqueness and celebrating what makes our family work. For our family, when it came to making the decision about what school our children would attend, we wanted to make the decision that was right for us. Inevitably, we received lots of advice on the subject, which we received gratefully. But ultimately we needed to make this very personal decision based on where we felt our children would thrive.
First and foremost, my husband, Martin, and I agreed that we are the first educators of our children. No school should have that responsibility. The school’s role is to expand upon the education we provide at home. Thus, we sought a school that aligns with our values and focuses on providing a faith-based foundation for life. As a Catholic family, we felt most comfortable with a curriculum that included religious instruction and a schedule that included daily prayer and weekly Mass.
The Catholic school we selected, St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic School, has a belief statement that reads:
“We believe in fostering:
- Hearts that are compassionate and nourished by Catholic teachings and values.
- Minds that are curious and well-trained in the humanities and sciences.
- Lives that are active and committed to citizenship, service, and social justice.”
The school, which is based in the Holy Cross tradition, includes the education of both the mind and the heart, which is what we strive to provide as parents. When we visited the school, we felt at home and knew that the school was the right choice for our family. We were affirmed in the decision throughout our daughter’s first year in Pre-K, as we watched her learn and grow mentally, physically, and spiritually.
One of the best moments happened during Lent when Grace’s class took turns taking home a huge rosary. Each family was asked to keep the rosary at home for two nights with an invitation to say the rosary as a family. As we prepared to pray the rosary, I started to explain to Grace how it works. She stopped me, and said, “Mom, I learned that at school,” and proceeded to tell me how to pray the rosary. I was in awe that her Pre-K class was learning about praying the rosary!
Another amazing moment came at the end of the school year as Grace celebrated her 5th birthday. I went to Grace’s classroom to bring cupcakes for the celebration. The teacher called Grace to the front of the room, and the class sang The Blessing Song to her with arms outstretched, praying for Grace on her special day. “May the blessing of the Lord be upon you, the blessing of the Father and the Son. And may the spirit of God, the spirit of God, be with you all your days.” My eyes filled with tears as Grace sheepishly smiled while the class sang this powerful song to bless her on her birthday, and I thought to myself, “This is exactly where God wants us to be.”
In making the decision to pursue Catholic education for our children, many have asked us how we make it work financially. Some have even questioned whether paying for school twice (through property taxes and tuition) is really worth it. The answer for our family is yes; it’s worth every penny. We are by no means a wealthy family; we struggle as many other families do to make ends meet. We decided to make Catholic education a priority and have embraced the sacrifices that go along with that decision. Sometimes the sacrifices are simple like going out to eat less often, and other times they are more difficult like forgoing family vacations or taking shorter trips closer to home. All in all, we wouldn’t change our decision; it is right for our family. We are now part of a strong Catholic community that does more than help our daughter grow; we are all learning and growing together as a family. For that, we are thankful beyond measure.
“Education is the art of helping young people to completeness; for the Christian, this means education is helping a young person to be more like Christ, the model of all Christians.”
– Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C.
Amber Fogarty is a wife, mom of two, Partner with SOS Leadership Institute, and Instructor at St. Edward’s University. She is a passionate advocate for those experiencing homelessness in our community and proudly serves on the Board of Directors for Mobile Loaves & Fishes. Amber believes her calling in life is to motivate people to own their role as leaders who make a difference. First and foremost, this calling starts at home – by looking in the mirror and then infusing leadership lessons into the daily lives of her two young children. You can follow her on Twitter, read the SOS Leadership blog or email her.