Monday, August 07, 2006

Catholic Schools

As mentioned here recently, I will be teaching a little math at a Catholic high school this fall, (actually starting today...) Interestingly, Amy Welborn has a post yesterday about Catholic schools (in this case how one goes about choosing the school for one's kids.) This section really caught my eye:

When I taught in Florida, I had a marvelous theology department - three of us - knowledgeable, faithful folks, determined to teach and to overcome the history of the department (personified by a coach who gave everyone A's and so on, because "you can't grade people on their faith!") and to provide a balanced, interesting curriculum.

We did a good job. We did good jobs. But in the end, we could have only a limited impact because the culture of the school - an identity which emphasized being a "private" school as opposed to a Catholic on, and a student body that was 40% non-Catholic, only a sporadic chaplain presence (priests came around to say Mass once a month or so) other factors eventually led all three of us to greener pastures. I often think of my student Kelly - a wonderful girl who was totally serious about her faith, and was really the only one in her class, was subtly ostracized for it, and shed some tears about it at the Senior Retreat.

There's a power there, in that mileu that one or two teachers can't beat - a totally committed administration, who took a close look at the teaching staff (majority non-Catholic, and young God bless them, (because of the low pay) but you know....when you, the religion teacher, have to explain to the Honors World History teacher who Constantine was and what he've got a problem...) and admissions might do it, but...lacking that..

This perfectly describes the school I am going to teach at some 8-10 years ago when my daughter attended there for 1 year. (That was the point we decided to give homeschooling a fling-at that time for us, it was an agonizing decision-but the right one, it turns out.) The religion teacher was orthodox and devout-but the school's culture was secular to say the least. Since that time, a new principle was hired, and he did make strides to bring a Catholic identity to the school. Now for instance, there is a constant Eucharistic presence on campus. A couple years ago a priest was teaching at least one course. But that principal has moved on. A new principal starts this year (last year they had an interim principal). It will be interesting to see what the school is like now-and the direction it goes.


In a related note, blogging may be a little less common than in the past. I am going to try to post something everyday, but multiple posts will be scarce. More on this later.

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