Written by Therese Allison
When it was time to enroll our firstborn for school, we explored all available options to ensure we made the best decision for our family academically, spiritually and socially. I remember attending an open house and sitting with the advancement director, who very patiently answered my nearly endless list of questions regarding test scores, high school placements, financial security and enrollment. Ultimately it was less the answers to those questions, but all the other intangibles that solidified our decision to enroll our children in Catholic school.
Our children have been at Saint Mary’s in Williamstown for almost six years, and we are confident that a Catholic school education was and continues to be the right decision for our family. Saint Mary’s provides a safe, faith and family focused, supportive, academically challenging environment that reinforces and shares the morals and values we work to instill in our home.
It is impossible for us to imagine our children learning in an environment where they cannot openly pray and express their faith. Religion is not just a class once per day at a Catholic school. It is seamlessly woven in to the overall experience from morning prayer to closing prayer.
I was visiting the school library one day and started chatting with a teacher. She asked if my husband had returned from his work trip. I was puzzled, unsure how she knew he had been away. She explained that my son seemed distracted in class one day and she asked if there was anything he wanted to talk about. He opened up to her that his dad is a lineman and left the night before on a storm trip and he didn’t know when he would be able to come home. The teacher led the class in prayer for a safe trip and quick return for my husband.
Imagining the support and love my son must have felt knowing his entire class and teacher were praying for his dad made my heart warm. These moments of prayer and support, which would be absent in other learning environments, help to strengthen friendships and my son’s faith in God.
For our family it is clear that the value in a Catholic education and the long lasting effects it will have on our children outweigh any temporary financial sacrifice we make. Living more of a minimalist lifestyle allows us to provide our children the experience of living and learning lessons in compassion, charity and community in a loving, supportive, Christ-centered school environment. Our children adore their school and those who fill it. From the smiling and dancing eighth grade students who greet them in the carline each morning, to the amazing nurse and everyone in between, Catholic schools are a family unlike any other.