Discover Catholic School’s Week: Parents share why they chose a Catholic education for their child

National Catholic Schools Week is an annual celebration of Catholic education in the United States sponsored by the National Catholic Education Association. Now entering its 47th anniversary year, the week-long festivities have been traditionally held the last week in January. This year, however, the campaign is taking a year-round marketing approach to how it communicates and connects with prospective families, donors, educators and other community members in efforts to showcase what makes Catholic schools the best when families are choosing the right school for them.

From Nov. 8-14, 2020, Catholic schools around the nation will focus renewed efforts in marketing their spiritual and academic values that make them a vital part of the Catholic and secular community through the newly branded Discover Catholic Schools Week. Then, from Jan. 31 – Feb. 6, 2021, the traditional Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated in honor of Catholic education in the United States. Schools typically observe the week with Masses, assemblies and other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members.

Vanessa Smith, a new parent to St. Anastasia School in Fort Pierce, shared what she has “discovered” so far about Catholic education that has made a difference in her family’s life. Her daughter, Lennin, is in the Pre-K 4 class and is adjusting to her new school after its reopening post-pandemic.

“Safety was a big issue for us returning to school after the COVID-19 shutdowns,” said Smith. “Lennin’s teacher, Ms. Brennan, has made us feel secure in the school’s health and safety procedures through detailed communication. During the pandemic, we’ve had a ‘figure it out as you go’ mentality, and St. Anastasia has made this time of change and transition far less painful than we thought it would be.”

Smith also shared that she and her family are non-denominational Christians and were looking for a faith-based education for their daughter. They were hesitant to enroll in a Catholic school, not being Catholic themselves, but Smith said they have “never felt more welcome” and “heard” in a recent parent-teacher conference.

The curriculum also drew Smith to St. Anastasia, stating that she has witnessed teachers take the time to meet students where they are and help them get where they need to be academically. Labeling herself as a “hands-on parent,” Smith joined the school’s Parent Advisory Council and is gaining insight to what makes a Catholic education like none other.

“Everyone from the principal down to the teacher helpers in the afternoon pick-up line are loving, caring and excellent educators,” said Smith. “They will answer any question I have about how my daughter’s day went or just be there for a moment of reassurance. It feels like family.” 

This family-like feeling is also what drew Gina Jemay Griffin to St. Vincent Ferrer School in Delray Beach when choosing a school for her first-grade son, Patrick.

“Patrick's relationship with his teachers is beautiful, and the way he talks about them shows his love of them. Soon after meeting his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson, Patrick excitedly was a Cubs fan, like she is, and wanted to listen to and sing ‘Go Cubs, Go.’ His confidence and interest in learning continues to grow with their encouragement,” she said. 

Griffin explained that her introduction to St. Vincent Ferrer School was through its annual festival. “I was amazed by the three-day event and attended it annually before Patrick was even born. I loved seeing the families enjoying the rides and entertainment. I now know that a team of volunteers puts the festival together each year to raise money and awareness for the school; and the families and students put in hours of their time to make it a special event.”

She fondly recalled that when Patrick was born, she brought him in to meet Principal Vikki Delgado when he was still a baby. “We just knew St. Vincent Ferrer was the school for him. Strong academics and discipline, along with the loving atmosphere I'd already grown to love, made it an easy choice.

She continued, “With so much uncertainty in the world, a Catholic school offers some certainty to a child's life. Knowing that Patrick will be attending St. Vincent Ferrer School through eighth-grade and growing up with classmates who've been taught the same traditional moral values as he has, provides an important sense of community; a stable atmosphere that every child needs in order to grow and reach his or her full potential.”

To learn more about St. Anastasia School, visit saintanastasiaschool.org or call 772-461-2232. To learn more about St. Vincent Ferrer School, visit stvfschool.org or call (561) 278-3868. Stay updated on the happenings of the 17 diocesan Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Palm Beach by following the Office of Catholic School on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DoPBCatholicSchools or by visiting diocesepbschools.org.