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Cardinals In The News

On a Mission With a Vision

What makes a Catholic school education different from either another type of private school or public school education?

What makes a Catholic school education different from either another type of private school or public school education? It comes down to the mission of the school. I believe that all students, teachers, staff, parents and guardians, and administrators are made in the image and likeness of God. There is untapped potential and holy perfection in each of us. Our daily work as well as our long-range vision anchored as a vital and sustainable living institution of the Gospel must stem from the teachings of Christ. Our Catholic identity must be tangible, witnessed and experienced daily in an organically synthesized system, manifesting itself in all that we do: from classroom curriculum and content to faculty, staff, and administration interactions to student-to-student connections to parent-teacher relationships to school and community exchanges. As Pope Francis has stated, “An education in the fullness of humanity must be the defining feature of Catholic schools.” We, as a Catholic school, must envision, facilitate, nurture, demand, and re-vision our focal and primary tenet—that is a Gospel-centered environment. In short, the manner in which we educate our students at Cardinal Newman School is different than that of a public or private school education because our mission is different.

Catholic identity and faith formation rest at the heart of our curriculum. Within our Diocesan Curriculum reside essential questions that are centered in Gospel values and Catholic Social Justice Teachings. In a seventh grade ELA class while students are reading Home of the Brave, they will consider questions such as “How can facing difficulty with courage help us to be successful?” In a ninth grade Biology class, students will recognize and discuss the perfect order of God’s universe as they look through the microscope’s lens and analyze the perfect structure of a cell. In a high school Band class, students will learn to work collectively and be mutually respectful of their peers. These lessons not only create well-educated, problem-solving young people, it assists in forming socially conscious, kind, and proactive future leaders. And it is not only in what is being learned, but how the lesson is being delivered. Should anyone visit a Cardinal Newman classroom, one should expect to see students stand and greet the visitor. Classes begin with prayer. Students raise their hands, speak with tact and politeness. Teachers teach with dignity of the human person at the core of their rapport with their students. We take time in our day to focus on our students’ and our own spiritual health. For example, during Advent, teachers took their classes to our chapel Our Lady of Joyful Hope, located at the center and heart of the campus for adoration and confession—and yes, this occurred during class time in that frantic end-of-quarter chaos. And that is exactly why time in the chapel is so valuable for both students and faculty.

This same faith formation occurs on the soccer field, the volleyball court, the baseball field, etc., as our young men and women athletes are taught life lessons that extend well beyond the final buzzer or the last run. In speaking to our athletes at the Football Sports Banquet in December, Coach Dutton told the attendees that the character of the player and the team effort of the organization far supersede wins and losses and MVPs—these are the lessons that our students walk away with that are invaluable. Our student leaders organize and run retreats, pep rallies, and service events—even our school liturgies—with the guidance and moderation of our teachers. This type of system fosters and creates future community leaders who lead collaboratively.

It is this type of environment that makes Cardinal Newman School successful in so many ways. And while we are very proud of our newest accolade determined by The State newspaper: “Best Private School,” this is not what makes us special. It is in the fact that our students leave Cardinal Newman ready for college success. They leave our hallways prepared to lead, prepared to collaborate, prepared to persevere. And they come back to visit Cardinal Newman at Homecoming games or over their college breaks and share their newest successes with us—and that is when I know that we are doing something right!

Assistant Principal for Curriculum and Instruction Condra ('85)

**Read this article and others in the winter issue of Cardinal MATTERS, which will be in your mailbox by the end of the month!