Are you seeking a safe, nurturing school environment for your child this year, one that is dedicated to academic excellence, innovation and lifelong success? A Catholic school might be the answer.
Before you start exploring your options, though, you should separate the facts from the misconceptions about Catholic school.
Myth # 1: Non-Catholics are not welcome at Catholic school
While Catholic schools are founded on principles of Christian character and teachings, students of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome. At Holy Family Catholic Schools in Dubuque, Iowa, for example, a growing number of students are not Catholic. Many parents are simply looking for a nurturing learning environment for their children that supports spiritual and emotional growth in addition to academics.
Myth #2: Catholic schools are unaffordable for ordinary families
Nearly half the students at Holy Family schools receive tuition assistance that allows all families to invest in their children’s education affordably. “If you’re committed to providing your child with a quality Catholic education, Holy Family is committed to helping you achieve it,” says Chief Administrator Carol Trueg. The return on investment for children at Holy Family schools is impressive; 100 percent of the student body graduate and more than 90 percent advance to higher education. The percentage of Holy Family students who graduate from college is also double the Iowa average.
Myth #3: Catholic schools hire teachers who aren’t good enough to get better-paying jobs in public schools.
Like all public schools, Holy Family is fully accredited by the State of Iowa and every one of its teachers is licensed by the state. The teachers who work at Holy Family often choose to do so as a way to combine their faith with their profession, and because of the schools’ stellar reputation as a robust learning environment. For those reasons, Holy Family has attracted a deeply talented faculty who are highly invested in their work. This has resulted in a very low turnover for the system as a whole.
Myth #4: Catholic schools are stuck in the past This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Many Catholic schools across the country, including Holy Family schools, are dedicated to providing cutting-edge STEM education in order to prepare students for a world that cannot be imagined today. Holy Family students are exposed to technology in elementary school and have broad access to computers and science-based curricula and projects. In middle school, students have 1:1 computer access. Every middle school student also spends 90 hours learning pre-engineering and pre-science courses. High school students have the opportunity to pursue studies in a variety of engineering tracks. Holy Family even offers STEM-based summer camps. “STEM requires students to be problem solvers,” says Trueg, “and the world desperately needs more problem solvers.”
Myth #5: Catholic Schools promote conformity and diminish individuality
A school dress code enhances a spirit of equality among peers and reduces distractions. By providing these simple guidelines, Holy Family allows students to better focus on more important aspects of their educational experience. Holy Family celebrates the individuality of our students by encouraging them to develop their creative expression and critical thinking skills while holding high expectations for student behavior and respectful communication.
Myth# 6: Catholic school isn’t the real world because all the kids are the same
Holy Family welcomes diversity in its schools as a way to deepen understanding across cultures. Students at Holy Family schools study and celebrate many different cultures and attend schools that are no less diverse than the Dubuque area itself.
Myth #7: Because of their small enrollments, Catholic schools lack academic, athletic and activity options
It is true that Catholic schools tend to have impressively small classes and low student-teacher ratios (18:1 at Holy Family, compared to a benchmark for excellence of 25:1 in schools statewide). But because there is less competition for slots on organizations like the robotics team, the football team and the dance squad, a higher percentage of students participate in the full array of after-school activities. And they are plenty competitive. The Golden Eagles boys’ hoops team has played for three of the past four state 3A championships, taking the crown twice.