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Mon, Jul 14, 2014 06:45 AM
Issue of July 9, 2014
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The value of a Catholic education


My Opinion


January 22, 2014 | 01:45 PM

The importance of hard work, of always doing one's best, of helping others and, most importantly, always trusting that God will be there no matter what, these are a few of the things my Catholic school education instilled in me.

As students, we prayed several times a day, took part in Mass and had religion class. Faith wasn't something we practiced on Sunday mornings; it was part of every single day.

St. Joseph Catholic School in Corydon has been providing a faith-based education for 50 years; my father-in-law, Joseph Ferriell, was a member of the first graduating class. When we had our children, my husband, Darin, and I knew they'd attend St. Joseph just as we both had. We agree that our St. Joseph experience was absolutely vital in shaping us into the adults we are now and in making our faith truly part of our daily lives.

Question of the Week
Do you think Catholic schools better prepare children for the real world?
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Our daughter, Sylvia, is in the pre-kindergarten program at St. Joseph. I love that there's a section on her progress report for religion, including such items as "shows awareness of Jesus in one's world" and "participates in prayer time." Please don't misunderstand; the preschool program is very academic and she is also writing and learning all the letters and sounds as well as numbers. Preschool parents have the option of enrolling their children full time. Our oldest son, Hays, is a kindergarten student at St. Joe.

Choosing a private school education does mean some measure of financial sacrifice but not nearly so much as one might think. Thanks to recent measures adopted by the Indiana Legislature, many families qualify for vouchers or Choice scholarships. St. Joseph principal Julie Crone says, "Eighty percent of our families are receiving vouchers or scholarships." A family of four can make $76,507 and receive half off their child's tuition. Those at higher income levels often qualify for Choice scholarships, typically $1,000 or $500 a year, depending on income.

Crone said the two measures "have made a significant difference for families. The whole premise is that a certain amount of money is set aside for education for every child in Indiana."

Previously, if a child attended private school, the money remained in a pot in Indianapolis. "It just wasn't used," said Crone, explaining that the money was never directed to the public school district in which the child's family resided.

Legislators decided the money should follow the student and parents should be able to decide that those dollars be directed toward a private school education if that's what they choose. "They've made it affordable for almost all people," said Crone.

Parents who think they can't afford a private school education definitely need to educate themselves; many will be pleasantly surprised.

A faith-based education is the answer to what many bemoan is missing from today's public schools. Until the 1960s, prayer was common in public schools and morality and values were clearly taught. With the increasing diversity of our nation, however, how do you choose which religion to endorse? Clearly, you can't, and religion disappeared from public schools.

But, in a Catholic or other private church school, "faith is integrated," said Crone, who's taught in Catholic schools for 35 years. "We nurture not only the mind and academic side, but also the spiritual being. We can teach morality; that there is right and wrong and things you shouldn't do. We're able to deal with the child in a more holistic nature."

That's what we value about Catholic education and why we're so grateful our children will have the same experience we did. I don't know any parent who doesn't want their child to grow into a caring, considerate adult, and most want their child to love God and make faith a part of his life. A Catholic school education enhances what parents are working so hard to instill in their children.

In recognition of Catholic Schools Week, St. Joseph School will host a chili supper and open house Saturday at 6:30 p.m. Anyone interested in learning more about the school is encouraged to attend. There is no charge. Parents are also encouraged to call Crone at 738-4549 for more information about the school.

Editor's note: Stephanie Ferriell is president of the St. Joseph Catholic School PTO.

  1. print email
    Catholic schools.
    January 24, 2014 | 01:30 PM

    St Joseph has been a very good experience for my daughter. She has a loving, caring heart, and keeps her faith at the forefront of her decisions. They have supported her well in her academics. She will graduate this year, and I'm very proud of the person she is becoming. If you have even the slightest interest in St Joseph. Please come visit the school. You'll love what you see.

    Susan
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    A Catholic Education
    January 24, 2014 | 06:18 PM

    The article by "Guest Writer", Stephanie Ferriell was excellent ! Thank you. I am 72 years old and never attended a Catholic school, however we had one in the small town where I grew up in Upstate New York. My family were all devout Catholics and I often wish I had gone there. The public school was within walking distance of where we lived, however, it was still a good, well rounded education. Back then, most....if not all...public schools were a thing to be proud of...not like they are today with "brain washing," common core, unqualified teachers, etc. Thank God we still have Catholic schools and with their voucher programs and tax credit scholarships, nearly any family can afford to send their children there. Thanks again for focusing on this very important issue.

    Larry T. Savard
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    Private Schools/Vouchers
    January 28, 2014 | 12:41 PM

    We sent our daughter to a Catholic school and she received a very well rounded education which really prepared her for college.

    We struggled financially to pay her tuition to these schools, and it really makes me angry that now a family can get vouchers and get that same tuition paid for by taxpayers, that we had to suffer through.

    Yet another bill on the backs of taxpayers. We still have the expenses at the public schools that the children would have attended, so we're basically paying twice.


    JWLaconia
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    Vouchers
    January 28, 2014 | 06:16 PM

    I can sympathize with the concerns of JWLaconia, as I am a small government advocate who neither expects, nor wants, to create additional financial burden for the tax base. When my wife and I considered vouchers I looked into how they are funded. I was relieved to find that the money that would have been allocated to my children for public schools was simply redirected to the school we chose to send our sons.

    In addition, I will offer that we are transplants to Indiana, and we originally had intentions of eventually moving back to our home state. We have decided to stay in Indiana, though, and the voucher program is a HUGE reason why.

    ARCorydon
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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 • 1-812-738-2211 • email