By Superintendent Samuel Torres
The National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) is a highly recognizable supporter of Catholic educators in our America. Recently, they reached out to me when they realized our data reflected an increase in enrollment in our diocese. I described a typical day in the life of our schools and discussed the many examples of how our school leaders live out Catholic values on campuses throughout our diocese. The information will be used to inform conference leaders and speakers across our nation.
Conferences and interaction among Catholic School leaders and educators provide the necessary opportunity to discuss best practices and problem solving related to administering education for today’s youth. I have come to discover the unique and varied populations and diverse traditions associated with our families which plays out on our campuses. In my conversation, I highlight the respect and high level of involvement that our educators have provided for students and families. It’s a chief factor in retention and the 18 percent enrollment increase.
Other factors contributing to higher enrollment and retention are the recent upgrades in technology, excellent faith formation, a high level of service achievement and successful matriculation to notable universities as reported by our schools. I was very careful to underscore that none of these are possible without the staff, volunteers, benefactors and continual collaboration in an environment that shares the values of our Catholic faith.
I would be remiss if I did not include the topic of fiscal responsibility. Catholic Schools have been notorious for careful spending. Catholic Leaders who are careful spenders and responsible savers can provide much for their students and protect the fiscal futures for our legacy families. The pandemic sent school children home on March 13, 2020. We experienced a decrease in students and collected tuition but with the knowledge and ability of our principals, all schools remained open. Our principals toiled daily and became excellent stewards of families’ hard earned tuition dollars. Our tuition remains affordable, and we proudly maintain a high level of accessibility to our religious traditions, technology, the arts and sports.
Pat yourself on the back if you have supported Catholic campuses and educational leaders. We know we are not doing this alone. To be a nationally recognized diocese at a time when we are experiencing a pandemic is a wonderful honor and a great report card for us. We will never take our eye off the importance of Catholic education for the children of this diocese. We will continually evaluate our practices for the betterment of the children we serve.
Dr. Samuel Torres is the Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.