By Dr. Samuel Torres
The sounds of summer have faded. Students and families have enjoyed summer activities such as baseball, sports camps, art camps, water and travel, and many other family activities. Children have enjoyed schedules that encourage autonomy, resilience, growth and family cohesion.
But now it’s time for families to return to school schedules, changing focus and supporting new goals. A typical school schedule runs about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is often followed by cocurricular activities such as sports, theater, dance, art, decathlon and more that keep kids busy in the afternoon and evening. Through these experiences, students learn to manage their time, while growing in empathy, competitiveness, cooperation and spirituality leading to the development and eagerness of lifelong learning.
As the school year begins, we reflect on expectations for parents, students and educators. I always like to begin with the initial and established reason for why Catholic education was established. Up until recent history Catholic schools were staffed with religious sisters and brothers whose sole vocation was to form and establish Catholic school environments that reflected Christian discipleship. The formation of students involved a well-rounded curriculum based soundly on Christian values and Catholic tradition.
Students completed their sacraments and some pursued religious life. During this experience, students were prepared for higher learning and our history tells us that most graduates successfully filled universities across our nation and went on to contribute to society in many ways. Of course, all programs and activities were rooted in sound Catholic tradition and formation. This tried-and-true formula continues for today’s San Bernardino diocesan students. We are fortunate to possess many talented and well-educated faculty to support this mission. When respect, inclusion and care for another exist, we successfully meet the target of the goals.
Let’s briefly discuss the expectations based on the church’s understanding that parents are the primary educators of their children. This is a tremendous responsibility for parents/guardians, and our expectation as Catholic educators is that they will participate, support, communicate and cooperate with the process and programs designed to meet the goals for developing disciples of Christ on their way to higher learning and the participation of the church.
As parents, you are choosing an education for your child in a Catholic environment. It really does take all our commitment to create the fully supported environment children require to meet their goals. Educators have chosen to teach and imitate Jesus, our great teacher, whose empathy and patience guided his disciples in learning the truths and mysteries of our faith. The expectation of our students is to come with an open mind and a heart full of love for fellow students. All are welcome, and guidance is afforded for all ability levels.
At the conclusion of each school year, a beautiful thing has taken shape, when the school community has embraced the children of the school in a unique and personal manner. We have participated in a project that none of us could have accomplished on our own. The formation of disciples for Christ, disciples on their way to emulating the values and qualities of those who have served them will be seen.
If you have a skill, time or treasure that you wish to share with a school community, feel free to contact your local Catholic school or the Office of Catholic Schools.
Dr. Samuel Torres is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of San Bernardino.