I was not able to upload this blog post late last night as scheduled. The following is my gratitude blog post for yesterday, November 14, 2012.
Has God been invited to enter the halls of St. Louis Catholic School? And if so, how is God treated once his presence is felt in the cafeteria, the front office, the classrooms, the playground, and during meal times? The answer to these questions comprises the single most important reason why my husband and I selected St. Louis School as our school of choice for our daughter - - for its very dedication to God.
Just yesterday, I sat in the afternoon carpool lane, listening to music, basking in the sunshine while waiting for my daughter to come out of the school building. (“Carpool” is jargon St. Louis School uses to describe the process in which parents drop off and pick up students from school. There is no bus system.)
All of a sudden, the parent in front of me got out of her car and asked if I had jumper cables. She couldn’t start her car. Besides startling me and reminding me of the necessity of having an emergency car care kit (I’m on it!), the parent’s request got an immediate reply from the parent in the car behind me, who was far more equipped than me!
In that split second, I felt God’s presence, right there in the school parking lot. One person had a need and another person met that need. Kindness in spirit and action 101. That is only one small example, though.
The students at St. Louis School start their day off with morning prayers. Lunchtime prayers are recited. Every Friday, the entire school attends mass. Many of the school teachings relate to a scripture lesson involving a story from the bible, a commandment, or a beatitude. The kids end the day with afternoon prayers.
In essence, there is so much God going around every which way in the school, that it would not surprise me to see him embodied in physical form, wearing a clean, pressed school uniform, excitedly raising his hand and having a good time during show and tell.
Once inside the school hall and in every square inch of the school grounds, God is on the mind and lips of every teacher, administrator, staff person, and parent. You can see it during prayers; you can feel it in the camaraderie, smiles, and friendships that abound. The fact that God is welcome in the school and actively invoked is a sign of tolerance, respect, and adoration.
Another way to describe the presence of God at St. Louis School is by referring to its corporate culture. Traditionally, a corporate culture refers to the atmosphere and business practices of a business. Every business has its own way of doing things; that is their corporate culture. By analogy, the corporate culture at St. Louis School is to love and serve God through academic teachings that are Christ-centered.
I first became a part of the corporate culture of St. Louis School last year, when my daughter entered kindergarten. That was her first formal schooling experience. She suffered a serious form of separation anxiety that took an entire year of love, patience, and different techniques to correct. I fully acknowledge and credit her teachers, Mrs. English and Mrs. Ledbetter, for getting us through that miserable hump.
Towards the end of my daughter’s first year in kindergarten, I learned that many of the teachers knew my daughter by name. “How is this possible?” I thought to myself. While my daughter suffered, almost on a daily basis, the other teachers and administrators rallied around her. Some teachers reached out to her, others prayed for her success.
The teachers rejoiced when they finally saw my daughter smiling, confident, and socializing with the kids in her class. The teachers could not believe that was the same shy girl who would not stop crying in the beginning of the school year. They were so happy for her.
If that is not the spirit of God embodied in these teachers that helped my daughter get through a rough patch, then I don’t know what is.
Public schools, by contrast, may appear shiny and exciting on the outside, with their successful overhauls of cafeteria foods and top-of-the-line science, math, and athletics programs. For me, all of that shine is a fragile façade that masks the bigger issue of God not being welcome within the halls of public schools.
In most cases in public schools, prayer is not welcome, appreciated, or tolerated. And there is also a pretty strong movement of advocates that are fighting to remove the words “under God…” from the pledge of allegiance. These burgeoning issues only serve to divide people and their belief systems. Nothing positive has resulted from those strong opinions, except for cementing the reasons why people like me choose to send their children to Catholic schools.
I will gladly make the requisite financial sacrifices to make sure that my daughter receives quality education while being allowed to openly pray.
Because I am so impressed with the corporate culture of St. Louis Catholic School in practicing what it preaches (to love and serve God), I am incredibly grateful and indebted.
St. Louis has a bunch of amazing things going on. Improvements within the classroom, participation in numerous enrichment activities, a behemoth parent-teacher organization that brims with active projects, successful art, music, and foreign language programs, and exciting new initiatives, such as the annual fund and the preschool, to name a few.
As great as all of those things are, for me, they create the thick, rich, luscious chocolate icing on the cake of God. Underneath the wonderful features of St. Louis Catholic School lies the heart of the matter, which is a genuine and palpable presence of God within the school halls.
I am grateful for all that St. Louis has done for us as a family, but most especially, for my daughter.