Most high school sophomores eventually get to A Tale of Two Cities and Dickens' "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," is arguably the best opening line in literature. With a nod to those young readers, we can acknowledge that our two counties (Lake, Cook) of Catholic Schools could say the same.
It is the best of times: more teachers are now trained catechists, thousands of community and parish service hours, renewed integration with the Eucharist in the Year of Strong Catholic Parents, highest ACT and Terra Nova scores to date, active board participation, historic, though, modest, increase in enrollment, the generous and ambitious To Teach Who Christ Is campaign, Leadership Academy and mentoring for administrators, focused professional development for teachers, new emphasis on special services for students, renewed cooperation with parish staff, civic organizations, and donors.
It is the worst of times: families impacted by school closures despite best efforts, lagging professional salaries for our certified teachers and administrators, challenges to buildings stemming from years of unfunded depreciation, continued failure of Illinois politicians to recognize the right of parents to educate their children and allow educational monies to follow the children to non-public schools, and a deteriorating public knowledge of the proven power of the Catholic School to shape Church and society.
Better, perhaps rather than getting pulled into the Dickens' dichotomy of the "spring of hope...winter of despair," we can best focus on a mission that does see "we have everything before us" as we reflect this Catholic Schools Week, grateful for all that went before us in 2013. Please do take the time to read our annual report.
For our Catholic schools, all time is an invitation into the sacred time, God's own Kairos time where grace reaches into dark corners and makes things both new and possible with love and work. Check out the latest on our Facebook or Twitter pages. Go visit one of our fine schools during Catholic Schools Week; see the power of this sacred time with young people.
P.S. Enjoy this video of gratitude and appreciation to all our Catholic School Parents!