By DIANE STARKOVICH, Ph.D., Special to the Bulletin | Published August 22, 2014
Welcome back to the 2014-2015 school year! As the last of our archdiocesan Catholic schools opens this week, it seems appropriate to extend this greeting to all students who are returning to classrooms this fall. Some students are entering school for the first time; others are beginning high school or perhaps college as their proud parents witness the next phase of their children’s educational journeys. Many students return to school with familiar routines and friends not seen since last May. Whatever the circumstances and wherever the location where new learning takes place, may this 2014-2015 school year provide opportunities for academic challenges and growth in a safe, nurturing and caring environment.
The strength of our archdiocesan Catholic schools can be found in the two hallmarks of quality Catholic education: strong faith formation and academic excellence. This expectation of excellent service to our students is evidenced through the existence of clearly defined institutional guidelines and frameworks at the local and archdiocesan level to ensure student and school success. The responsibility of a Catholic school is both enormous and complex. “The Catholic school must respect and obey the laws that define methods, programs, structure, etc., and at the same time it must fulfill its own educational goals by blending human culture with the message of salvation into a coordinated program: it must help each of the students to actually become the new creature that each one is potentially, and at the same time prepare them for the responsibilities of an adult member of society.” (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education (1998), “Religious Dimensions of Education in a Catholic School”)
The graduate profile defined for students in our Catholic schools states that our students are:
Disciples of Christ who…
are centered on Gospel values,
recognize the gifts they have been given by God,
are willing to serve others in their community and beyond, and
understand and live their faith according to God’s will.
Lifelong learners who…
have mastered the appropriate basic skills and concepts,
are able to apply what they have learned to real life situations,
are able to use technology as problem solving tools, and
are able to think critically, communicate effectively, and work collaboratively.
Well-rounded individuals who…
make wise ethical and moral decisions,
are self-confident, self-disciplined people of integrity,
are creative and open-minded, and
are respectful and productive citizens.
As our system of schools continues its path toward excellence, we are mindful and grateful for the tremendous support we receive to achieve our stated goals. We pledge to uphold our continuous plan of improvement to positively impact student learning and archdiocesan effectiveness in reaching the two fruits of a Catholic education: outstanding faith formation and an academic education second to none.
Let the spiritual and academic journey found in this new school year begin! It truly is a blessing and my privilege to guide the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Atlanta.
Diane Starkovich is the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.