“What will the new year be like?” This is a question we consider every January 1. New beginnings are times of hope, joy and promise, bursting with endless possibilities. On that very first day of the year, we wonder what will transpire over the next 365 days.
The start of this new academic year is no less charged with possibility; like a newborn child whose story is still untold, so during these days of August, when faculty, administration, staff and students convene to commence a year of teaching, learning and growing, we venture into the great unknown.
But we are not without guides, as though we have been cast upon the waters of some great sea, helplessly trying to find our way.
We enter this school year, armed with data; we know which pedagogical methods are more likely to succeed better than others. We have curricula, goals and expected outcomes. We benefit from analytics to ensure the best learning environment for each and every student.
We also approach the new term, fortified by the treasure of the same Catholic faith that inspired communities of religious women and men to establish these schools; this faith still guides our work. Indeed, we are not without direction, not floating aimlessly upon the sea, for we have a North Star to keep us on course. And He is Jesus, the Christ, our Way, our Truth and our Life.
Whether in science, math, language, religion, or any other class, the catholicity of our schools always leads students to the starting point that is also the goal of our each of our lives: the Lord Jesus. We proclaim him to be Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End of all things. He gives meaning to our work, our knowledge, our whole lives.
Our Catholic Elementary Schools, in particular, are at a crossroad. The old methods have run their course, even as we strain to adopt new ways of strengthening leadership and teaching. What occurs in the Catholic School classroom today barely resembles the same place just five years ago! Here, in San Jose, “Drexel Schools” employ a “blended learning” model and individualized assessment and testing. There are now nine elementary schools in this system. Six schools will come under a new “diocesan governance” model this month. The benefits of this model are many, including professional oversight of school administration by our diocesan Department of Education.
Today, Catholic Schools are one of the best kept secrets in the Church. Not only are our schools committed to excellence in education, but their dedication to what it is to be Catholic and how to form Catholic leaders for this century set our schools apart from others.
And so, as we begin the 2017-2018 school year, I offer encouragement to students to do your very best in your classes, your sporting and your extra-curricular activities, and remember to do your homework! To faculty, administration and staff, accept my thanks for your commitment to the enterprise of Catholic Education. To the parishioners and benefactors whose constant support allows our schools to continue to prosper, my great gratitude and that of all of our students. And, last but far from least, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you, parents and grandparents who sacrifice so much so that your children can share the gift you make possible for them as students in our elementary schools, middle schools and high schools.
May God bless you all in this new school year.
With every best wish and kind regard, I remain,
Patrick J. McGrath
Bishop of San Jose