THE "FUTURE" is a nebulous concept; part bricks and mortar, part vision, part commitment, part hopes and dreams. It is a curious blend of the abstract and the concrete, a combination of good luck and good planning.
When the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh speak about “Building the Future,” however, there is an added dimension. We are promising to make that future as bright as possible for the thousands of students whose families have chosen Catholic education. In our Catholic schools, that bright future does not just “happen.” We plan for it, build for it, welcome it, and offer it to our students and the community. We have been dong it successfully for 180 years.
PHILOSOPHY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION
The schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh are uniquely Catholic. They exist for the purpose of promoting a Catholic way of life based on Gospel values. The Catholic Schools play an important role in transmitting the faith, in building community, and in promoting service. To preserve traditional moral and religious values and to meet the new ethical challenges in tomorrow's society, emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision making.
The curriculum of the schools reflects these Catholic principles through integration of the faith into all areas of instruction. Dedicated professionals whose teaching ministry is based on a love for the Church create an environment that is communal and service oriented. The leadership of Pastor and Principal provides for opportunities for Catholic practice including liturgies, reception of the sacraments, and other spiritual experiences.
The curriculum of the Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Pittsburgh is student-centered, rooted in the uniqueness of the individual child. This philosophy becomes enfleshed within the schools. Students are encouraged and motivated to develop their academic potential. This concept of individual differences is a significant factor in designing curriculum. No two people learn in the same way, at a uniform rate or at a common point in time with identical degrees of mastery, confidence and personal satisfaction. It is obvious then, that the organizational plan will differ from school to school. It is the responsibility of the principal with the faculty to plan and implement the philosophy. Flexibility of grouping plus opportunity for individual assignments are integral to the organizational structure of the school.
The Catholic Schools of the Diocese are committed to excellence in its spiritual and academic goals. All instruction, all learning, all activities are directed to the full development of the human person, for the welfare of earthly society and the building of the Kingdom of God.
We Build on Faith
The spiritual dimension of humankind is at the heart of our Catholic schools, belief in a benevolent Creator who calls us to love one another both in theory and in action. This element is visible every day in the way our students interact and the way they serve. The uncountable hours of service our students provide for each other and for the community are not a way to “keep score;” they are simply the reflection of the desire to do the Will of God.
We seek to develop in our students a strong moral sense and the strength to adhere to it. We strive to develop clear values and the willingness to reflect them in daily living.
It is not enough to “just say no” to the negative forces that often surround our schools and our culture; our students are also taught to say “yes” to Christ’s invitation to, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Thus spiritual growth, moral clarity, and strong values help define our vision of the future.
We Build on Excellence
Achievement is almost taken for granted in our Catholic Schools – but not quite. Excellence is not an accident, it is an expectation. Our students are challenged to commit themselves to achieve at the highest level of which they are capable, and they are supported in this quest by their families, their parishes, and their communities.
We Build on Tradition
There was a time when, as a new parish was created, the school was opened before the church itself was completed, often at great sacrifice. While the building of both churches and schools has slowed, the willingness to sacrifice and to build remains. Many of our parishes and schools have completed construction on a variety of projects; others have building plans underway.
Sacrificing for bricks and mortar, however, is not our only tradition. There is the tradition of committed and well-prepared teachers and administrators, many of them educated in our own schools, willing to pursue both state and diocesan certification because it adds an extra dimension to the future.
There is the tradition of support provided by the entire Catholic community, reinforcing the messages we give our students, willing to show their support with millions of dollars in tuition aid to our families.
There is the tradition of diversity reflected not only in our enrollments and programming – witness the successes of the Extra Mile Foundation Schools, St. Anthony Programs, and the Crossroads Foundation – but also in a success that parallels the achievements of our “typical” students.
Building the Future
The “future” will happen, whether by intention or by accident. We can help shape it, but we cannot control it. It is built on promises but rooted in performance and preparation. Our students will be prepared when the time comes to assume the mantle of leadership. They will perform well the tasks of citizenship.
Excellence is a commitment that pays a clear dividend. The Catholic schools of the Diocese of Pittsburgh offer that dividend as a gift to our students, our community, and to the future.