Back to School — A Message from the Superintendent

Mary Beth Bowling

The 2022-2023 school year is now underway for most of our schools and families. To say we are excited about welcoming your children back to our schools is an understatement!

“New beginnings” at the start of the school year bring a sense of excitement for administrators, teachers, students and parents. This year is no different as we anticipate all that the school year may offer our students as they grow and learn in their academics and faith.

We know the past two-plus school years have been fraught with interruptions. Be assured that we are prepared to meet our students where they are to ensure they grow and learn.

A few weeks ago, we held an orientation for new teachers in the Archdiocese of Louisville. I spoke to our new teachers at the orientation, challenged them to consider how a classroom in a Catholic school is different from that of a classroom in another school and shared with them the theme for the upcoming school year.

Our theme for the 22-23 school year, “Open the Door to Jesus: Be Intentional in Walking with Him and Sharing the Gospel Message” points to the foundational content for our work as Catholic school educators. As I shared with new teachers, it is the teachings of the Gospel that should ground us in our daily work as educators.

If we are the “hands and feet, voice and smile of Jesus,” we must know Jesus and His teachings. More importantly, we are charged with passing on the teachings of the faith to our students.

The qualities that make up an excellent Catholic school are defined by the National Catholic Standards and Benchmarks for Elementary and Secondary Schools. There are four domains that are given special emphasis. These four domains with supporting standards include: Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Academic Excellence and Operational Vitality. Interrupted learning has impacted students’ progression toward their learning goals. I believe that this same “interruption” also has impacted our family connections to our faith communities, our parishes and churches.
So how are we to respond as Catholic communities in order to be the best that we can be?

We are partners with parents in the mission of passing on the faith to our young people. Catholic educators cannot do this in isolation. We need our families and their children committed, not only to attending a Catholic school but also to investing in the parish community. Otherwise, we become a private school upon which academic excellence is the only goal. My invitation, then, to you — parents, grandparents, teachers and administrators — is to renew your commitment to Catholic schools by recommitting and reconnecting to your parish and school communities.

Parents and grandparents, will you more intentionally model for your children the values and practices that are foundational for our Catholic communities?

Teachers, will you commit to your ministry in Catholic education by making sure your classrooms are identifiably Catholic?
Administrators, will you ensure that you are leading your school communities in the ways of faith each and every day?

Our administrators and teachers are poised to return to the classroom the only way they know how — with love in their hearts for your children and a commitment to each student they serve.

Let us make sure that the message we send to our students, your children, is abundantly clear — we are communities of faith first, preparing our children for success in life with a value system rooted in the Catholic faith.

May God bless our students this school year!

Mary Beth Bowling is Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

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