By Glenn Rutherford, Record Editor
On a Saturday morning best appreciated by dedicated ducks, the faculty and educational staff of St. Edward School — led by principal Andrew Bradley — went out amidst the downpour, knocking on neighborhood doors to let the people of their Jeffersontown community know that the Catholic school is a gem in their midst.
And they also offered $1,500 off the school’s regular $6,000 annual tuition for first time students entering the school next fall. (Tuition is reduced if a family has multiple children in the school.)
Despite the gloomy, bone-soaking weather, Bradley said “pretty much the whole staff showed up” for the event.
“Wasn’t too bad,” Bradley said with a chuckle during a telephone interview on the morning of Oct. 21. “Hey, we had umbrellas.”
And they had a message for the people of their neighborhood. That message is that St. Edward School not only has a stable student population of 400 — with two classrooms of students in every grade, pre-school through grade eight — but they also offer their children an education grounded in faith.
“We have a story to tell about our school,” he said on the rainy Saturday. “We just thought we’d try this, shall we say, novel way of getting the message out.”
Bradley and his staff divided their neighborhood — the school is located on Sue Helen Drive — into about eight routes for groups of four to five.
“Each group reached about 35 or 40 homes,” Bradley said.
Unfortunately — perhaps it’s a sign of the times or just an indication that lots of people sleep late on Saturday mornings — there were many, many homes where no one answered the door.
Author Charles Reich once wrote that nothing is so exciting and delightful as the unexpected knock on your door. But apparently a lot of people don’t feel that way anymore.
“I was a bit surprised,” Bradley said. “But those who did open the door and speak with us tended to be kind. They took our information and I think it provided a great opportunity for us to just make them aware, or more aware, of our presence in the community.”
Bradley and the school’s director of recruitment and development, Selena Jones, said the door to door campaign “was an effort to be proactive.”
“Everyone knows that Catholic schools have to work hard to make sure people know of our strengths and benefits,” she said. “When people can go down the street to another school free of charge, we have to make sure they know what value they get for the tuition they pay at a Catholic school.”
At the heart of that benefit, both Bradley and Jones said, is a faith-based education.
“We can talk about our test scores, which are good,” Bradley noted, “and we can talk about our curriculum and the quality of our education and teachers. But at the core of what we do, our main mission is to help our students, these 400 or so children, grow in their faith.
“Christ is the reason for our school.”
And that’s one of the messages Bradley and his staff took to their neighborhood.
“A lot of people just don’t know we’re back here (on Sue Helen Drive),” he said. “In many ways, it might be better if we were on (nearby) Six Mile Lane or some other major roadway. But we’re not, so we do the best we can to let people know we’re here and what we offer.”
In this day and age, when educational dollars are tight, it’s important, both Jones and Bradley said, to “market your school.”
“If you’re not doing that,” Jones said, “you’re falling behind.”
Bradley and his staff don’t know yet how their door-to-door effort — and the $1,500 tuition discount for new students — will be received. But they are convinced that introducing themselves to their neighbors — at least the one’s who’d come to the door — was the right thing to do.
“I think it was great that we took this one day and established our presence in this neighborhood to people who might not have known much about us,” Bradley said.