One of the biggest decisions we will make as mothers is where to send our children to school.
Our kids are our most precious gifts, and we ultimately have the responsibility of deciding where they will spend the majority of their young lives. Our kids see more of their teachers and classmates than they do of their parents, and the environment they are in will shape and mold them into the adult they’ll someday become. As mothers, we all have different values when considering the school we will choose. We have to take into account who their peers might be, what we want/don’t want to expose them to. We think about socialization as well as a quality education that will prepare them for college and the real world. If you’re like me, the school you choose for Pre-K will be the same high school they graduate from, so you better get it right from the beginning. But hey, no pressure.
I grew up in a small town near Baton Rouge.
Everyone in Plaquemine knew each other, and if you were in trouble, there was someone close by who could help. All the kids I grew up with were originally from that town; however, my parents relocated there from other places for a job. Knowing no one, my parents toured the town’s schools and landed on the Catholic school. St. John was the school my brother and I attended from Kindergarten through 12th grade. We started in that town knowing no one and left that town with family.
Since my parents were not from Plaquemine, my grandparents didn’t live there. Now being a mother who leans on my in-laws to help with my kids, I see how hard that must have been for my parents.
We quickly learned that while we didn’t have much family support locally, we were being adopted by our small town, particularly the small Catholic School community my parents had chosen for us. The secretary, Mrs. Cathy, was an actual angel who gave us peppermints when our tummies hurt. She brought me home when I needed a ride. My mom was a new mom who was learning the ins-and-outs of motherhood, and Mrs. Cathy took my mom under her wing and said:
“Here, I’ll help you.”
Everywhere we turned, someone new was lending a hand. I used to think everyone was looking out for us because we were from out of town, but now looking back, I see that they treat everyone like that. It was a beautiful, warm and loving place to grow up. I didn’t see it back then, but as an adult and a mother, I see it now.
I went to school with the same kids from kindergarten through senior year, and while we’ve all moved away and started families of our own, I still consider them family. During senior year, we discussed our plans for college. Everyone had big dreams and it motivated me to have big dreams, too. After all, I’d known my classmates since we were 5, so we inspired and motivated each other to be our best for 12 years. Growing up with those people molded me into who I am today.
When becoming pregnant, I told my husband I had ONE non-negotiable thing.
I wanted to give the gift of Catholic school to my kids.
In addition to the family, we gained at St. John, learning about Christ in everything we did was the true gift. Attending mass with our peers, praying the rosary, and learning about Jesus’ life laid the foundation for my faith. I drifted away from the church after high school, eventually returning, and truly realizing the gift my parents gave me, and the sacrifices they made to give me that gift.
I now live in an area with great public schools, and I am so grateful for that. I kept my options open, but when it was time for my daughter to start Pre-K, I decided to tour Mount Carmel in Abbeville. I instantly knew. Seeing Mrs. Janet at the front desk handing out the peppermints to the kids with tummy aches was the first indication. This place is home.
The faces were warm and kind, and my daughter felt safe.
I was told the parents are active volunteers, involved with so many facets of their kids’ lives. The football games are reminiscent of the football games I grew up going to, and it wasn’t long before I met a mom who took down my number and said: “Hey, I’ll help you.” Not being from here originally, this felt so nice. It made me feel rooted here, and most importantly, it makes my daughter feel secure in her surroundings.
The sense of community combined with the Catholic education made our choice a no-brainer. It would be a life-long sacrifice, and it is a spiritual and financial commitment, but Catholic school would be our choice. I truly hope my girls get the same rewards I got from my Catholic education. I certainly know I’m already receiving the gifts my mother got through the love and warmth from the other mothers and teachers.
For this, I am truly thankful.
This week is Catholic Schools Week, and I would like to thank all Catholic schools for the love and kindness they give to their communities. The teachers, staff, families, and supporters are the backbones of our community and have given me a safe place to raise my kids. I see your shining faces in church on Sunday, and I see you in the carpool lines with huge smiles greeting my daughter on Monday. I see you volunteering in the community, and I see you running auctions and golf tournaments for fundraising. Your dedication to Catholic education is seen and recognized. And I thank every one of you for helping create the Catholic education that molded me into the adult that I am and will mold my girls into who God created them to be.