For Dr. Jim King, associate superintendent for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Youngstown, Catholic education needs some updating. While King has plenty of responsibilities, his biggest goal for the immediate future is reinvigorating the mission of Catholic schools.
“Catholic schools are very specifically challenged—academically and spiritually—to distinguish themselves,” King said. “If we do the same thing that the place down the road is doing for free, it’s awfully hard to compel people to pay for what you’re doing … as far as faith formation and catechetical knowledge, how we’re developing the kids has to be very specific and unique and intentional.”
Although the schools will teach the entire catechism, King feels that focusing on a Catholic charism will make the teachings feel more grounded for the students. “We have a thousand different religious orders, each with unique charisms—a unique thing they’re going to focus on in the Catholic faith,” he said. “We want the schools to focus on a few overt elements of the Catholic faith to really strongly nurture within the entire community—students, faculty, parents, all the stakeholders.”
In many cases, King said, it would be a matter of “dusting off” the original charisms on which the schools were founded, while others may want to choose a charism based on the life of the school’s patron saint, or one that reflects the school’s current community.
King also encourages an “integrated curriculum,” where spiritual formation is not relegated to a single class during the day but is instead infused in every subject. King said that the McGrath Institute for Church Life, a religious institution from the University of Notre Dame, is especially influential in bringing awareness to this integrated curriculum and for sharing education resources—such as lesson plans—which emphasize Catholicism in all subjects.
“That’s our ultimate goal, to have very integrated curriculum where you’re not just talking about Catholicism during these 45 minutes of the day,” he said. “It’s in everything. That’s the goal.”
Luckily for all Catholic families, the recently passed Ohio House Bill 33 has expanded the scope of the EdChoice Scholarship program for all K-12 students. For more information on these scholarships, visit www.doy.org/edchoice/.