This post is part of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers #catholicteachers sponsored program. I received compensation as a thank you for my participation. This post reflects my personal opinion about the information provided by the sponsors.
A few weeks before my daughter was scheduled to start grade nine I started to worry. It’s pretty common to have concerns about a child’s education. But when your child has anxiety disorder and an IEP (individual education plan) with a learning disability, or any other type of unique needs, you worry even more.
My Concerns as a Parent
What if they weren’t able to meet her needs? What if she fell through the cracks? High school is where your child gains independence and direction. Where they hopefully are inspired to pursue something they are passionate about for life.
When Friends Come Through
Around the same time, I voiced concerns to a close friend of mine, Margarita. Her children had all attended Catholic schools in London. She always had great things to say about Catholic teachers. On that particular day I listened. What would it hurt to take a look, even if it was late?
A couple of weeks before Margarita’s oldest daughter was scheduled to start University in Ottawa, she met us in the parking lot of the school she had graduated from months earlier. We had called ahead to ask if we could visit the school.
“Absolutely,” said the guidance department.
“But there might not be any teachers in the school yet.”
We took a tour through the school with Lauren and Margarita.
Touring the School
At the end of the tour, we stopped in the office. Staff were already working to get the school ready. Someone there began a conversation with my daughter and offered us a closet full of uniforms that had been donated by parents of recent graduates. “If you do decide to attend then you will at least have the uniform to get started,” said the secretary. “If you decide to go somewhere else just return the uniforms when you are able.”
That day we left feeling good about the visit. We felt welcome immediately. My daughter easily came to the same conclusion I did. She wanted to go to Catholic high school, so we registered to start that September.
I Will Always Remember This Feeling
Despite being latecomers, we were greeted immediately with politeness and understanding. A guidance counsellor called us to the school that next week. Together, Payton and I helped choose the courses she needed. The counsellor was patient, calm, and supportive. Over the coming weeks, as I explained her IEP, her strengths and areas of need to the Catholic teachers, support personnel and administration, I felt heard.
My daughter, who was originally a bit nervous about leaving her grade school friends to go to a Catholic high school rapidly adjusted and felt supported immediately. From the staff in the office to the Catholic teachers who are in the classroom teaching academics, with fairness, compassion and respect, the environment at my daughter’s high school was quite simply kind and caring.
Every time I walk in to the school or call a teacher I am treated with respect as a partner in education. The school environment is nurturing. The Catholic teachers I have met or spoken to on the phone have always gone above and beyond to support my daughter and help her. No school is perfect. But when there’s an issue it is dealt with quickly and my daughter is supported through any learning, or life, challenges.
For the first time ever, Payton took religion as part of the curriculum. She joined a few groups such as chaplaincy team and thoroughly enjoyed her classes. The Catholic teachers delivered lessons for life, incorporating discussions about the environment and social justice into the daily classroom discussion and assignments. My daughter loved that. She lit up when talking about the latest community project for chaplaincy team. Her grades reflected a genuine love of learning again, but she still had some issues in math.
In grade nine my daughter was falling behind in academic math. Her mark had dropped to a 58. This is the area where her learning disability comes into play. Math is compulsory in high school, so there’s no escaping it even if you hate it or if you struggle with it. Together we communicated to make sure that Payton learned to ask for help, and understood the concepts being taught. Payton went in early and stayed late to get some extra support, which meant her teacher was doing the same. By the end of the semester her grade in math was 78!!
When my daughter was younger, she had frequent panic attacks at school. I would often have to calm her down by phone during the day. Occasionally, I would need to pick her up from school. She rarely has them any more and hasn’t had any at all in the last two years. The Catholic teachers she has had work fluidly with the support team. Should my daughter need to leave the class to write a test in the resource room she is allowed and encouraged to do that. If she needs more time she gets more time. Such a relief to me as her mother. Now in grade 11, her needs are not only met, but she is flourishing.
The Catholic teachers and administrators have made a dramatic impact on all of us. They are caring, kind, efficient and professional. They have high standards, and smaller classes and mental health programs that are brilliant.
For instance the Catholic high school my daughter attends happily allows her to visit a mental health therapy dog in school weekly. That increases when it is exam time. I am not saying that her high school is flawless, but it has been such a beautiful fit for my older daughter. They know her name and treat her as a valuable part of the school. In fact, I can’t believe the difference for our entire family. I don’t have to fight to get her what she needs. The Catholic teachers here are true partners. That is invaluable.
Catholic Teachers Promote Values That Build Caring Citizens
Catholic teachers promote values that help students become engaged and contributing citizens. Graduates of Catholic schools participate in elections, donate to charities and volunteer in their communities at high rates. As for fairness, all the Catholic teachers I have met so far have demonstrated fairness and compassion daily. It is just simply second nature to many of Payton’s teachers.
Visit http://www.catholicteachers.ca/LessonsForLife for more information.