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Teaching in Catholic Schools


Date: Mon Jul 08 2002 - 14:33:14 PDT

I taught in the Catholic school system for 4 years and am a Catholic myself.
Our diocese had a course of study for the visual arts which was really quite
good. There were a few lessons which tied into the faith (like symbolism in
the architecture of the church and the priests' vestments), but the
curriculum followed national arts' standards. I happened to be in a wealthy
parish and had any and all materials and supplies I wanted. I had my own art
room, which had just been remodeled the year before I was hired. It was
beautiful, on the second floor of a separate building ( the old convent),
with lots of windows for natural light, primary colored floor tiles and
tables and chairs. The downside? Pay was about half of what I currently make
in a public school setting. Although there were little or no incidents of
what I would call serious physical misbehavior, I found the discipline issues
to be much more sophisticated. These were kids who had it all, had seen it
all, been to all of it. There was no reward good enough for them (I don't
like that kind of candy, sticker, pencil, etc.) and art was their "free"
time. Mom and Dad did not accept that their darlings could ever say or do
some of the things that these kids pulled. Their behavior was so unacceptable
and their parents such arrogant,uncooperative know-it-alls, I left. Any grade
less than an "A" was met with furor. I was reamed out verbally, in the hall,
in front of students, peers and parents on 3 separate occasions by parents
who were furious about "B's" and "C's". God forbid that "C" keep them from
Harvard. It was irrelevant as to why that student received that grade.
Support from administration? Not when Mommy and Daddy's Sunday donation keeps
the church and school running. Sorry if I sound bitter, but the experience
lingers. If anything it made me stronger. I hope not every situation is like
the one I had. I only know that since leaving and teaching in an inner city
school, I've made my own kids' college tuition payments more easily and my
blood pressure has dropped almost 20 points. (Probably also because I'm on a
cart and do steps all day!) The kids I teach now have nothing and they
appreciate things that are given them. I feel like where I'm teaching now is
much more of a mission than it ever was in the parochial school. Just be
aware of some of these "political" issues that are there in private schools
and keep yourself from going crazy. Sorry for the ranting. I feel better now!