Happy Catholic Schools Week 2023!

I always used to think that “a satisfied customer” was an organization’s best advertisement.  In the case of faith-based and private schools, that’s a satisfied parent, because parents talk to parents.

A number of years ago, I was proven wrong. A satisfied parent is your second-best advertisement.

As Catholic Schools Week opened at our parish at that time, a pulpit talk was given by one of our youngsters and her father after communion and meditation. The congregation seemed to expect the presentation would be made by the father, but that changed when the young child started the presentation by saying, “Good morning – I’m in the first grade at Queen of Angels School.”

That’s when the faces of the congregation changed – from an “Isn’t she adorable” smile on their faces, to an “Oh my goodness, she’s reading this!” look of incredulity. The youngster and her father alternated speaking parts, much like professional speakers (or at least seasoned adults). Their timing was impeccable, as the father stated, “So what makes our school special?” and his daughter responded enthusiastically, “Jesus!” Rather than just saying His name, she continued to explain the benefits of a Catholic school education better than many adults I’ve encountered. One could have thought, “She’s just reading the script,” but then members of the assembly realized – she’s A FIRST GRADER!

Many things are said when Catholic schools market themselves, and one of them is children score above the national norms on standardized tests. This little child was proof positive of those claims, as her reading level had to be that of a third or fourth grader.  And not just reading, but with inflection and emphasis – hallmarks of “speakers,” and not just “readers.”  This child was proclaiming the good news!

How do I know this was effective? In the pew in front of me were a grandfather, a grandmother, a young toddler coloring in her Winnie the Pooh book, and her mother. After the presentation, amid applause, the grandmother and mother looked at each other and then glanced at the toddler. They looked back at each other and nodded, as if to say, “We need to visit the school with her.”

After all, Scripture tells us, “A little child will lead them” (Is. 11:6).

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2023 (Original Publication Date: 20080128)