This is the first in an occasional series of posts highlighting elements of school life. After break, I will send you an Easter letter that summarizes recent events at Sacred Heart and looks forward to others. I am praying for you for a restful and safe break and I thank you for your trust and support!
Sacred Heart’s commitment to teaching our students the Catholic faith includes helping children grow in virtue as we nurture tomorrow’s Christian leaders.
The virtues, part of the Church’s teaching for centuries, are habits of the heart, ways in which we can live our faith every day. As a school, we have embraced a virtue each month, including, so far: charity, self-control, gratitude, honesty, diligence, courage and, in March, faith.
How do we instruct our students in the virtues at Sacred Heart? First, our teachers serve as mature, Christian role models who integrate the Catholic faith into the curriculum. This integration is a particular point of emphasis for us right now. Students are also taught through the Mass, religion class, sacramental preparation, our mentorship and house systems, guidance classes and through recognition on merit certificates. We communicate closely with you on student conduct and our pastor and chaplain, Fr. David Boettner and Fr. Joe Reed, respectively, lead the way in spiritual instruction.
When Christ was asked what the greatest commandment was, he answered: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-39) Love of neighbor, charity, is a core theological virtue and a big point of emphasis for us throughout the school.
In contrast to charity stands bullying. Society has rightly paid more attention to bullying in recent years, and, while we hope and expect our children to exhibit charity, we look carefully for signs of bullying, too. Guidance lessons on bullying are taught in October throughout the school, and homerooms (in elementary) and mentorship groups (in Middle School) are discussing the issue with students this week. (Ask your children if they know what an “upstander” is.) I believe that the caring relationship between our teachers and their students is an important tool against any form of bullying, as well. When we met with some of our alumni at Knoxville Catholic this fall, they told us universally that they had numerous adults throughout Sacred Heart to whom they could go with any concern.
Last week, our counselor, Krystyn Maxa, led our staff through a training on bullying to help us stay current and aware. We also implemented this year an internal, electronic method for staff to communicate behavior that could indicate a concerning pattern. While we have a positive approach that emphasizes growth in virtue, we are also vigilant in ensuring our students’ safety at school. You trust us to do so, and we take that trust to heart.