Top Reasons to Choose a Private Kindergarten in Baltimore
At the start of the 2020-2021 school year, Education Week, an independent news organization that covers K–12 schools, ranked Maryland 4th in national school rankings. It is no secret that Maryland offers some of the best schools in the nation. The combination of high-achieving K-12 academics, equity, school funding, and great teachers are just some of the factors that keep Maryland at the top of the national ranking list. Maryland public schools offer a wide range of services for students of various socio-economic backgrounds while maintaining academic rigor.
However, for many families, a public school may not be a viable option, whether due to the individual needs of a child, geographical reasons, or preference for a faith-based school, many families choose to send their kindergarten students to a private Catholic school. Below I share some common factors among families who attend The School of the Cathedral, where I have been privileged to lead as Principal for the past six years.
Faith in Action
Private Catholic schools are faith-based schools whose educational purpose is not only the transmission of knowledge; but also, the formation of the whole person in terms of body, mind and spirit. Children are taught about growing in faith, love and ministry-- to show their love of God through service to others. Students are encouraged to share their talents and resources with others who are in need. For example, school food drive collections, cards for veterans and the elderly, and making casseroles for our local food pantry are where our youngest students begin to see the labor of their work for the good of others. Through teacher guidance, students engage in service projects as a learning experience and a witness to their Christian faith in action. And so, a faith based learning environment, espouses the teachings of Christ that are central to the mission and vision of the Catholic Kindergarten educational experience.
Private schools in Baltimore are in the wonderful position to align with the State-mandated curriculum while retaining independence in instruction. Contrary to public schools, which have to complete regular state testing multiple times a year, private schools have the ability to focus on the whole child. This child-centered focus means students are more than a test score, and each individual's gifts and talents are acknowledged and celebrated! Archdiocesan Catholic schools still require annual testing, but the testing is not the focus of the academic year. Data is used to inform instruction throughout the year. It is not used as a measure of teacher effectiveness or student intelligence. The focus on a growth mindset, resilience, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity frame the educational environment of every school within the Archdiocese.
Signature Kindergarten Programs
Preparing students early for 21st century thinking and investing our time and resources to address higher order thinking skills is of the utmost importance. These critical thinking skills begin in Kindergarten and are essential to living in today’s multimedia world. Using innovative technology to ensure our students are able to compete in today’s global economy is of paramount importance. Research shows that this learning must begin in the early years, as teachers immerse their learners in what Michael Fullan calls “deep learning.” He refers to this as the 6 C’s: Character, Citizenship, Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking. Each of these pillars is sought in a private Kindergarten program as we prepare our students for the future by not only challenging them to be creative problem solvers, but to work collectively and collaboratively providing the vehicle to learn and lead for tomorrow’s world. Child-centered learning is celebrated every day in a private Kindergarten program.
Because class sizes are often smaller than public schools, peer relationships are fostered, and lifetime friendships are formed. Faculty and staff in private schools make an intentional choice to teach in a private school, earning less money than public schools, because we feel we make a real impact on students' lives. Strong bonds are also formed between families who attend and those who work in private schools.
I have seen this evidenced in the transition to online learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting quarantine. While public school districts struggled to make the transition to online learning, the community of learners within private schools were able to transition to online learning over a weekend after Governor Hogan made the announcement that schools would close. The collaboration between school administrators, teachers, students, and families allowed private schools to leverage Google's G-Suite, Zoom, and other resources to continue with instruction as normally as possible. Online classes, the continuation of assignments, assessments, and addressing the social and emotional needs of the students began on Monday, the first day of school closures.
This community is also clear when speaking to The School of the Cathedral alumni. Students share about their lifelong friends they have had since kindergarten, affectionately termed "lifers" at The School of the Cathedral. Read more about the community our alumni continue to foster in high school, college, and beyond.
Similarly to faculty and staff who sacrifice compensation to work in Catholic schools, families who attend a private school make a sacrifice to pay tuition. Recognizing this, private Catholic schools work towards making school affordable through financial aid to help low-income and middle-class families. Additionally, the BOOST program (Broadening Options and Opportunities for Students Today) makes Catholic schools accessible for many families by awarding scholarships based on household income, with the lowest-income families served first. Many families receive scholarships, grants, and aid year after year, making a private school education affordable from the first day of kindergarten until graduation. Private Catholic schools also work with families who are experiencing economic hardships to develop tuition payment plans that honor and respect the dignity of the family. Now, more than ever, this is simply the right thing to do.
The School of the Cathedral's Kindergarten
I truly believe there is a school for every child and a child for every school. If you find the public school system does not seem to be working for your family, do yourself a favor and take a look at some of the great private schools Baltimore has to offer. I am sure you will be pleasantly surprised!
-Michael Wright, Principal, The School of the Cathedral
We invite you to learn more about The School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, a private Catholic K-8 co-ed parish school in Baltimore, Maryland. Explore our kindergarten curriculum, and join us for our next Open House:
Adapted from its original publication in April 2020