Each day at 7:00 a.m., Lourdes Academy Principal Steve Dole greets students as they get out of the car to start the school day. Each afternoon, he is in the same place, placing children in cars as they head home at the end of the school day. Engaging daily with students at drop-off, dismissal, at lunch, and in the classrooms is the best part of his job.
"Years from now, I want them to look back and realize they had a relationship with their principal and that I cared about their success, despite how challenging things may have been at any given point," said Dole. "I want them to know that when I spoke about their success at their graduation, I didn't just witness their success, I helped play a part in it. That's the best part!"
Catholic School Difference
One of the biggest draws for families to Catholic schools vs. public schools is smaller class sizes. While that might be one of the initial reasons parents give for exploring Catholic schools as an option for their children, there are multiple benefits. Smaller schools and smaller classes allow students to grow in relationships with one another. Teachers and staff can quickly identify areas of need for students – whether it's enrichment or intervention. Plus, teachers are able to understand the needs of each child and their families before they have them in class in the upcoming year.
"I don't think parents realize how important a smaller school environment is in their child's overall success," explains Dole. "Something as simple as one of our teachers or staff members opening the car door in the morning and saying, 'Good morning, Isabella,' has a huge impact when someone is called by name. When we ask things like 'How was your weekend?' It is not just small talk, we really want to know about what they did! This type of environment exists because we know our students well and because our faculty and staff love teaching in a Catholic school."
Many families don't investigate Catholic schools as an option because of the cost. It's common for families to expect that Catholic education is out of touch with their family budget. Or it's often the case they think they make too much money to get financial support for their children to attend a private school. Changing the myth that Catholic school is not affordable is something that Principal Dole works on constantly.
"Scholarship requirements have changed dramatically over the past few years," shares Dole. "For example, a family of four can make nearly $100,000/year and qualify to have the bulk of their tuition paid for. For families that are over this amount but still in need of financial aid, we have the ability to assist. We will work with any family to find financial support no matter their household income or budget."
Catholic School is for Catholics and Non-Catholics alike
Another common misconception about Catholic school is that you must be Catholic to attend, or the school is only a good fit for those who attend church every Sunday. There is a diverse mix of students at Lourdes Academy – those who are Catholic and attend Mass regularly, those who are Catholic and attend Mass on Christmas and Easter, and those who are of another faith tradition and worship at a different church or not at all.
The Catholic faith is taught at Our Lady of Lourdes – each day begins in prayer, students attend Mass each week, and religious education is part of the curriculum. The main goal is to have students become better people each year as they grow.
"By the time a student graduates from Lourdes Academy, we hope they have found value in living a life of service to others in our school, community, nation, and our world," says Dole. "We provide these opportunities to students regardless of their faith and how often they might practice it. For any student, regardless of faith and background, if you are motivated to do well academically, if you are looking to be challenged and open to learning how to become a leader, there is a place for you at our school."
Want to learn more about Lourdes Academy? There is an Open House on Friday, April 8, from 9 a.m. – to 2 p.m. You will have the chance to tour the school, meet teachers and Principal Dole. It is also the day of the school’s annual Falcon Fun Run – a great event for students and an opportunity to see how the school infuses fun with learning! If you would like to make an appointment for a private tour of the school, please contact the school office at 386-252-0391 or email Enrollment Specialist Mirth DeWitt at firstname.lastname@example.org.