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Showcasing the positive impact of Catholic education

| Thursday, March 9, 2017

President Donald Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Sen. Marco Rubio and Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited St. Andrew Catholic School in the Diocese of Orlando on Friday, seeing firsthand the role that Catholic education can play in building strong communities.

St. Andrew is one of 14 Notre Dame ACE Academies, which are unique partnerships between the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and dioceses that are dedicated to providing a Catholic education of the highest quality to as many children as possible in under-served communities. The President visited two classrooms, observing posters that shared Notre Dame ACE Academies’ core values — seek, persist, excel, love and serve — printed in three languages: English, Spanish and Creole, the native language of many St. Andrew families.

We are acutely aware that the current political climate is among the most polarized in American history. These divisions have real implications for our relationships in the St. Andrew community. We’ve also been having conversations with teachers and leaders about these dynamics and about our role as ministers of the Gospel who are called to put our light on a lamp stand, so that all the world might see it shine from St. Andrew.

In the classrooms and in the following roundtable discussion, the President met the children that Catholic schools have historically served — sometimes on the margins, frequently immigrants and always with respect and dignity. He heard several testimonials from the children of immigrants or immigrants themselves, each sharing a journey toward opportunity and the critical role education plays in that journey. One student told the President about his desire to validate his mother, a Haitian immigrant who tried to attain the American dream by giving her son a better life. A teacher from St. Andrew told the President that being the child of Haitian immigrants helped her relate to and serve the families at the school.

We believe that every family has the right to choose the best school for their child. Families who choose to send their children to St. Andrew do so because they share our goals of college and heaven. They believe that we are constant learners who can always improve, that God is at the center of all relationships, that teamwork leads us to our goals and that we serve God by serving others. Because of the parental choice program in Florida, this school will continue to empower families, form faithful citizens, build up the Pine Hills community and provide children with educational opportunities. 

The St. Andrew community also is inspired by their patron, St. Andrew, who was first called by Christ to come and see” with his brother Peter. The people of St. Andrew see themselves as a “come and see” community, and in this presidential visit, they had an opportunity to invite the world to come and see the extraordinary things that are possible when children are on the path to college and heaven. We are proud to partner with them and will do whatever it takes to help them shine their light for all to see. 

Theo Helm
director of communications
Alliance for Catholic Education/Institute for Educational Initiatives
March 8

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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