“Repeat after me: ‘nunc coepi’”
“Now, I begin.”
“NOW I BEGIN!”
“You can always, always begin again. We will always help you figure out how to begin again. God wants you to begin again when something goes wrong (and so do your teachers!)”
My office is located in our St. Placid building, which is home to our early learning program. One of my duties is to serve and coordinate support for our early learning faculty members. Even with these, our youngest students, Faith and the traditions and teachings of the Catholic Church illuminate every part of our day. We see time and again how naturally and authentically our youngest students gravitate towards and are interested in their loving Father in Heaven and how the ability to explore their relationship with God is profoundly important, not only to their spiritual development, but to their well-being and academic learning as well. This is because Faith sits at the intersection of our program’s goodness and its effectiveness.
Take my conversation I shared earlier with a student who was experiencing difficulty making the right choices (a common occurrence for many of our youngest learners!) We took time together to do a few re-grouping exercises apart from the class and had a wonderful conversation about asking God for help when we need to begin again.
In this one brief moment I spent with this student, given the freedom we have to weave our faith into our care for even our youngest students, we talked about:
- The language of Latin and speaking other languages. (This child speaks two languages in their home and lit up discussing the many languages we might use to communicate.)
What it is to make a mistake, “regroup” (or doing what is necessary to get ourselves into a good state) so that we can start fresh.
- Prayer and that we can always pray, and that it is always good to pray.
- The concept of contrition. (This student shared that they felt sorry so we practiced how we might express our sorry feelings to other people and why that might be wise.)
Our primary identity as an institution is our Catholicism because that is what is right and good. However, in addition the happy by-product of this primary identity – I’m thrilled to state with confidence – is an incredibly effective educational program, which delivers on its intention to consistently enrich the minds and build up the intellects of our diverse array of students. My discussion with our early learning student was as rich and complete as it was because I was free to speak to this child about their full personhood and about God Himself, a fact which guided us into discussion of other valuable intellectual concepts (all translated to developmentally appropriate language, of course.)
This past week, we hosted a reception for the parents of students on the other end of our learning spectrum, the parents of the first rising Grade 7 class. At this event, our Director of Curriculum Development, Karen Celano, detailed our plans for our forthcoming middle school curriculum, which will continue to include the study of Latin and be infused in every sense with the Truth, beauty and goodness of our Catholic Faith. She highlighted the way that learning Latin not only allows us the unique privilege of fully engaging in our Catholic Faith tradition, but also improves our students’ ability to comprehend and apply grammar in the English language – not to mention, have greater facility in learning to understand, write and speak in other romance languages and even modern languages as well. She noted that our students’ continued study of Latin will improve their overall vocabulary comprehension, allowing them the ability to more readily glean meanings of words unknown to them, which have Latin roots (an article in the Journal of Educational Research posits that between 60% and 80% of all English words are derived from Latin.) This skill improves reading comprehension and writing fluency as well. As we listened to her presentation that evening, I was once again struck by the sentiment that our Catholic identity drives our teaching excellence and produces great outcomes for our students.
This weekend we will host our annual fall Open House. This event is the ideal opportunity for families to begin their exploration of joyfully Catholic school which provides an exceptional academic experience to our students in pre-k through middle school. We hope you will join us and have your own encounter with the people, spaces and program that bring this exceptional education to life.
If I should fall, even were it a thousand times, I will not lose courage, I will not be troubled, but always I will say immediately with peace, nunc coepi (now I begin.)
Venerable Bruno Lanteri
AUTHOR: Hadley Keefe, Assistant Head of School & Director of Enrollment