St. James Catholic School seeks to embody these five principles:
Inspired by a Supernatural Vision
The specific purpose of a Catholic education is the formation of children who will be good citizens of this world, loving God and neighbor and enriching society with the leaven of the gospel, and who will also be citizens of the world to come, thus fulfilling their destiny to become saints. An emphasis on the inalienable dignity of the human person – above all on his or her spiritual dimension – is especially necessary.
A Catholic school must be founded on Jesus Christ, the Redeemer. It is he, who through his Incarnation, is united with each student. Christ is the center of the entire school, the light enlightening every person who comes into a Catholic school. The gospel of Jesus Christ inspires and guides the Catholic school in every dimension of its life and activity – its philosophy of education, its curriculum, its community life, its selection of teaches, and even its physical environment.
The Holy See describes the school as a community in four areas. The first area is teamwork among all those involved. Those responsible for the school need to promote the same spirit of trust and warmth found in family life. The second area is the cooperation between educators and bishops. The third component is the interaction of students with teachers. Special attention is paid to the quality of interpersonal relationships between teachers and students to ensure that the student is seen as a person whose intellectual growth is harmonized with spiritual, religious, emotional, and social growth. The fourth area of community is the school’s physical environment. Since the school is considered an extension of the home, it should contain some of the amenities that promote a family atmosphere. Additionally, a Catholic school should have external signs of Catholic tradition including images, symbols, icons, crucifixes in every classroom, liturgical celebrations, and other sacramental reminders of Catholic life.
Catholic education is directed towards the growth of the whole person. The curriculum aims to develop the intellect, the physical capacity, as well as the psychological, moral and religious capacities of every student. In the pursuit of educating the whole person, Catholic schooling is constantly inspired and guided by the gospel. Catholic teachers are to cultivate in themselves and develop in others a passion for truth that defeats moral and cultural relativism. They are to educate “in the truth.”
The Holy See’s documents on Catholic education pay a great deal of attention to the vocation of teachers and their participation in the Church’s evangelizing mission. Teachers in Catholic schools are called to imitate Christ and live the Christian message through their words and actions. These educators are expected to be models for their students by bearing transparent witness to Christ and to the beauty of the gospel.
(From “The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools” by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, Secretary, Congregation for Catholic Education. ©2006 Solidarity Association)