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A Place Where Faith and Learning Meet

September 14, 2015 | posted by Marlin Marcum, Principal, Notre Dame Catholic School - Kerrville

Topics: Catholic Schools

A Place Where Faith and Learning Meet

For 103 years, Notre Dame School has provided a Catholic education for children in the Texas Hill Country. 103 years! Throughout its history, the school has been led and staffed by individuals who were committed to providing the kind of education that would have students prepared for the next level of instruction, and give them the best opportunity to be successful at that higher level. 

Notre Dame Educators have also sought to instill God's word and the values of the Catholic Church into the hearts of each generation that enters their classrooms. This fact should encourage all Christian parents to consider Notre Dame for their child’s intellectual and spiritual development. Currently staffed with a principal, 3 office personnel, 18 teachers, and 1 teaching assistant, the convergence of faith and learning continues at Notre Dame. One hundred and thirty students now seek a Catholic school education in classrooms sheltered by large cedar elm trees, in the shadow of a sanctuary where love for God is taught. Worship, Giving Thanks, and Pursuing Wisdom and Knowledge happens every day. 

Like most Catholic schools, funding continues to be a critical goal for economic soundness. Notre Dame is the smallest PK – 8 school in the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and those familiar with Catholic Schools know tuition alone will not pay all the bills. Fundraising events like the annual Fall Festival, organized and directed by Jeff and Lezlie Sirianni, and the annual Casino Night, organized and directed last year by Hunter Morris and Staci Michalak, support budget requirements unmet by tuition payments. A new organizer, Karen Ricketts, has taken the helm for Casino Night in 2016. The Notre Dame Booster Club and PTC add support as well. These dedicated parents help Notre Dame meet its financial obligations. Without their generous spirits and enthusiastic and tireless efforts, these financial needs would not be met. Surely God sees their labors and will bless them for their devotion. 

Also, a major contributor of support is Hope for the Future, which is a scholarship fund centralized in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Without Hope for the Future, the efforts of parents, and Notre Dame's extended circle of patrons, the school would fall far short of what it takes to operate. In the last 4 years, I have watched Hope For The Future and the Parish step up and make the necessary sacrifices to insure the perpetuation of the school’s long history. Monsignor Mike Boulette is the driving force and chief cheerleader for the school and its mission. He regularly touts the school, Catholic school education, and monitors its operations to insure efficacy. He calls for additional funds when needed, and the positive response acknowledges his leadership for Catholic education and reflects his credibility with the Parish. Parish members know he will insure that the traditions of Notre Dame Catholic School will continue, and they trust that he will appropriately use these prayerfully provided resources. 

To that end, a dedicated staff has utilized gifts as follows: 

1) In 2011, over $49,000 was donated for interactive whiteboards and new textbooks in several core areas.

2) In 2012, smart boards were added in all remaining core classrooms, and new reading and language textbooks were added. These improvements utilized $40,000 in gifts and grants. That same year, Notre Dame received a grant to upgrade lighting in the classrooms, which cost $29,347. Also, an unrestricted grant of over $13,000 was given to cover other operational costs.

3) In May of 2015, grants and alternative funding in the amount of $66,235 was secured and is being used to upgrade internet infrastructure, including fiber and servers. Additional upgrades have also been made to the math curriculum.

4) In preparation for the implementation of a new Iowa Assessment Test, another unrestricted funding grant was obtained to purchase supplementary curriculum materials to prepare for the more rigorous test. Online curriculum materials were purchased in April of 2015 to continue to strengthen instructional resources for the staff. Funding from a foundation provided additional needed textbooks due to enrollment increases. A local business affiliated with Exxon provided $3,250 for the acquisition of instructional resources for math and science.

5) In the summer of 2015, another $25,000 grant provided for another textbook adoption, and Notre Dame began the process of upgrading to online textbooks. Also, in June, a gift of $10,000 was given to provide the remaining infrastructure to operate online textbooks in science and social studies.

6) During the period from 2011 and 2015, the PTC and Booster Club also donated more than $8,000 for additional whiteboards for elective and religion classrooms. Boosters also purchased all the supplies for athletic programs, including funding for an assistant coach. Athletic Boosters support more than athletics. They support the whole school. PTC also funded numerous projects to support students and classroom teachers. Academic indicators show students are benefiting from the tools and how the staff apply them. And the school and Parish are debt free. 

If you add up all that giving, the figure is around $300,000. These gifts have given Notre Dame the tools to continue its tradition of imparting faith and learning more effectively. The Parish of Notre Dame lovingly supports its school, and an exceptional staff continues to prepare children to be life-time learners. They now have 21st Century tools to achieve their goals. 

Children are coming to school already skilled in technology and if these skills are tapped into, teachers can create a more effective interest in instruction. Without the support and prayerful contributions of a Parish committed to the mission of Notre Dame School, this technical skill set would go underutilized and undeveloped. I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of this effort. Thank God for the commitment and support of the Notre Dame Parish, parents, and Staff. Thank God that Notre Dame School is an effective place of faith and learning.