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My Children, My Decision

March 25, 2019

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The following is a letter from a teacher and parent in the Regina Catholic School Division.

Dear Director of Education Domenic Scuglia,

The choice to move my children to the Catholic division was a conscious one, however, after comparing my own professional experience of both public and Catholic schools it was an obvious choice. In my career as a teacher, inspired by Reggio Emilia, I recognize the importance of community and the need to address the physical, social/emotional, intellectual and spiritual aspects of the child. During my time working in public schools, non-profit organizations and being self-employed, I did not feel the ability to embrace the values in the same manner as I have been able to within the Regina Catholic School Division. My children now attend a Catholic school where the whole child is being nurtured and therefore, my children's love of learning and their natural state of wonder has returned. They are beginning to see the value they have in being who they are and can offer their gifts to help serve their friends, their school and larger community.

While entering as an employee, I was immediately welcomed. I felt as if my strengths were valued and that I was able to admit my areas of growth without judgement. Supports were available to help me prepare and grow as a Catholic teacher so that I may share those same values with my students. I am accepted and valued within my Catholic school family, a sense of belonging that I had yet to experience as a professional. When I observed how the staff approached the students and the community members, I realized that the Christian values that I was raised with are at the centre of all the teachings and weaved throughout the day in all interactions and expectations.

Values such as love, peace, gratitude, hospitality, forgiveness and compassion are basic values for humankind but we tend to have difficulties seeing this represented in our media and often schools and workplaces. The difference is that Regina Catholic Schools is a division that believes so deeply that these virtues should lead actions and decisions in relationships and conflict. When approaching people and situations from a consciousness that is not ego centred, rather it is coming from a place of love. This does not mean that hard conversations are avoided and conflicts not resolved, instead, it is the opposite. The Bible teaches these values throughout the liturgical calendar and are at the core of the whole school day. I quickly realized that I found a place of employment that aligned with my personal and professional goals. I was able to collaborate with like-minded people in the school and support the families that I so loved working with. I have been able to challenge myself, offer my strengths and grow in the areas I most valued as an early childhood teacher; intellectually, physically, socially/emotionally and most of all spiritually.

As a parent, I know the importance of addressing the whole child. If one area is neglected the other areas are quickly affected. This became more evident in my children's lives as the social/emotional piece was not being addressed and began to impact their sense of self and belonging in the community (spiritual development). I knew that if I found the environment I so wanted for myself in the Catholic division then my children definitely deserved the same environment in which they could grow in all areas of development. My children's experiences in the Catholic Schools have offered them physically and emotionally safe environments, learning that has challenged them academically by caring adults and has actively engaged them in their school and larger community. My children now see themselves playing an integral role in the community and Catholic schools have strengthened the values that we placed in the home at an early age. I truly value the work the adults do in my children's school to help guide them to be responsible, accountable and faithful individuals and encourage them to grow their Christ-like behaviour.

In this changing and evolving world, our young people are dealing with challenges that we could have never imagined when we were younger. It is necessary the students be guided and encouraged to treat others respectfully online and Catholic Schools gives the platform to discuss digital citizenship. Our children are managing connections to the digital world through social media and ever-changing information presented to them. The digital connections my children are involved in gives them the opportunity to learn and practice modelling their Christ-like behaviour online and in turn, gives me the confidence as a parent that my children are being guided to be kind and honest while working online. Catholic values are woven through all areas related to the school day and not just apparent in a Religion class.

My children are now happy and eager to go to school, their teachers have high expectations for them academically as well as socially. The spiritual development is a difficult one to address in public schools because of the limitations in speaking about humans as spiritual beings. In our Catholic schools we teach the Bible's stories, how we belong in the world and share the gifts or talents we possess. Our unique abilities are honoured and mistakes, forgiven. The difference in my family's life  is obvious due to the support the Catholic community has offered us. I am humbled by the love and compassion that I have experienced from the people within the Regina Catholic School Division and wish that every family could experience the same sense of belonging.  We expect our tax dollars to continue to go toward education, and toward maintaining options for families like ours. No one should tell me I can't choose where my children are educated. My children, my decision. Please don't let anyone take that away.

Sincerely,

Jada Fiissel