There’s a difference between Catholic parish schools and private schools, Principal Sue Clausen tells parents of prospective students at St. John the Baptist School in New Brighton. If parents are looking for something different — strong academics without a faith component — there are other places to send their children and their money.
“We provide an excellent academic and faith-filled education,” Clausen said. “For us, that dual mission is critical.” St. John the Baptist was one of the first archdiocesan schools last fall to undergo Minnesota’s new Catholic Identity Standard Accreditation — an evaluation to identify exactly what makes a Catholic school “Catholic.”
Conducted locally by the archdiocesan Catholic Education and Formation Ministries office, the new accreditation replaces a Catholic identity component that was previously part of a school’s overall accreditation process. “What we’re viewing is that the Catholic identity really is an umbrella for all of the things that take place in our schools — that it really permeates all the different areas of a school,” said Mary Kane, the archdiocesan assistant superintendent of schools.
[....snip]For the new approach, schools complete a written, yearlong self-study examining their Catholicity and then undergo a site-visit evaluation.
The accreditation focuses on six areas:
Philosophy statements. Mission statements are to articulate the Catholicity of the school’s shared vision and values.
Governance and policies. The school’s leaders, documents and policies are to reflect the Catholic mission.
Leadership, faculty and staff. Leadership, faculty and staff are to know, support and live Catholic church teachings.
Formative school climate and facilities. The school is to be welcoming, inclusive and safe for students and visitors, and include opportunities for community prayer.
Informative development of faith. The school is to nurture the spiritual life of students, families, staff and all who have contact with the school.
Transformative faith community. The school is to put faith into action through integrating service and social-justice experiences. “This is much more in depth,” said Principal Kathleen Groettum of St. John Vianney School in South St. Paul, comparing the new accreditation process to the previous version. “It’s maybe a better reflective piece.” Created for all of Minnesota’s dioceses, the standard bases its evaluation on several documents published by the archdiocese and U.S. bishops. [....snip] Catholic Spirit