By Dr. Thomas Chadzutko
Starting another academic year ushers in a myriad of emotions: sadness in watching summer fade, the excitement of being reunited with friends, the stress of finding all the right school supplies. Each member of our school community prepares for the beginning of school in their own way with a unique perspective on returning to the classroom.
This year marks my 20th “first day of school” as Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services for the Diocese of Brooklyn. As I think about this new academic year, I am struck by the unique perspective, as superintendent, to see the academic year with a bird’s eye view. Like our feathered friends, I can step back and see the beginning of school from a distance, appreciating all that the new academic year brings in each school community.
The greatest aspect of my view is being able to witness the joy of students returning to the classroom. There is, of course, the bittersweet feeling of letting go of summer vacation, but the first day is filled with smiles as students greet friends and teachers. Our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools shine with the sense of community that is centered in a love of Christ. This connection is tangible within our schools and is brought to life especially in the celebration of the Eucharist and a shared prayer experience.
The depth of our spiritual communities does not develop through any coincidence or chance happening. A strong sense of community and relationships is built by individuals who are truly invest- ed in their students. Over the past year, we have all seen how teachers, staff, and principals are committed to placing their students at the forefront. Their work is essential to students and families.
After a long and tiring 2020-2021 school year, I am amazed to bear witness to the excitement and enthusiasm that faculty and staff are bringing back to the classroom. Seeing teachers greet new students and experiencing a true sense of joy from both parties reminds me of our greater purpose.
On the surface, Catholic Academies and Parish Schools were created to provide an education to students. The first day of school reminds me that we are called to a much higher purpose. Faith, community, morality, and academics are all integral parts of our mission. We are called to form saints and to form scholars, in that order. This speaks to the importance of educating the whole child, beginning with their faith.
We are called to share the faith through the love and knowledge of Christ. I am forever thankful for families that understand the importance of helping their children grow in the faith. Each family that is making the choice of Catholic education is supporting their child to fully explore and know their faith.
This invaluable gift has a profound impact on students, and we are honored to continue to be a part of this journey.
My view of our Catholic Academies and Parish Schools is anchored in the hope that I feel for this coming school year.We are building a brighter future by investing in our saints and scholars. Despite the challenges of the past year, our students are beacons of light within their families and communities.
I welcome each student, family, teacher, and principal back for a safe, healthy school year. God Bless.
Thomas Chadzutko, Ed.D., is Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services for the Diocese of Brooklyn.