Why Teach in a Catholic School?

So you’ve landed a job interview at a Catholic school, and you’re trying to prepare. What will they ask you? How should you respond?

I’ve interviewed dozens of applicants over the years, and one of the questions we often ask is, “Why do you want to work in a Catholic school?” Here are three responses to avoid:

  1. The students are more well-behaved in Catholic schools.
  2. Parents are more involved.
  3. I like small class sizes.

I have heard all three of these reasons during interviews over the last fifteen years. More than once. The problem is, they totally miss the point of the question. What’s more, they totally miss the point of Catholic education.

Here are three alternative answers to the question, “Why do you want to work in a Catholic school?”

  1. Jesus.
  2. Jesus.
  3. Jesus.

If Jesus is not at the core of our reasons for teaching in a Catholic school, then we have our priorities out of balance.  Jesus has called us to be teachers.  Jesus has given us the ability to touch hearts and minds.  Jesus wants us to bring the Good News to the world. There is no more important reason than that to teach at a Catholic school.

We don’t teach in Catholic schools because it’s easier than teaching in a public school. Catholic schools are not the minor leagues of the academic world.

Catholic schools are where teachers assist parents in fulfilling their sacred mission to tell the Good News to their children. And what is the Good News? Not a what, but a Who: Jesus Christ.

Our goal as Catholic educators should be to so design our lessons, our classroom management, and our lives, that Jesus Christ stands clearly at the front of it all.  He can be found in the novels we choose to teach, the writing prompts we assign, the historical events we study, the natural world we examine.

Street-corner evangelist Frank Sheed once wrote that Catholicism is the union of humanity with God through Jesus.  The goal of every Catholic school teacher is to do everything in his or her power to foster that union.

Deacon Nick

Nick Senger, founder and editor of Catholic School Chronicle, is an award-winning Catholic school teacher, vice principal and technology coordinator. He is a deacon for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane.

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2 Responses

  1. Linda Martinez says:

    After twenty years of teaching in the Texas Public School System, (at the same school), I am now I am applying for work in a California Catholic Senior High School and I am so excited at the opportunity of working in a school of faith.

  2. Beth says:

    I know you wrote this years ago, but I just read it. Thank you for this. It’s so true and such beautiful reasoning to teach at a Catholic school. Thank you!

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