Why does school choice matter? For our family, school choice is about community and the belief that education takes place within the context of caring relationships. This differentiator of Catholic education is something my family has personally experienced, and it has had a transformative impact on us during a time of trial.
Last year, my husband and I learned that our oldest son has a rare form of head and neck cancer. Our son underwent surgery almost immediately following his diagnosis to remove four lymph nodes and the malignant tumor. His surgery was followed by a number of post-surgical complications and an infection. This trial was unlike anything we ever expected to encounter, and what got us through this, and still helps us cope daily, is our faith – which continues to be strengthened by the support we receive from both the St. Gerald School community and the Gross Catholic High School community.
As members of our Catholic school communities learned about Tyler’s condition, there was an outpouring of love, prayers, meals, and support that left us speechless. At no time during that tumultuous time did my husband or I ever feel hopeless or alone in this fight for the health of our son.
Tyler’s post surgical complications prevented him from attending his last two weeks of school during his seventh grade year. His classmates must have known how much he was missing them and sent Tyler personalized cards that showed his classmates not only cared for him deeply, but that they actually knew him and what is important to him. The day Tyler received that gigantic card bouquet from school his face lit up with joy and that is something I will never forget.
My husband and I are overjoyed to share that Tyler is expected to make a full recovery and recently celebrated his first anniversary of remission. Tyler still sees his oncologist several times throughout the year, but we know his classmates hold him in prayer daily and that helps us remain hopeful.
Nebraska is fortunate to have many exceptional schools – both public and private. In our great state, many students benefit from outstanding academic preparation, however, few schools can care for the spiritual well being of a child and their family the way our Catholic schools did. Spiritual care transcends religion. It is something that nurtures every child, and something that I believe every child should experience. And this is why school choice matters. Families should have the opportunity to choose the school that best meets the needs of their child – educational, physical, social, emotional and spiritual – for in education, we are not only responsible for the academic growth of our students, but their whole-person well being.