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PROGRAM — Individual and Corporate School Tuition Organization Tax Credit

By Jill and Jeff Hansen

We are the proud parents to five children: Elizabeth, a junior; Anthony, a sixth grader; Owen, a fourth grader; Isabelle, a second grader; and Ariel, who is in kindergarten. Our oldest daughter started at the neighborhood public school, which was a couple blocks away from where we lived. Issues came up after a couple of years.  We felt the administration was unresponsive to our concerns and told us the problems would be addressed over the coming years. By then, our son was starting kindergarten and we were still dealing with the same problems.

We reached out to Gehlen Catholic School and scheduled a visit. At the time, we were growing our family and had become a family of five. We explained to the Gehlen Catholic elementary principal & Development Director we thought the school would be a great fit. The costs scared us! That’s when they informed us of the tax credit scholarship. We filled out the paperwork and were awarded a scholarship that eased the cost and made it possible for our kids to attend.

We also received a scholarship from the Diocese through the Iowa School Tuition Organization Act (Iowa STO-tax credit program). The cost was still a factor. As a young family, we had many expenses. We were paying for lots of diapers. We prayed a lot about what we should do. Despite the cost, we felt this was the best decision for our family. Our kids could express themselves freely at Gehlen Catholic and we loved it. 

Gehlen Catholic is unique. Our children feel free to express their views, whether political or social. They can also discuss God. Before, our kids couldn’t pray at school.  We appreciate they can pray & live their faith at Gehlen Catholic School. Knowing that they have that ability to discuss God freely without judgment — that’s important to us.

Our 16 year old is now getting to the age where she is more aware of what’s going on around her and around the community, the nation, and even the world. She and her friends discuss world issues and social issues, as well as local issues. She doesn’t feel judged. This is another reason why Gehlen Catholic is such a great fit for our family. 

Jill speaking in support of expanding school choice programs in Iowa

My husband works for a large employer in Le Mars and I work in the public school system. In my role, I see how children don’t have the same social awareness are viewed and treated differently. They are judged. It’s hard to watch. At Gehlen Catholic, our children have the opportunity to grow and learn to become the adults we want to takeover our world, be responsible for jobs, and create an entire infrastructure. 

Gehlen Catholic students are taught social awareness that empowers them to be involved in the community. They package food for Honduras, go on mission trips, and help with community service projects. They learn to respect the elderly and volunteer when people are in need. These are values we instill at our children at home. Gehlen Catholic reinforces in our children and helps them to use those values out in the world. 

If we were in the public school, we’d be in a better financial situation. 

We believe we are giving our children a step ahead when it comes to the choice we made to come to Gehlen Catholic .

The cost is still a challenge.  With the tax credit scholarship & local tuition assistance, we figure out how to make it work financially.  We know the return on our parental investment (tuition) will help our children be successful-growing academically, socially and spiritually. They will be well-rounded and see the world through a lens that values others

As a public school teacher, I recognize that sometimes students are treated like a number. That’s not the case at Gehlen Catholic.

Gehlen Catholic provides a family atmosphere. People go out of their way to check up on each other and make sure everything is okay. We have a sense of ownership. We have a stake in Gehlen Catholic’s success and they make everyone feel they’re important. We have received as much as we have given.

If not for school choice and the Iowa STO (tax credit program), our family would not have this opportunity and would not be able to attend Gehlen Catholic.

We are very grateful and humbled to have a choice in where to send our children. 

If we could, we would thank every donor who contributes face-to-face. Until then, we thank each donor we know when we see them & do so daily our prayers & service to the school, church & world. 


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