Long Island is home to 42 beautiful Catholic elementary schools. Thirty eight of the schools are run by the Diocese of Rockville Centre while four are private Catholic elementary schools. All of the elementary schools and the nine Catholic high schools in Nassau and Suffolk operate under the religious direction of Bishop John Barres.
The Diocesan schools are a combination of Parish and Regional schools and are situated to be within geographic reach of the children of the 133 Catholic parishes in Nassau and Suffolk counties. The schools are open to students of all faiths, and all are welcome. Long Island Catholics are extended an incremental tuition discount regardless of whether their parish has a school or is part of a regional school. The idea is to make a Catholic education possible for every family.
One of the ways Catholic school is unique is that families can choose the school that best serves their child’s needs. There is no “geographic mapping” that dictates which a family must use. Because of this freedom to choose, events like Catholic Schools Week allow families to visit the schools of interest to them to meet the teachers and tour the facility to get a ‘feel’ for the school that their student will feel most at home in.
While each of our schools are somewhat unique, and reflect some of the character, tradition and personality of the Parish and community they serve, they all share a common focus on development of the whole child; in mind, in body and in spirit. This complete integration of the Catholic faith into all subjects and activities is what makes the character education in Catholic school stand out. At a time when all schools, public and private, are realizing the value of SEL, Social Emotional Learning—the development of the most desirable personal characteristics, is something that has differentiated the Catholic school student all along. It’s not just what they learn in their time with us, it is more about ‘who they become’. Our students graduate with character, confidence, drive, discipline and compassion.
The elementary schools offer classes for children as young as three years old, from middle school (8th grade) prepared to succeed in high school and beyond. Most of our graduates go on to a prestigious Catholic high school, and 99 percent of the high school graduates go on to college. Currently, more than 10,000 students attend Catholic elementary schools across Long Island and approximately 11,000 additional students attend a Catholic high school.
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a longitudinal study in 2014 where 10th graders from public, private and Catholic high schools were asked if they were planning to continue to college and pursue their degree. Those that expressed an intent to get a college degree were re-visited ten years later, eight years after they graduated high school. Nearly twice as many students who graduated from Catholic high schools earned their college degree compared to their public counterparts.
*National Center for Education Statistics 2014
Gary E. Layton is the director of marketing and enrollment for the Diocese of Rockville Centre.