Why Do Families Choose A Catholic Education?

Every year, schools around the country take a week or month to celebrate Catholic education. This year, the theme for Catholic Schools Week is “Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence.Service.”

At The Franciscan School (TFS), we are honored with the gift of educating and mentoring the next generation. Our motto of “Faith, Academics, and Service” is really at the heart of everything we do. We are excited that we get to take time to pause, reflect, and celebrate the blessing of Catholic education this week and the impact it’s had on families in the Triangle.

Such a large part of TFS is the families, and we spoke to a few of them to learn why they chose a Catholic education for their children. Although their journeys to TFS have all been different, they share why a Catholic education, and TFS in particular, have been so meaningful and valuable.

Why did you choose a private school education, most specifically a Catholic school education, for your family?

Jennifer Marks, mom of five, four of which attend The Franciscan School:

This was probably one of the first topics my husband and I spoke about regarding wanting a family. I grew up in a home where our Catholic faith was the foundation of our family. I loved that each day of school was filled with prayer and that you could talk to friends and teachers about faith. The educational piece and the curriculum for parochial schools has always been stellar but the faith-filled environment is unmatched. It was never about public vs. private for us; it was about committing to Catholic schooling.

Marks Family
Marks Family

Venus Strong-Smith, mom to Josiah and Jackson Smith who attend The Franciscan School:

Having family members who attended Catholic school and working in the medical field, coupled
with the experiences we’ve had in public schools, Catholic school was the accurate choice for our family. Catholic schools instill strong values, faith, and leadership. Joining in the catholic community, we understood this would give our boys a lifetime of opportunities that we did not have as kids.

Kristen Klecha, mom of 3 who all currently attend The Franciscan School:

When we were deciding on where to send our children to school, it was important to us to provide them with a quality education, but also find a school that placed a strong emphasis on character building. Already parishioners at St. Francis of Assisi, finding exactly what we were looking for in an education at TFS and also having our children receive an education that aligned with our religious values, felt like finding a unicorn.

With many options available in this area, what led you to The Franciscan School?

Jennifer Marks:
Ironically, we did not look at a single school except The Franciscan School! That decision was made long before it was time to register for school. We actually knew we would be sending the children to The Franciscan School, therefore moved to North Raleigh and switched them to St. Francis Preschool before any of them were school-aged.

I have coached at Cardinal Gibbons High School for 25 years and have met not only amazing children, but their families are like family to me as well. The children coming from TFS were extremely prepared for high school, both academically and socially. The girls had nothing but great things to say about their K-8th experience at TFS and said the transition to high school was a smooth one thanks to the solid foundation of TFS.

Venus Strong-Smith:
My elementary students attended TFS and I watched them blossom into wonderful human beings. They had the greatest experience personally and academically. The parents spoke highly of the school, Mr. Watson, and the teachers. There was a great emphasis on “All are Welcome. 

Kristen Klecha:
After having had a wonderful experience at St. Francis Preschool, it was only natural to look immediately at TFS as the next step in our children’s education. We were very impressed with the faith-based education at TFS, but also toured 4 other schools to compare. When we toured TFS, it felt like home. When I came into the office for the first time to drop off our deposit, still wondering somewhat in the back of my mind “did we make the right decision?”, Marie Leone looked at me and said “welcome to the family.” That is what solidified that we were making the right decision for not only our children, but also for our family. We knew that our children would receive a quality education, and they would also be welcomed into a home away from home.

What aspects of a Catholic education do you feel are most important for your family?

Jennifer Marks:
Faith, Community, Service and Leadership....The community is like no other, especially at TFS.
The reminder that God is always with you. It is important that their day starts every single day with prayer and reflection and that the children are taught from a very young age to be a good steward, to love each other in the way that God loves you and to never take this precious life for granted.

Venus Strong-Smith:
In the beginning for our family, love, discipline, and leadership were the most important aspects
of a Catholic education. Since joining the school, we also learned that a Catholic education is a
preparation for life, disciplining the mind, body, and spirit. It means establishing a relationship with your peers and community, extending a helping hand, always discovering ways to include everyone. A Catholic education is moral and social development. 

Smith Family
Smith Family

Kristen Klecha:
Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12-17). Serving others, especially the most vulnerable, is one of the most important aspects of Catholic education. TFS leads by example in this area, by students singing at Duke Children’s Hospital at Christmas, participating in multiple service projects throughout the year, raising money for charities through the Dollar Dress Out days, and supporting Passage Home through food drives. Showing the importance of giving back to our community, specifically to those in need, is a character trait that will last our children a lifetime. 


 At TFS, the community partners with families to ensure that they are carrying the values of home throughout the school day. How important is that to you?

Jennifer Marks:
This is important to us because our children are truly at TFS with their teachers longer than they are with us every single day. Nothing is more comforting as a parent than knowing the morals and standards you expect at home are also expected at school. Consistency is so important with young children and if they are consistently getting the same messages from both teachers and parents it is so much easier to navigate through the early school years.

Venus Strong-Smith:
This is one of the most important values that we embrace. Being able to be great leaders for our boys and show them the right way to live their lives is our number one priority. We wish that they take what they have learned at home, and influence someone else. We stress kindness, honesty, and integrity in our boys.

Kristen Klecha:
In our home, we strive to model to our children how to live our lives as Jesus did by caring for others, praying for others, and serving those in need. We know that when our children walk into TFS every day, they will hear the word of God, and the faculty and staff are echoing the family values we are instilling at home.

What is your favorite part of TFS?

Jennifer Marks:
By far my favorite tradition at TFS is morning prayer, but, if I had to name ONE part that is my
favorite, it would hands down be the faculty and staff. Your children are never a number at TFS.
They are known by name and respected for who they are. The teachers and administrators truly
love these children and are passionate about giving them an incredible learning experience.

There are so many examples I can give to back this statement. When our dearest nanny passed
away, every teacher took the time out of their day to talk to the children, let them ask questions,
talk about heaven, comfort them, and let them know they were thinking about them. Teachers
that have retired years ago, still to this day, text, call, send Christmas cards, etc. They come into
your children's lives and don't leave when they graduate. The teachers go above and beyond to partner with you to ensure the very best experience for your child.  


Venus Strong-Smith:
The Franciscan School’s education is our favorite attribute. The lessons are rigorous, well-planned, and relate to real life scenarios. Our fourth grader can research and create beautiful PowerPoint presentations. His confidence and performance in Math is admirable. At home, with our 8th, we can expound on the lessons and relate them to our current family situations. Our kids are gaining more than an education; they are learning life skills they will be able to use for the rest of their lives.

My absolute favorite tradition at TFS is Morning Prayer. The ENTIRE school comes together in prayer. It’s a powerful and rewarding way to start everyone’s day. In that moment, the school is WHOLE, with a clear intention to give thanks, display love to all, as well as celebrate each others accomplishments. It’s a beautiful moment that our children can experience EVERY school day.

Kristen Klecha:
TFS provides a high-quality, faith based education that is so important to us. However, the community at TFS is like none other. The faculty and staff at TFS are loving, nurturing, and supportive. Our children have made friends and their families have become our friends as well.
These are the people we call on in times of need, who will pray for us and we will, in turn, pray
for them.

We are growing together in our lives and we are also growing together in our faith, a quality that is unique to this community. My kindergartner’s favorite thing about TFS is her teachers; my 2nd grader’s favorite thing about TFS is his friends; and my 5th grader’s favorite thing about TFS is being a part of safety patrol and morning prayer. 

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