Lighting the Way for Catholic Schools Week

Educators and families have worked together to keep students safe and learning, as director of Catholic schools Michelle Peduto explains

Despite ongoing challenges from COVID-19, Catholic schools are “lighting the way” in leading young people to God as Catholic Schools Week begins on Sunday, January 31.

“Every day our children are encouraged and shown how to have a conversation with God,” said Michelle Peduto, director of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Pittsburgh. “That’s the light in each child’s heart. That is what our schools do.”

Instead of families visiting school buildings for Catholic Schools Week, tours will be held online. Peduto urged families to visit school websites and call individual schools. Registration will be continuing through the spring.

In an interview with diocesan spokesperson Jennifer Antkowiak to promote Catholic Schools Week, Peduto praised teachers, administrators and staff for working tirelessly during the pandemic.

“From Day One they stepped up, rolling out their virtual program last March, helping to prepare our health and safety plan over the summer, and doing what it takes to keep students in classrooms this school year,” she said.

Despite short-term closures in a number of schools, there has been no internal spread of the coronavirus within Catholic schools in the diocese.

Strategic regionalization of elementary schools has been especially valuable at this time, helping educators share ideas and strategies while building relationships, Peduto said.

The primary purpose of regionalization is to continue to provide families with access to Catholic elementary schools that are academically excellent, spiritually vibrant and financially sustainable.

All parishes in a region share in the operation and support of Catholic elementary schools, which are led by principals under the oversight of a regional administrator and business manager. Schools are governed by a board of clergy and volunteer lay leaders who represent all the parishes in an area, giving them a voice and investment in Catholic education.

“Our academics are outstanding, along with our extracurriculars,” Peduto said. “We are known for our sports, forensics, musicals and so many other activities. All of those things are signs of hearts on fire for God and for life.”

What makes Catholic schools different?

“We value every single member of our community,” Peduto said. “It shows how important you are to this mission, how important your child is, and how much your teachers value you.”

Michelle Peduto visits with Sacred Heart 8th grade student Morgan McCray on Jan. 28.