Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Catholic Schools Educate The Whole Child With Two Goals: 'college And Heaven'

Good Shepherd Principal Kristen Girten, center, greets prospective students at the Jan. 31 "Come and See" event, as Student Council member Jack Schnarr, left, waits to give a tour of the school.

There’s no question sending your child to a Catholic school is a good choice, according to Shari Hirsch.

She believes Catholic schools are beneficial because they focus on educating the whole child both academically and spiritually.

“If I want to raise children with a strong Catholic faith, sending them to a Catholic school makes my job easy,” Hirsch said. “All of the values I want to instill in them don't just happen in the evenings, which are usually hurried and scattered, or just at church on the weekends. My children are surrounded all day with children whose parents want the same and teachers who also live by Catholic traditions and standards.”

During National Catholic Schools Week, which was celebrated Jan. 27 – Feb. 2, all 26 Catholic Diocese of Evansville schools hosted a “Come and See” open house on Jan. 31.

Good Shepherd Catholic School Principal Kristen Girten said the event allowed prospective families to visit any diocesan school to “see what makes us different.” Girten said families toured the school and learned about curriculum, extra-curricular activities and tuition assistance.

“Catholic education allows the school to partner with the parents, the first teachers of the faith, and help tahe children grow in faith, knowledge and service,” she said. “Our goal is to help each and every student become the best that God created them to be.”

Girten is in her third year as Good Shepherd’s principal, but she’s spent about 18 years either teaching or serving as a principal for Catholic schools in the Evansville diocese.

Good Shepherd is a preschool through eighth grade facility with full-day kindergarten. Currently, there’s one preschool class and one prekindergarten class, but Girten said the plan is to expand next year to accommodate their waiting list.

Hirsch is not only a Catholic school parent with two kids at Reitz Memorial High School and one at Little Rams PreK at Good Shepherd, but she’s spent 19 years teaching middle school at Good Shepherd. She wanted her children to get a Catholic education so they could learn about their faith, but after teaching in a Catholic school for many years her reason is more passionate.

“The Catholic schools my children have attended have had positive high expectations for personal accountability and academics,” Hirsch said. “Teaching at a Catholic school I get to see up close and personally the dedication of the teachers and administrators.”

For Debbie Achilles, teaching kindergarten at a Catholic school allows her to practice her faith daily through prayer. Achilles, who has taught at Good Shepherd for 13 years, said some benefits of attending a Catholic school include the ability to teach religion and share the church's mission, an amazing atmosphere, smaller class sizes and wonderful parental support.

“In my opinion, a Catholic education is important because it not only teaches general education it also teaches about God in our daily lives,” she said. “Students are encouraged to use the life lessons they have learned through reading bible stories and attending Mass.”

Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Daryl Hagan agreed, and said Catholic schools offer a holistic education because educators don’t teach just math or English, they teach subjects with a permeating aspect of faith.

“It’s cliché but we’re not educating children just for college,” Hagan said. “Simply put, we have two goals: college and heaven. We educate the whole student and the spiritual and faith-based component of that is critical.”

“I consider that to be an awesome responsibility and a beautiful gift for God,” Girten added.

Don’t let money scare you away from looking into Catholic schools, Hirsch advised.

All 26 diocesan Catholic Schools participate in the Indiana School Choice Scholarship Program, commonly referred to as the voucher program. Hagan said Hoosier families are “blessed” to have school choice which provides scholarships to eligible Indiana students to offset tuition costs at participating schools.

Hagan stressed the open house event was not the only time to enroll your child at a Catholic school.

Girten hosts other events at Good Shepherd like the “Lunch and Learn” in the spring, which allows parents to visit during their lunch hour for a tour and sack lunch.

“Families who are looking for an education where their children will be formed in the faith, where Jesus Christ will be lived out, that is a Catholic school,” Hagan said. “We welcome and invite all families to come and apply.”

Call your local Catholic school for a tour to learn more about enrolling your child. Visit the diocesan website at for more information.