Parent perspectives: from academics to spiritual formation, Catholic schools are a worthwhile investment

North Texas Catholic
(Jan 26, 2023) Feature

girls at play

Pre-Kindergartner Alexsia Vasquez plays with her friends during the first day of school at St. Rita's Catholic School August 10, 2022. (NTC/Jayme Donahue)

There’s no doubt that private schools involve a significant cost. Is sending your child to Catholic schools worth the sacrifices that your family may need to make?

Several parents whose children attend diocesan schools or have graduated from those schools answer with an enthusiastic “yes!” Not only do their children have a strong foundation in the faith, they also have an excellent academic foundation, benefit from more personal attention from teachers, and they thrive in a supportive community.


Planting seeds of faith

Luz Martinez Juarez, who has a ninth grader at Cristo Rey who graduated last year from St. George Catholic School in Fort Worth and a current sixth grader and kindergartner at St. George, said that the cost of enrollment was a big concern initially.

The family sent their oldest child to public school because they thought Catholic school would be too expensive.

But while attending a carnival at St. George Church, the family’s parish, Martinez talked to school representatives and learned that there was partial financial aid available. She and her husband Modesto Juarez decided to give Catholic school a try.

“We’ve made sacrifices, but it’s worth it,” she said. “Sometimes we spend money on so many things that we don’t really need. This was like an investment.”

Martinez appreciates the school reinforcing shared values instead of exposing her children to values that go against Catholic teachings.

Kids get strengthened in their values instead of getting attacked and can build up their moral compass to stand against negative ideas in the culture.

“I love that they’re being reinforced with values and learn about faith in school,” she said.

She also noticed that her children were happy to go to school and made friends there easily. The classes are small, and the kids get lots of personal attention. Teachers communicate well with parents to keep them in the loop when issues arise.

“We think it’s totally worth it,” Martinez said. “This is the time where you can plant a seed in their hearts.”

She’s seen that seed grow with more caring attitudes from her children and the desire and opportunities to give back to the community.

students in pew
St. Peter Catholic School students at Mass on August 18, 2022. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


Kids who love school

Maria Gonzalez and her husband Gaspar Gonzalez had their children in public schools until four years ago. Their oldest child was doing fine in public schools but the second was struggling.

The couple had talked a little about Catholic education, and when they realized their third grader who was having trouble was in a class of 23 kids, they decided they wanted to try a school where she would get more personal attention.

Now the daughter is in eighth grade at St. Rita Catholic School in Fort Worth and is part of the National Junior Honor Society. Their oldest finished his high school education at Cassata Catholic High School. They also have a third grader and a first grader at St. Rita and a preschooler who will be at the school next year.

“We absolutely love it,” she said. “It’s not easy because there is a financial commitment. We love that they have religion every single day.”

St. Rita’s is the family’s home parish, and they appreciate the spiritual formation their children receive at school. Gonzalez said her kids enjoy religion classes and talk to her often about the saints and the Catholic liturgical calendar.

“I really don’t think they could be in a better school,” she said.

teacher with student
First grade teacher Ashley Sanders works with students during the first week of the school year at St. George Catholic School in Fort Worth on Friday, August 12, 2022. (NTC/Kevin Bartram)


Well-prepared academically and morally

Alma Perez and husband Jaime Balandran are at the end of the line with all their children attending St. John the Apostle School in North Richland Hills. The youngest of five is now an eighth grader there, and Perez will miss being part of the close-knit school community the family has enjoyed for more than 20 years.

She joked about her youngest daughter, saying, “I tried to bribe her to go back to Pre-K.”

The decision to send their kids to Catholic school “was a sacrifice, but we feel it’s worth it.”

The teachers are compassionate and are quick to call right away if there is an issue or if a parent has a question, Perez explained.

Perez added that her children have been well-prepared, both academically and morally. Her second-to-youngest attends the biomedical science academy at Byron Nelson High School. At orientation, they told students to start using an academic planner; students at St. John learn to use a planner in early elementary.

They also know what is right and wrong and can steer clear of negative situations, she said.

Another child graduated sixth out of 600 from Northwest High School. One young adult child is a computer engineer, another is graduating soon as an oral surgeon, and one is a speech therapist.

Brinton Smith, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Fort Worth, said that his office is working with the Advancement Foundation on the Catholic Education Campaign. The primary goal is to provide more tuition assistance at the diocesan level. Right now, the aid comes from the individual schools. Another priority is to increase teacher pay and benefits.

There’s a reason why financial help is the top priority.

“We don’t want Catholic families unable to attend Catholic schools,” Smith said.

He said the main draw of Catholic education is for students “to receive the fullness of truth.” That means that they understand God’s created order, how to relate to God, and how to live in community with one another.

He said, “We’re all created to know, love, and serve God.”

Catholic school, parents, Diocese of Fort Worth, St. Rita Catholic School, St. George Catholic School, St. John the Apostle Catholic School, trending-english