Saint Michael School in Greenville is making steps towards becoming what Emily Zgonc, Principal, refers to as a truly Catholic school. This means having the Catholic faith taught and tangibly accessible outside of the religion classroom, to the hallways of the school and beyond to the students’ homes. To achieve this, Emily sought Catholic Foundation grant funding to purchase new theology materials for students from kindergarten through eighth grade that would help “promote Catholic identity in [their] school” as well as provide teachers and staff with some additional professional development and training to better teach their Catholic faith.
Saint Michael School was awarded an Education Grant through the Catholic Foundation to support this project. The funds were used to purchase Theology of the Body classroom kits for kindergarten through 5th grade students and individual books for 6th grade through 8th grade students. Teachers at Saint Michael also received training in the Theology of the Body curriculum helping them to pass on the faith in a more authentic way. A secondary part of the project included the purchase of religion books from Sophia Institute for Teachers. These were implemented in the 2021-2022 school year to great success.
Emily recalls a favorite, and pleasantly unexpected, moment from that school year with a kindergarten student. “She ran up to me on the playground, hugged me, and said, ‘Miss Zgonc, you are a gift!’” The use of the word “gift” came directly from the Theology of the Body materials, which was a big part of the overall lexicon of Saint Michael School that year: everyone is created as a gift.
Teachers enjoyed using the new Theology of the Body resources and found them to be inspiring and engaging for their students. Students enjoyed the religion books which helped to teach them to appreciate and recognize truth, goodness, and beauty in the world around them and all they encounter. They particularly enjoyed looking at and discussing the traditional and classical Catholic art featured in the books. Emily describes the use of these new books as a first step to implementing a more classical model of teaching at Saint Michael: “Rather than the exchange of knowledge and right answers between teacher and student, the teacher provides opportunities for the student to wonder and discover truth, goodness, and beauty: all of which lead us to Jesus!”
Emily believes they are on the right track of implementing the teachings they found in the books and transforming Saint Michael into a truly Catholic school. She writes, “the more our community discovers and uncovers the truth embedded in the teaching, the more on fire we will be!”
In thanking the Foundation for the grant support, Emily writes “At the end of each school day, the students and I together say, “Our foundation is Jesus! Our goal is to help each other get to be saints! Thank you for partnering with us to get our students to heaven!”
Your support of the Foundation’s granting endowments makes it possible to offer funding like this to schools, parishes, and ministries throughout northwest Pennsylvania. Help us to impact even more lives by joining us today.
“At the end of each school day, the students and I together say, “Our foundation is Jesus! Our goal is to help each other get to be saints! Thank you for partnering with us to get our students to heaven!”