School of Virtue: K4J Helps Catholic Parish & School
St. Thomas More uses K4J School of Virtue Program to enhance its catechesis.
â€œThe K4J programs complement and supplement our religious education programs very well.â€
Fr. Mark Eckman, Pastor, St. Thomas More, Pittsburgh, PA
The need it meets
â€œWe need to bring to life the accomplishments and teachings of sainted men and women in a manner that relates to our students' current social condition," said Sheila Riley, principal of St. Thomas More School in Pittsburgh, PA. "The K4J School of Virtue Program gives us the tools to do this.â€
Where it came from
St. Thomas More had the opportunity to be one of the first schools to pilot the new K4J School of Virtue program.
How it works
The monthly packets mimic the â€œmediaâ€ experiences that the children get in the secular world. â€œBut in K4J the message is totally Catholic,â€ said Riley. Children are involved in planning and presentation, especially at the Captain level for older students. They model behavior for the younger students, and assimilate while they do this. â€œThe old adage, we learn when we teach, proves true for the children as well as adults,â€ said Riley.
The children are in the program through prayer, arts and crafts, interaction and presentation. "They are essentially living the virtue of the month through their activities and peer interactions," said Riley.
The School of Virtue program supplements the regular school and catechism curriculum by connecting faith to daily life with materials like the Holy Hero trading card, the Parentâ€™s Perspective document, toys and stickers to mark progress on the Mission of the Month.
The school gets a Principalâ€™s Kit and 10 Teacher's Kits; these include nine monthly directorâ€™s guidebooks with an overview of the program, tips to implement the program, reproducible documents, a Mission Songs CD, a scope and sequence plan, a graphics CD, a Holy Hero card featuring a saint, contest and incentive items to motivate the students and a parentsâ€™ newsletter template. The items for use in the classroom are available for any grade level.
Principal Riley said the School of Virtue program from K4J â€œallows teachers to present Catholic virtues and reach children on a level and in a setting that is more loosely structured than the general instructional setting. Simply said, this is very appealing to the children and has resulted in successful delivery of the programs objectives.â€
Riley said the program promotes the school because it gets staff and school families talking. Most of them like having an additional virtues program that attempts to provide students with alternatives to the secular culture.
Riley said parents began talking about the program and showing up at the monthly School of Virtue assembly programs. â€œI have had many, many emails and notes commenting on the positive nature of the program and thanking St. Thomas More for attempting to bring Catholic virtues to the children on a level that is interesting and appealing,â€ said Riley. â€œAt this point, the families really want to be involved in preparing the assemblies and ask often about upcoming virtues and how they can get more involved at home.â€
- Principal Riley said a parish should first hold an in-service meeting with your teachers and those pastoral people in the parish who will be involved.
- Because the students receive new information each month, this helps get the parents on board because they ask questions about what is coming home.
- A regular assembly presentation on the virtue-of-the-month works well for the older students.
How to implement it
To find out more about all the K4J virtue programs, including â€œThe School of Virtue,â€ as well as K4J parish programs, individual memberships and vacation bible school programs, go to www.k4j.org.
The parentsâ€™ kit is available in three different, age-appropriate Mission Kits. The program is available to schools for less than $600. Parents can order packets for home use, costing $19.95 for 9 months of materials.
Mark Eckman is pastor of
St. Thomas More.