Diocese of Knoxville Catholic Schools Preparing Scholars, Leaders, & Saints
July 29, 2022
Dear Catholic School Communities,
To our returning faculty and families, I joyfully welcome you back from what, I hope, was a fantastic summer. With great enthusiasm, I also offer the most heartfelt welcome to those joining us for the first time. As we begin this school year, let me thank you, our beloved Catholic school families, pastors, teachers, and faculty members, for your commitment to our Catholic schools and embracing the mission to lead our students to become scholars, leaders, and saints!
The trust you have placed in our schools by choosing to be a part of our communities is certainly not lost on me. We strive to provide each of you with an encounter with Christ through environments permeated with His love. It is through these loving environments that each child will grow and learn. While the gift of education is special, the gift of a faith education is truly life changing. Our children are growing-up in socially and culturally challenging times. From decades of data, we know that children who are provided a faith-based environment are more likely to practice the faith as adults and instill the same faith in their own children. Our graduates, with their foundation in Catholic school education, have provided a rich legacy of talent, service, and civic responsibility within their communities.
I pray this academic year continues to be healthy and safe for your family. As we begin this year, we will continue to follow all of our standard policies to mitigate contagious illness without instituting special protocols or procedures for any specific illness. Please know that we carefully monitor community changes with regard to infectious spread and will make necessary changes if warranted. Additionally, I am very pleased to report that our schools reviewed and revised their own internal crisis management plans and school leaders participated in training with FBI Special Agent Chris Slone on active shooter response. Let us continue to pray for communities across the nation who have experienced loss due to illness or violence.
Our focus, in addition to faith development and academics, is providing a learning environment that supports the whole child, including his or her social-emotional growth. While the past three years have been extremely challenging for adults, it has also been a difficult and sometime confusing time for our children. Children present flexible and resilient natures, but they have been susceptible to the stresses and anxieties felt by adults. During this past year, it became increasingly evident that our students may need additional supports within the school. This summer, with the help of a dedicated committee of learning specialists, we have revised our procedural practices for student academic support and have developed additional sections in our Special Needs Handbook to focus on early childhood and social/emotional health.
Our pastors, school leaders, and teachers are excited to begin this academic year with your family. Each new year brings new hope and the wonder of the infinite possibilities for learning and growing together. St. Catherine of Siena, through her inspiration from the Holy Spirit, boldly stated, “Be who God intends you to be and you will set the world on fire.” As a diocesan system of schools, we will embrace this theme and encourage every person in our school communities to do as St. Catherine of Siena has directed, to live our call as faithful disciples, so that we can truly set the world ablaze with love and charity. One of the best things about our Catholic schools is the unique and special relationship that we have with our parents and families. Working as a unified team, we can best support you as the primary educators of your children by continuing to develop and maintain the strong relationship between home and school. Together, with our shared vision, we can help all students achieve their full potential! I look forward to seeing each of you and the amazing things that our school communities and students will accomplish this year, through the grace and love of Christ!
In Christ’s love and peace,
Dr. Sedonna J. Prater, Superintendent of Catholic Schools