St. Mary’s Catholic School in Natchitoches is joining the celebration for National Catholic Schools Week by showcasing what makes education at St. Mary’s outstanding.
Tuesday’s Spotlight features Ray Gandy, a fifth and sixth grade math teacher in his second year at St. Mary’s.
“My first impression of the school was that it encourages a very big family atmosphere,” he said. “I felt right at home when I walked in the door and I knew it was where I was supposed to be.”
Gandy graduated from Northwestern State University with a bachelors in social studies education with a minor in math, and a master’s in educational leadership. This year marks 30 years of teaching.
“I had teachers growing up that improved my life in a very positive way,” said Gandy. “I wanted to do the same thing for other children that they did for me.”
Celebrated annually at the end of January, St. Mary’s has organized a whole week of activities to show what its students are accomplishing and to celebrate the community it’s built, educating tomorrow’s citizens and church leaders.
This year’s theme is “Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed.” The theme encompasses the core products and values that can be found in Catholic schools across the country.
“Not only are we teaching students to become future servant leaders, faith-filled disciples and enriched citizens in our communities, educators are growing with them,” said St. Mary’s Principal Andrea Harrell. “In Catholic schools, we are all learners, servants and leaders. These shared qualities are what make Catholic schools work. They are what make Catholic schools succeed.”
The theme also focuses on key elements of Catholic education: faith development, academic excellence and dedication to service. These elements set Catholic schools apart from other educational options. They are why families make sacrifices to provide their children with Catholic education.
“I hope the community will join us for our All School Mass Wednesday, Jan. 31 at 9 am in the school gym and again Friday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 am in the St. Mary’s chapel for Mass, Adoration and Benediction,” said Harrell. “Please bring your friends and neighbors, particularly those who may be considering Catholic education for their service.”
Gandy said he likes everything at St. Mary’s, but the thing he likes the most is that he can practice his faith and share it with his students without fear.