By Emily Drooby
Students were back in Samentha Samuel’s classroom for the first day of school wearing uniforms and masks,
“I’m happy to be back in the building,” Samentha said. “I’m glad that the kids are able to come back. There’s such a comradery and a communal feel here.”
She’s a teacher at St. Clare Catholic Academy in Rosedale, Queens.
Student Jennifer Pinnock said she has fun at school.
“I like that there’s very fun teachers and we do a lot of fun stuff,” Jennifer said. “Sometimes there’s a lot of work, but it’s still fun.”
School principal Mary Rafferty-Basile said she had to figure out a way to replace last year’s fear and nerves with confidence. The result led to a successful pandemic school year under their belt.
That confidence is still showing – now through their enrollment numbers that are up almost 10 percent.
“Because we are so successful last year, I really feel that parents know we have the safety of their children, top priority,” Mary said. “And so, because of that, the children are safe, they learn. It’s a great environment and word gets around.
They’re not alone. For the first time in a decade, schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn are seeing overall growth – 60 percent of them have seen an increase in enrollment.
It’s also the first summer in a while that a Catholic academy didn’t permanently close.
As for the Vicar for Catholic Schools, Monsignor David Cassato, he thinks it has something to do with how they handled the pandemic.
“We were able to keep our schools open,” Msgr. Cassato said. “Parents saw us and saw how good we were doing it, and I think that’s what opened their eyes to Catholic education.”
The uptick is a trend that he, and schools across the diocese, hope continues into next year.