With Faithful Beginnings, CSCOE aims to help preschools flourish

| Michael P. Kassner | August 18, 2017 | 0 Comments

Franciscan Clarist Sister Sancta Ezhanikattu leads preschoolers in song at St. Therese School in Deephaven in 2015. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

As preschoolers return to classrooms this fall, many attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis are heading into programs newly branded as “Faithful Beginnings.”

The initiative is part of Catholic Schools Center of Excellence’s mission to strengthen Catholic education and student enrollment in grade schools and early childhood programs in the archdiocese by creating a network of preschools with similar goals.

It’s more than a name change or marketing tactic. Developed by CSCOE, Faithful Beginnings’ name indicates that participating schools are focusing on CSCOE’s six pillars of excellence: creating a caring community of learners, teaching to enhance development and learning, planning appropriate curriculum, assessing children’s development and learning, developing reciprocal relationships with families, and building a Catholic community.

Faithful Beginnings is not a new early childhood curriculum, but an optional system for schools to improve their existing programs, said Maureen Lodoen, CSCOE communications manager. Participating preschools receive standards guidelines on areas ranging from Catholic identity and teacher training to the preschool’s relationship to the grade school and parent communications, as well as marketing seed grants, consistent logos and branding, and participation in a Faithful Beginnings website. The initiative includes Catholic schools’ child care, daycares, pre-kindergarten and preschool programs.

There are 73 early childhood programs in the archdiocese. Of them, 52 have chosen to adopt the Faithful Beginnings initiative and change the organization’s name to include “Faithful Beginnings.”

Some preschools chose not to adopt the Faithful Beginnings brand because it would alter their established name recognition, Lodoen said. Regardless of whether or not programs opt in, all can receive training and apply for CSCOE grants. They also gain access to communications and enrollment support from CSCOE, as well participation in CSCOE’s Preschool Network of Excellence.

“If they choose not to opt in, it’s because they have something better or don’t need what we offer,” she said. “If they can find excellence elsewhere, we’re okay with that.”

Kassy Kenney, preschool director of Faithful Beginnings at Highland Catholic School in St. Paul, said she appreciates CSCOE’s help, particularly the tools which help her articulate the advantages of Catholic early childhood programs.

“Initially, parents may not realize Faithful Beginnings is what they are looking for,” Kenney said. “Something they appreciate is our partnering with families during their child’s entire preschool through grade school journey.”

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Category: Back to School, Local News