KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — There’s no denying the coronavirus pandemic reshaped education. For many families, it meant keeping their kids at home and schools saw a dramatic drop in enrollment.
But while the numbers were declining in other parts of the country, a Catholic school in Knoxville was experiencing an incredible period of growth. The Sacred Heart Cathedral School is offering families consistency and reassurance.
“The spring semester of 2020, when we had to switch over to virtual learning, we were able to finish that entire semester, finish our entire curriculum and I think that was pretty attractive to people,” Libby Orr, director of admissions and development, said.
Orr says enrollment increased 8% over the last two years.
“Once you are here and you get to know the community, it’s just a place where you want to stay,” said Orr.
At least 200 of the country’s nearly 6,000 Catholic schools closed in the past year, according to the National Catholic Educational Association. A lack of funding is being blamed for many of the school closures.
At Sacred Heart, they’ve been able to meet families where they are financially thanks to parishioners’ generous support.
“I think the fact that this diocese has a plan where they supplement tuition for families who can’t afford it, so it isn’t just a school for the wealthy,” said Principal Joan Turbyville.
Father David Boettner thinks more people are realizing the value of a community-based education.
“I think we’ve seen more and more families choosing a Catholic education because they recognize we have the opportunity here to educate the whole child, mind, body, and spirit,” said Father Boettner.
Another crucial factor credited to the school’s success is its educators. Caring involved teachers keep students coming back every year.
“The strength of the faculty and staff, and just having a positive outlook and certainly prayer is a big part of the school and I think God helps in that way too,” said Principal Turbyville.