I currently teach at a Catholic school in Ontario, Canada and did one of my practicums in a public school (as well as having volunteered in a few before becoming a teacher) and I can tell you, personally, I wouldn’t do it again…I honestly can say there is a difference in the way children behave (I teach grade 2)…not that Catholic school kids are without their faults, but I saw a big disparity when I was in a public school…you definitely cannot speak about your faith or make any references to it at all (especially in elementary, might be different in high school though I don’t know)…as far as celebrating the liturgical calendar, you can’t say Merry Christmas (have to say happy holidays)…Lent/Easter wouldn’t be celebrated with pancake Tuesday or Ash Wednesday liturgies or Stations of the Cross presentations…there wouldn’t be monthly masses for the kids at their local parish church…most of our school have uniforms which puts all children on an even playing field when it comes to designer clothing…teaching about the Gospels or the Sacraments or God in general would be a no no…you definitely couldn’t teach them any prayers or have a religion table in your classroom…as far as I’m concerned, teaching in the public system would totally take away from my vocation…just my two cents worth…
I have taught at a public school both in and out of the US.
In both places, I did not share my faith publicly i.e. in the classroom. In each case they were older teens, however, I did not necessarily want to overstep my bounds as a teacher especially to overly influence a student who was on the fence about his or her faith.
I’m currently teaching at a public school on the reservation. So far it isn’t significantly less satisfying than teaching at the Catholic school the year before. Needless to say, you can’t teach religion classes or instill Catholic doctrine in your students. Instruction falls within Common Core (these are the standards that need to be followed in the US, or the state equivalent thereof for states that don’t participate in Common Core).
The upside of teaching at a Catholic School is obvious: you’re unchained by the public system, and you can freely instill your faith in the classroom. You usually have a Mass or at least a service at some point during the week. Religious icons & statues & art is present.
The downside is that the public system pays better, especially for me when you’re working for the tribe. In my case, there’s no comparison whatsoever with the resources that are available in the public school compared to the Catholic School. My particular school has been considerably bolstered financially by the tribe, which has money from oil wells.
On a human level, working at a public school is the same as working at a Catholic school. In either case, my 1st graders are just as human, just as flawed, and just as wonderful & beautiful in either the Catholic school or the public school. They are just as much made in the image of God, and I would die for them. I love them.
You could also run into the case of a Catholic School not being as rewarding as you think. You might find yourself teaching at a preppy, possibly even conceited school that essentially feels like an upper-middle class private school with religious artwork slapped on top, with a minority of students that show any considerable interest in the faith.
So far, either option is palatable for me. I have loans to pay and plans for a family - timeline set for within several years - so the public tribal system is where I’m at. In truth, a lot of it is simply going to depend on what particular school you land in. You might start in X public school and find it horrible, and move 30 minutes next door and find it great. The work atmosphere within any given school, private or public or religious, can vary a lot. It’s the same as with any business.
I teach music in a public elementary school. My students are very well-behaved and intelligent and I love my job. My state and my district are both careful to respect the religious rights of students and employees. There is even an advisory board of local clergy that assists the school board. Students are free to practice and be open about their faiths. Teachers are allowed to practice their faiths, but of course, they aren’t allowed to evangelize the students. District policy and curriculum specifically mention the need for students to study sacred music and art. If your first priority in teaching is spreading the Gospel, then a public school isn’t for you. If your first priority is to help God’s children grow into competent adults, then it might be the perfect place for you.
From your posts, it sounds like what you really want to do is evangelize, and teaching is how you want to do that. Then you should definitely teach in a Catholic school, period.
For me (a public school music teacher in my 19th year), my first priority was to teach the children with the greatest needs – generational poverty, inner city problems, academically underachieving. Boy, did I get my wish! I couldn’t work with this population if I worked in the Catholic schools. They just aren’t there.
Christ told us “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me” (Mark 9:37). I serve Christ in my young students and their families.
And don’t think for a moment that people won’t know you’re a Catholic! My students and their parents run into me at mass all the time. Two of my school students are in my religious education class on Sunday afternoons. I have kids say to me “You have the same crucifix as me!”
Everyone on staff whose known me for any length of time knows that I’m a Catholic. And everything I do at school is seen by children and adults who are atheists, agnostics, Mormons, ex-Catholics, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhists, every brand of protestant, and fellow Catholics. The children may not know the Source of my love for them, but they know they are loved - it’s up to God how He uses that to draw them closer to His heart. It’s not my job to micro-manage God’s work.
Oh, and remember that even when you teach in a Catholic school, you are there to help the children academically as well as spiritually. If all you care about is evangelization, then you might consider becoming a director of religious education at a parish.
The process of discerning God’s plan for you is a process. Keep moving forward.
Not necessarily in one’s work environment. The vast majority of people work in jobs where the can’t instruct other people in the Gospel. They can, however, be a witness in how they conduct themselves and how they treat others, which for most people is a lot bigger of a challenge than simply declaring what the believe, but not living it.
I wasn’t raised Catholic & went to public schools. As anywhere, there were good teachers, bad teachers, and a few really great teachers. I knew that some were Christian, tho not whether they were Catholic or Protestant.
Those great teachers made quite an impact on me and, I’m sure, others.
The point I’m trying to make is that the school doesn’t matter near as much as the teachers.
Catholics schools don’t have a massively higher graduation rate because of a massively better quality of teachers. I doubt the quality is much different at all. A lot of it has to do with the fact that you have children from safe, reasonably well-off families that value their children’s education all congregating in one location, where if a particular student is too disruptive and thus unwanted, he’s easily jettisoned from the school and sent to the nearest public school, into the laps & lives of those students, where the procedure for expelling students is far more extensive. If the classroom lepers are all sent away to the secular school system, it’s not hard to have almost everybody graduating.
In public schools, you get a full, thorough spread.