Head of School Blog
Susan Tyree Dempf, Ph.D.

Delving into the Goals

Dear Academy families and friends,

The Goals and Criteria of Sacred Heart Education serve as our guide map for all that we undertake at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. The first articulation of the Goals was released in 1975. While the Goals have not changed across the years, the way we aspire to live them (as articulated through the Criteria) has evolved. These periodic updates help to keep the schools, and all the constituent groups associated with them, responsive to the changing needs of Sacred Heart students and the communities surrounding them.

This week I welcome you to consider with me Goal I: Schools of the Sacred Heart commit themselves to educate to a personal and active faith in God. The first Criteria offered under Goal I helps to define us as a school community: “The school identifies itself as a Catholic-independent-Sacred Heart School and embodies the mission of the Society of the Sacred Heart.” “Catholic” identifies our faith tradition, “independent” identifies our structure, and Sacred Heart identifies the sponsoring religious organization (the RSCJ). This connects beautifully to the understanding that the mission of our school is part of the Society’s educational mission within the Catholic Church.

While Goal I may instinctively bring a first thought of liturgical celebrations such as the Mass of the Holy Spirit or the recent Commissioning Mass, the Criteria offered in support of this Goal are much broader. Criteria 2 supports the development of a position of “gratitude, generosity, compassion and forgiveness” among students and adult members of the school community. These attributes of the heart of Christ are developed and demonstrated in a myriad of ways and across settings. The playground and the classroom and the Board Room as well at Soccer games and Country Fair — each of these spaces and activities presents opportunities to grow and live these traits.

Goal I, Criteria 3 speaks of a community possessing an “ethos of joy, hope and celebration” and that the Academy programs support the essential belief that “there is meaning and value in life” for all. I have added the “for all,” as it helps us to bridge an understanding that we articulate when we say that the Academy is a Catholic school for children of all faiths. Criteria 4 speaks directly to that as it says “The school community welcomes and respects persons of all faiths and educates to an understanding of the religions and spiritual traditions of the world.”

The tradition of Espacio as well as opportunities for Eucharistic adoration are just two ways that time is set aside from the busy — and loud — life we all lead to support the ability to be still and to listen to the presence of God dwelling within. With the development of this skill, and I do believe it is a skill, students and adults alike become better equipped to tap into the interior life and draw strength, clarity and support through practices of “prayer, discernment and reflection.” Goal I, Criteria 5 and Criteria 6 call us to support growth in these areas.

Lastly, Criteria 7 under Goal I states — “the school community, rooted in the love of Jesus Christ, nurtures the spiritual lives of its members through the exploration of one’s relationship to God, to self, to others and to creation.” The understanding that you are loved by God occurs in many ways and is developed over time. Children first experience God’s love through the care and unwavering love of their parents and family. Through our partnership with parents, we endeavor to further develop an openness to God’s mystery and love. Additionally, providing time spent outdoors at Camp Lakewood building trust in others, learning about nature and our earthly home in science class or, as our youngest learners did this week, spending time with a dog and his human friend from the APA all contribute to the development of an awareness beyond self and the goodness of relationships — relationships given to us by God so as to reflect His love by and for others.

United in mission,
Dr. Susan Dempf