By: Joseph Kirk Ryan for The Dialog
Emma and Timothy Hines have a determined drive to provide their son a Catholic education. Every school morning, Emma first drives her husband to work at Blue Marble Logistics in Wilmington, and then she returns home to take their son, Easton, to Christ the Teacher Catholic School in Glasgow.
Emma admits the two-hour routine is a bit of a “logistical nightmare” for their one-car family who lives about 15 minutes down Route 40 from the school, but “we figure it out.”
Easton will be a seventh-grader at Christ the Teacher this year, which will be the third year the family’s tuition payment to the school will be aided by a grant from the Diocese of Wilmington’s Vision for the Future Education Trust.
Each year, interest from the Trust, along with proceeds to the annual Share in the Spirit collection, provides financial aid to parents who want a Catholic education for their children but who cannot fully afford the cost of tuition. This year’s Share in the Spirit collection is scheduled for parishes in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore on September 26 and 27.
When the family found the area public school feeder program unsatisfactory, Emma said they enrolled Easton in second grade at Christ the Teacher after consulting relatives and others about it.
“We heard rave reviews” about Christ the Teacher, she said, including from her sister-in-law and Timothy’s brother who had a child enrolled there.
A Catholic school atmosphere was unfamiliar to Emma, who had been raised in England and attended a Protestant church school until the family moved to the United States when she was 10.
Her husband, however, went to the former Our Lady of Fatima School in New Castle and was well acquainted with a faith and values-based education, especially because his mother was a Catholic school teacher in the Diocese for 30 years.
The Hines are very happy with the schooling Easton receives at Christ the Teacher, “It’s a wonderful community,” she said. Easton “is a typical boy and he appreciates the social aspects. The education and the learning is wonderful. He has a blast there. He loves science, gym class. He’s going to play soccer for them this year.”
Sixth, seventh and eighth-graders get Google Chromebook laptops at Christ the Teacher, Hines added. “They’re very tech savvy.” That skill was helpful last semester when the school conducted classes by remote learning. That’s when classes were conducted online because of the COVID pandemic, and Hines said she found the teachers, who usually have 20 to 25 students in a class to be very involved in the “virtual” classrooms. She remarked how the teachers remained very accessible, taking questions from students during the unusual circumstances.
Hines said the stuff Easton was doing for classes during the remote learning was tough. “I’m certainly no teacher. It was an experience and we learned to do it. The access to the teachers was so good, we made it through.”
This coming fall semester, Hines said, Easton will have “half and half” in-classroom and virtual classes.
Christ the Teacher students will be on campus three days one week, and the next week, two days. The other school days will be conducted by virtual learning.
Emma said the family goes to Mass at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, which is adjacent to the school. She enjoys the whole church and school community and their events for families before the pandemic required social distancing. “There were wonderful family nights and meet your teacher nights,” she said.
Now, it’s the Hines who rave about the Christ the Teacher community. “It’s a great experience with a curriculum light years ahead of others.”
Emma said the help the family receives for Easton’s tuition through donations to the Diocese’s Share in the Spirit collection combined with funds held in the Vision for the Future Education Trust is “an unbelievable blessing.” The Hines first applied for the tuition aid few years ago after Emma lost her job.
“I would advise anyone to go to Christ the Teacher and advise anyone, if they have financial need, to apply through the Diocese for help. It’s been a miraculous thing for us and I would hope other people could get that help too.” It’s not a hard process; you complete the application then wait for the decision. We are extremely grateful to get this assistance; it’s been a real blessing.”