Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy is founded on the wisdom of the Church regarding both the purpose and practice of Christian education. Regarding its purpose, the Academy echoes the teaching of Pope Pius XI, who wrote:
“The proper and immediate end of Christian education is to cooperate with divine grace in forming the true and perfect Christian. Christian education takes in the whole aggregate of human life: physical, spiritual, intellectual, and moral, individual,domestic, and social, not with a view in reducing those in any way, but in order to elevate, regulate, and perfect them in accordance with the example and teaching of Our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The aim of Notre Dame de La Salette Boys Academy is the formation of perfect Christians; the scope of our educational system is the whole man.
In order to accomplish this end, Notre Dame de La Salette looks to the wisdom and experience of the great Catholic educators who have preceded us. Saint Ignatius of Loyola and his successors in the Jesuit order have left a legacy of what has been quite possibly the greatest educational system in the history of the world. They developed a very practical code for establishing and conducting schools which gives order, structure, unity, and methodology to education. It set up a framework, defined the educational aims, described arrangements of classes and schedules, and – notably – paid critical attention to the formation of teachers.
Teachers are the heart of the educational process: They are the ones with their hands on the clay, accomplishing the immediate formation of the students. Our teachers must draw from a strong interior life, moral strength, and sense of duty in order to remain faithful to their vocation as educators of Catholic young men; and Notre Dame de La Salette is committed to monitoring and nurturing these qualities in our staff.
The Jesuits had a very long-term vision for their educational apostolate, and they set about accomplishing it correctly rather than simply “patching up” in the here and now. La Salette seeks to give the same solid well-rounded and thoroughly Catholic foundation as well as a zealous commitment to excellence.
Our second model at La Salette is St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesians and advocate of the preventive over the repressive method of education. The repressive system forms souls by making known the law and applying stern warnings regarding its transgression. The teachers move about in their own sphere, making contact with the children only long enough to impose rules or administer discipline. It tends to be severe and detached. St. John Bosco, on the other hand, believed children were better directed by encouraging them to obedience by charity than by fear. He stated,
“An educator should realize that all these lads, or nearly all, are smart enough to sense the good done to them and are innately open to sentiments of gratitude. We must do our best to convince these boys through simple reasoning that gratitude to God means, concretely, carrying out His will and obeying His commandments.”
St. John Bosco wanted discipline to come from within rather than from without, and he believed this had to start with the teachers. Teachers who are disciplined themselves inspire the same in their charges. Teachers who love their students will find that charity reciprocated. Interaction, rapport, and leadership are necessary to conquer the hearts of our students. This is the legacy of St. John Bosco.
The sole ambition of Notre Dame de La Salette is to be a truly Catholic institution dedicated to the education, formation, and ultimately the salvation of the boys entrusted to it. It aims to form the whole man and his faculties so as to make these young men holy, well-educated, well-behaved, balanced, and skilled citizens of the City of God and the temporal city.
Christian education is not merely religious instruction tacked onto a formation otherwise secular. No — everything must be Catholic: the way of praying, the way of studying, the way of eating, the way of playing, et cetera.