Why Does Central Catholic Have So Many Alumni Teachers?
By Milena Mataac '26
Has your teacher ever mentioned an experience they had when they were a student at CCHS? Have you seen pictures of your teachers wearing the Central Catholic uniform years ago? Have you noticed that many of your teachers' names have graduation years next to them on the website?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you have probably wondered: why is it that Central Catholic has so many alumni teachers? Factors including the positive relationships and the “family” environment here contribute to the explanation, but are there also disadvantages to this phenomenon?
At the outset, it is essential to know the facts. According to the Associate Director of Admissions at Central Catholic, Ms. Taylor Sacco, “about 40% of our Faculty & Staff are alumni of CCHS, St. Mary's, or PMA.” There are 127 faculty and staff members at Central Catholic, meaning that 51 of them are graduates of the school. In comparison, about 9.6% of faculty members at Austin Prep are alumni, 6% at Bishop Fenwick High School, and 4.4% at Phillips Academy Andover. In other words, Central Catholic has a considerably higher percentage of alumni faculty members than many other private schools in the area.
Why is that?
Reason #1: Welcoming Environment
The first and most important reason that so many graduates return to Central Catholic as teachers and staff is the welcoming “family” environment that CCHS is well-known for.
Ms. Lanie Jowett (at left), a teacher from the Science Department and member of the Central Catholic graduating class of 2012, summarized this idea, stating that “Central Catholic is truly a special place that many kids call home during their time here.” The kind and friendly environment at CCHS leaves a lasting impact on its students for their entire lives.
For many alumni teachers, including Mr. Robert Benedetto (pictured below) of the Science Department and Central Catholic class of 1989, “coming back here to teach [was] like coming home” because of the supportive and nurturing nature of the school. Throughout four years of academics, sports, and other extracurricular activities, students at CCHS can build relationships with peers, teachers, and coaches that last a lifetime.
New teachers to the school, including Mrs. Rebekah Miner (English Department, at right), immediately notice the warm and welcoming community that is unique to this school. In Mrs. Miner’s first week teaching here, she was impressed that the “faculty and staff here really do care about each other and about the school” and work to “foster a positive learning (and working) environment.”
As emphasized during the admissions process, CCHS certainly has an incredible family atmosphere which makes it “an enjoyable place to work and a special place to be a part of,” according to Ms. Jowett. Furthermore, both alumni teachers interviewed on this topic agreed that they have no desire to teach anywhere other than Central Catholic because they feel like they truly belong here. This friendly environment is a major reason why so many CCHS teachers are alumni of the school.
Reason #2: Positive Relationships
Positive relationships between students and faculty/staff also explain the unusually high percentage of faculty alumni. According to Mr. Benedetto, his experience at CCHS made him love coming to school when he had previously hated it. He says, “the relationships formed here as students, between students and teachers, … are fairly unique” in terms of the abundance of positive connections. Central Catholic encourages its students to build strong relationships with other students and with teachers and coaches as well, allowing students to gain a mastery of interpersonal skills that students of other schools may not attain if their school does not foster these types of relationships.
According to Ms. Jowett, each of these teachers and coaches “take pride in [their] students, athletes, and each other,” and the students can certainly see this in everyday life here at CCHS.
Another contributor to the positive experience at the school is the diversity of students. Students at this school come from a myriad of different cultural, religious, and economic backgrounds, which creates a rich student body. As Ms. Jowett says, this “unforgettable experience filled with a lot of friendships and special relationships” helps break down social barriers between students of different backgrounds.
While this phenomenon is certainly advantageous in many ways, there are also potential downsides of having so many alumni at our school. After interviewing four teachers at the school, some potential problems with having such a large percentage of the alumni school faculty present themselves.
First, having so many teachers who attended CCHS means that a large portion of the faculty come from similar academic backgrounds, which, as Mr. Benedetto stated, “could prevent [the teachers] from looking at things in many different ways.” Additionally, Ms. Jowett pointed out that the alumni faculty may be “so comfortable with ‘[their] way’ that [they] may be less open to changing [their] ways as teachers and/or coaches.”
Mr. Ronald Russo, a teacher from the Religious Studies Department pictured below, added that a large number of alumni teachers could cause a “blindness to try new things” because of the comfort the teachers feel with the ideas and traditions they are already familiar with from having attended and worked at CCHS. In support of this idea, Mrs. Miner mentioned how it’s benefited her to have attended and taught at public high schools because she’s had, “first hand experience with schools that have a different tone or atmosphere.”
Because it is essential that a school’s faculty have a wide variety of ideas, approaches, and perspectives, a school like CCHS with such a substantial percentage of teachers who are alumni must remain vigilant in not becoming too set in its ways.
Despite these disadvantages however, all of the teachers interviewed agree that it is mostly beneficial to have a large portion of the faculty be graduates of the school. Teachers who graduated from CCHS may be better able to relate to the things current students are experiencing because they had a similar experience when they attended the school. Additionally, having these alumni teachers, as Mr. Benedetto stated, “creates a continuity for the student body … As much as things have changed [at Central Catholic], so much of the core is still the same,” and the values at the school have been consistent.
The teachers strive to carry on the traditions that our school takes pride in. Ms. Jowett noted that it was “important that [she] knew the systems of CCHS already and could use [her] own experience to help them” as she began teaching last year. Alumni teachers are beneficial to CCHS because they are able to pass on the “Marist family spirit,” as Mr. Russo calls it, to the next generation of Central Catholic students.
So, the question “why does Central Catholic have so many alumni teachers?” can be explained by the welcoming environment for both teachers and students and the positive relationships students form in all areas of student life here at CCHS (academic, extracurricular, and social). Some potential downsides to this phenomenon do exist: a lack of diverse academic backgrounds may hinder the development of new ideas and perspectives. However, this phenomenon is also very beneficial because it allows the school’s values and traditions to continue to live on in the faculty and student body.
“It speaks volumes … that so many alumni return to teach and/or coach at Central,” says Ms. Jowett. This is a sentiment which resonates with many students and faculty at Central Catholic. One can really get a sense of the quality of the school by how many students want to return, and it is striking how many students learn to call this school their home throughout their four years here. If a school is able to create an environment where so many feel at home, then it is no wonder that so many Central Catholic faculty and staff are also alumni.