Having a new or updated school facility is an asset to any community.

A little more than 10 years ago St. Francis Xavier Elementary added eight new classrooms, an art room, additional office space, a nurse’s station and atrium to the existing facility, which has enhanced the teaching and learning environment for our faculty and students.

There is no doubt that new and updated facilities at Xavier, along with premier technology, new textbooks and science materials, have elevated student learning. However, there is no asset more valuable to a child’s education than the teachers and staff they learn from and encounter on a daily basis.

As a matter of fact, research shows that teachers matter more to student achievement than any other aspect of schooling.

In a time when the state of Iowa is experiencing a teacher shortage due to fewer college students enrolling in elementary and high school education programs, many schools struggle to fill teaching positions and retain teachers.

At St. Francis Xavier we have been blessed, as we have been able to hire and retain extraordinary, Catholic school teachers. The vast majority of our teaching staff have been educating and forming our students in their faith for more than 10, 20 and 30 years.

Hiring and keeping excellent teachers at Xavier is critical in helping create and maintain a healthy and positive school culture.

And, because of the amount of time they have invested in our school, Xavier teachers truly understand our mission: to cultivate the full potential of each student academically, spiritually, and personally, and to strive, lead, and serve as Disciples of Christ.

Getting teachers to commit and invest in the Catholic culture of Xavier and our mission statement is not a difficult task, as more than half of our teaching staff once attended Xavier Elementary or one of our other Spires of Faith Cluster Catholic elementary schools that are now closed.

And almost every remaining teacher has received a Catholic education at some level or another.

Having a veteran staff at Xavier allows for opportunities to develop strong professional and personal relationships, which creates a comfort level for sharing ideas, supporting one another in their teaching profession, and helping each other grow in their faith.

This type of stability among our Xavier teachers is truly a benefit for our students who learn in a stable environment from teachers who have formed a nurturing community.