First-graders at St. Bernadette School in Bellevue work with Jesus by their side, thanks to teacher Kathy Dostal’s reserving a chair for him at each table, complete with a laminated picture of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. PHOTO COURTESY OF ST. BERNADETTE SCHOOL

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With Jesus by their side

Walk into any classroom, and you will find enthusiastic students and teachers, books, pictures, computers and more. However, the one thing no Catholic school classroom can do without is Jesus.

At St. Bernadette School in Bellevue, first-grade teacher Kathy Dostal sets an extra chair at each table for Jesus (above). The students love knowing Jesus is right there with them throughout the day, she said. In fact, when she has to remove his picture to re-laminate it, the students talk about how much they miss him. Dostal credits the idea to the Evangelium Institute, which put on a retreat for the staff of St. Bernadette and the five other member schools of the Catholic School Consortium.

The ability to teach children the Good News of Jesus and to celebrate his presence with them in everything they do is at the core of Catholic education. That “Catholic difference” is what is recognized every year during Catholic Schools Week, this year, set for Jan. 30 through Feb. 5. Catholic schools throughout the Omaha archdiocese will celebrate the week with special events and activities, plus a Mass livestreamed from Omaha’s St. Cecilia Cathedral with Archbishop George J. Lucas Feb. 3 at 10 a.m.