When the popular television show, “The Balancing Act,” recently tackled the topic, “What to consider when choosing a private school,” the insights and experiences that were shared came from four people connected to a Catholic school in the Diocese of Trenton.

During two segments that aired Aug. 20 and Aug. 21, Kevin Donahue, principal in St. Benedict School, along with Father Garry Koch, pastor of St. Benedict Parish; school parent, Lori Ulrich, and teacher, Megan Gallagher, offered perspectives on how the Holmdel-based Catholic school helps to nurture well-rounded students.

“Here at St. Benedict’s, we want to teach the whole person,” Donahue said of the pre-K3 through eighth grade school. “We want to teach academically as well as socially, emotionally, spiritually and athletically.

“Here we’re looking to create productive members of society and productive members of the Catholic Church,” Donahue said.

In his interview, Father Koch reflected on the importance of making a religious connection to education. “It’s a rich part of our human history,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to understand the fullness of history and the development of how humanity has emerged and how our modern culture exists without understanding the religious dimension of humanity.”

When describing the approach that St. Benedict School takes to educate its students, Father Koch used the word ‘unique.” He then went on to cite as one example the 7,000 square-foot outdoor learning center that was created on the school campus a few years ago. The learning center allows students to participate in various types of science projects such as harvesting and planting and learn how to care for creation through hands-on activities.

A greater appreciation for the learning center by the school community developed during the pandemic where the outdoor environment allowed the students and their teachers to hold multiple classes in a safe and socially-distanced environment.

As a school parent, Ulrich said that she and her husband were led to send their children to St. Benedict School knowing its reputation of having a strong academic and faith-based curriculum as well as a healthy offering of activities and involvement in community service.

“Once I felt St. Benedict School checked all those boxes, there was no need for us to look anywhere else,” Ulrich recalled. Now with two daughters in high school, Ulrich acknowledged St. Benedict School as providing them with a “solid foundation.”

Gallagher echoed similar sentiments when she said that “St. Benedict School gives our students a foundation for life.”

Before joining the faculty, Gallagher was an active school parent who was involved with the PTA and school board. Her interest, however, was further piqued when she learned the school was beginning a new pre-K program and she applied for a position as a preK teacher. During the past several years, the preK program has grown significantly, and proudly noted that it currently has three pre-K4 classes and two pre-K3 classes.

Even at their young ages, values are instilled in the students and they learn about kindness, sharing and what it means to love one another, she said.