April 16, 2021

Great-grandparents, vouchers help change the lives of three children

Evan and Jo Griffiths pose for a family photo with their three great-grandchildren, Mykiah, 16, Aidan, 14, and Lola, 13. Members of SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, the Griffiths were able to give their great-grandchildren a Catholic education at the parish school with the help of Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, more commonly known as the voucher program. (Submitted photo)

Evan and Jo Griffiths pose for a family photo with their three great-grandchildren, Mykiah, 16, Aidan, 14, and Lola, 13. Members of SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Parish in Greenwood, the Griffiths were able to give their great-grandchildren a Catholic education at the parish school with the help of Indiana’s Choice Scholarship Program, more commonly known as the voucher program. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Jo Griffiths cried when she received the news that she believed would make a dramatic change in the lives of her three great-grandchildren.

Actually, that change had begun years earlier when she and her husband Evan made a choice about the children.

When their granddaughter couldn’t take care of her three children—and no one else in the extended family stepped forward—the Griffiths chose to welcome the two girls and the boy permanently into their lives.

At that time about 13 years ago, Mykiah and Aidan were under the age of 4, and Lola was 9 months old.

“They don’t throw baby showers for great-grandparents,” Jo says with a laugh before turning serious. “We had to buy everything. We had to buy a bigger house and a family van.”

As Joe and Evan have worked to give their

great-grandchildren a better life, they have also found that their lives have been enriched.

“It was a lot to take on, but it’s been a blessing for everybody—for the kids, for us, for the family,” Jo says.

Still, there was one more blessing the Griffiths hoped to give their children—a Catholic school education.

Faced with other expenses, they initially sent Mykiah and Aidan to a public school. Yet when it was time for Mykiah to go to middle school, the Griffiths had concerns about the option awaiting her. So Jo made a call to SS. Francis and Clare of Assisi Catholic School in Greenwood to explore the cost for Mykiah to attend school there. That’s when the school’s principal Betty Popp invited Jo to visit the school.

“I could tell that they wanted a good school for Mykiah, but it would be a question of finances when they inquired about tuition,” Popp recalls. “Most always, I speak to people about the fact that every parent should have the ability to send their children to a Catholic school if they felt it was important.”

During the meeting, Popp mentioned Indiana’s educational voucher program that provides funds for economically qualified families to send their children to the school of their choice. Popp said she would not only check about that possibility for Mykiah, but Aidan and Lola, too.

A short while after that meeting, Popp told the Griffiths that with the help of vouchers and some additional assistance from the school, all three children could receive a Catholic education there.

“I cried,” Jo says. “It meant a lot for them to go to a Catholic school—the religion, the top-notch education, the spirituality. There’s a camaraderie there, and they’re implementing religion into everyday activities. They’re teaching about what’s right and wrong.

“There’s a secret sauce at SS. Francis and Clare, and maybe at all Catholic schools—the teachers, the atmosphere they create, the care and compassion, and the faith in God.”

Six years have passed since the three children started together at SS. Francis and Clare. Now, Mykiah is a junior at Martinsville High School, Aidan is a freshman at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, and Lola is a seventh-grade student at SS. Francis and Clare.

For all three of them, their great-grandparents see the impact that their years of Catholic education have had on their lives—and will continue to have in the future.

“They’ll all be able to go out in the world and have a successful life,” Jo Griffiths says. “They’re all talking college, and that’s part of the education in a Catholic school. They set higher standards, and they get more out of them. It’s been such a blessing.”

She has a similar regard for Indiana’s voucher program.

“We couldn’t give them a Catholic education without the vouchers. It provided an opportunity we wouldn’t have been able to give them at all.” †

 

Related story: In its 10th year, Indiana’s voucher program aids the dreams of Catholic school families

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