Last week, we were greeted with the dispiriting news that the Jubilee Network Schools in Memphis was disbanding and closing the doors of its 9 inner-city schools. Catholic schools will now have 1,500 less students. Instead of dwelling on this news, it’s time to focus our attention on schools which have bucked the national trend and turned around their fortunes.
To celebrate Catholic Schools Week, I’m offering five podcasts this week revealing the stories of Catholic Turnaround Schools. I asked superintendents last summer to nominate schools who were on the chopping block 5-10 years ago but have overcome the odds to rebuild their sustainability. They are now on much firmer foundation for a variety of reasons.
On Monday, January 29th, I’ll talk to the principal and a major donor from Holy Rosary Regional School-Juan Diego Academy in Tacoma. Seven years ago, the enrollment had dipped below 80 students in K-8. The school decided to embark on a transformative project to establish a Two-Way Immersion school. The enrollment is now 215 and climbing!
On Tuesday, I’ll talk to Jason Garza, the principal of St. Helen’s School in Fresno. The Diocese of Fresno announced that the school would close in the spring of 2017. Through hard work and constant fundraising, the school was able to raise over $400,000 to keep the school open.
On Wednesday, I’ll talk to Carrie Donahue, the principal of Presentation of Our Lady School in Sacramento. The school secured the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and transformed their Catholic Identity. This transformation has led to increased enrollment and changed its fortunes.
On Thursday, I’ll talk to Martin Flaherty, the principal of Holy Family Catholic School in Des Moines. This inner-city school is filled with immigrants and first-generation Americans. Through a concerted fund-raising effort, the school secures a brighter future for its students.
On Friday, I’ll talk to Mike Domico, the principal of St. Edward’s Catholic School in Chillicothe, Illinois. The Diocese announced that the school would close due to low enrollment a failing physical plant. Domico was able to lead an impromptu fundraising effort in a very short time to reopen the school in very short order.
Enjoy the stories of the good news happening in Catholic schools. Below are relevant links to the great stories airing on the podcast.
- History of Holy Rosary parish
- Article covering the removal of pavement at the school to make way for green space
- February 2013 article covering the transformation of the school
Link to St. Helen’s (Fresno) website
- Article announcing St. Helen’s closing in March of 2017 and a video story
- GoFundMe site raising money for the school
- Article/video announcing the re-opening of the school in August 2017
Link to Presentation’s (Sacramento) website. Link to the story of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
Link to Holy Family School (Des Moines).
- Great story about how tax credits benefit Holy Family’s students—especially immigrants from South Sudan.
- Heartbreaking story about the death of one of Holy Family’s parents last year which illustrates the community and how the school is a gateway to the American dream.
Link to St. Edward’s (Chillicothe, IL) website
- Article announcing the closure of St. Edward’s in July 2016
- Article announcing the re-opening of school in new location in August 2016
- Article/video announcing the reopening of St. Edward’s in January 2017
My Top 5:
Happy Catholic Schools Week! To celebrate I am presenting five new podcasts this week focusing on 5 five turnaround Catholic schools. This week’s top 5:
- I’ve included links to the turnaround schools and a few articles about this schools. They are amazing stories. Clearly, there is no silver bullet to turn around every Catholic school’s fortunes. But you’ll be inspired by the efforts!
- However, school closing announcements have been pouring in. It’s important to read these stories because there are still people out who aren’t woke to our reality. We have to help people understand that innovative approaches are necessary. This section can be found after the American Catholic News section.
- Speaking of which, look no further than the first article in the American Catholic News section by Partnership School’s Kathleen Porter-Magee’s essay “To Spark a Catholic School Renaissance, We Need to Put Our Faith in Autonomous School Networks” is a must read.
- I recommend the article by HBR on Customer Service in the Leadership section. Sure, it’s common sense to pick up the phone and call parents to hear their concerns. But it’s not common! I’ve heard of principals who call a set of families every Friday to check in. Not email. Not letters and memos. Phone calls.
- It’s Oscar season so enjoy this article on Lady Bird’s creator and her affinity for Catholic schools.
Have a great week celebrating Catholic schools!