How Catholic Educators Can Allocate Their EANS II Funding

Education is in fact the primary vehicle of integral human development, for it makes individuals free and responsible…The pandemic prevented many young people from attending school to the detriment of their personal and social development.” – Pope Francis, Address to the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, January 10, 2022

Whenever federal funds are made available to schools, questions inevitably follow. This article is intended to help Catholic schools determine how to spend their Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) allocations responsibly and effectively to help both students and teachers.

What Principals Should Consider Before Spending EANS II Funds

When contemplating how principals can effectively use their EANS II funding once it’s available, it is helpful to reflect on the last two years. The impact of COVID-19 has caused students across the globe to feel the effects of learning loss, coupled with an increase in behavioral issues, both of which teachers and school leaders have been trying to address in an increasingly stressful environment. Education leaders should seriously consider focusing their EANS funds on addressing these challenges:

  • Learning loss:  By using EANS II funds on targeted academic interventions as well as accelerated learning programs such as High-Dosage Tutoring, Catholic schools can not only address any learning loss that occurred throughout the pandemic, but they’re also able to expedite learning to close the achievement gaps and ensure students are where they need to be academically.
  • Behavior challenges: Individual and family counseling, as well as programs that focus on social-emotional learning (SEL) and health, are effective ways to provide support to students with behavioral challenges. These include conflict resolution skills, emotional regulation, empathy, and healthy lifestyle habits.
  • Teacher support and retention through professional development: In addition to providing instructional support and coaching on how to implement accelerated learning and differentiated instruction, professional development programs can assist teachers with social-emotional learning, trauma-informed practices, and cultural competence in the classroom—all especially relevant topics in today’s education landscape. Research indicates that teachers who participate in high quality professional development are more likely to persevere in their teaching careers.

How You Can Responsibly Spend Your Catholic Schools’ EANS Funds

While Catholic schools’ needs and priorities differ at an individual level, most schools are experiencing challenges like those mentioned above. EANS II funds can be used for a range of programs and services designed to resolve the issues of learning loss, behavioral disruptions, and teacher burnout. Every state and school will receive varying amounts of funding, but if you’re looking for ways to address COVID-induced academic and behavioral issues in the classroom, there are several programs from which most Catholic schools can greatly benefit through EANS funding. Among these are:

  • Coaching and Professional Development

Desired outcome: To support educators and promote behaviors intended to increase and maintain student achievement.

Now is the time to restart and reimagine school. Whether you’re looking to build teacher capacity within the classroom, help instructors grow through coaching, create a more positive classroom environment, increase the leadership capacity and empowerment of principals and administrators, or improve overall school outcomes, investing a portion of your EANS funding in professional development services and programs can pay dividends down the road.

How Catapult Learning can help: Through our research-based Professional Development and Coaching services, we can support your school communities in the most critical areas of need, all with a focus on creating equitable, rigorous, safe, and supportive learning environments that meet the needs of all learners. Consistent attention to these mission-critical components of Catholic school culture helps school communities thrive, grow, adapt, and succeed.

  • Social-Emotional Learning and Support

Desired outcome: To expand students’ 21st-century skills in critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and empathy—all necessary for success in college, careers, and beyond.

Social-emotional learning has taken on more importance and relevance than ever before and ensuring the emotional and mental well-being of your students and their families—especially during this pandemic age—is a top priority for Catholic schools across the country. Research shows that an education that promotes SEL positively impacts academic performance, healthy relationships, mental wellness, and more. Using a portion of your EANS funding on SEL programming can, therefore, make a significant difference in your classrooms and do so in a manner consistent with the goals and values of Catholic school education.

How Catapult Learning can help: Our SEL programming is based on the understanding that the best learning emerges because of supportive relationships that make learning challenging, engaging, and meaningful. Our programs and services, such as Counseling, Family Engagement, and Professional Development, teach students the critical skills they need for future success.

  •  High-Dosage Tutoring and Intervention

Desired outcome: To accelerate learning in literacy and math for all K-12 students through frequent, intensive, small-group or 1:1 instruction. Take advantage of the limited window to close the gap on student learning and bring them to appropriate grade level proficiency.

Perhaps the most urgent challenge is that COVID-19 has left millions of students behind in school academically, and the longer that learning gap remains unaddressed the more difficult it will be to close and get students back on track academically, socially, and emotionally.

Research has shown that intensive supplemental learning closes the learning gaps much more quickly than through simple remediation. Literacy and math intervention programs are an effective way to narrow those gaps. When coupled with a tutoring program, learning becomes even more efficient and effective.

How Catapult Learning can help: Our reading/literacy and math interventions and High-Dosage Tutoring programs use highly structured, intensive instruction in small groups to reinforce grade-level content and support struggling learners so they can quickly close learning gaps before they become unmanageable.

  • Summer Learning

Desired outcome: To address the academic, social, and emotional needs of your students and their families during the summer, through robust educational opportunities and engaging activities, while preparing them for the fall.

Summer learning programs are among the most effective ways to mitigate learning loss, so students are prepared to start the new school year on track. These programs offer parents the opportunity to keep their children engaged in school and to receive the academic, social, and emotional support that may otherwise not be available at a time when schools are closed.

How Catapult Learning can help: Our turnkey Summer Journey learning programs are designed not only to mitigate summer and COVID learning loss, but also to support students and their families throughout the summer months. Summer Journey incorporates elements such as SEL learning, STEM learning, literacy and math intervention, enrichment, and family support to create a holistic program that sets children up for success.

Perhaps most beneficial to schools is that all accelerated learning programs and the components—academic intervention, High-Dosage Tutoring, SEL learning, Professional Development and Coaching, and Summer Learning—can be tailored to your Catholic schools’ specific needs. This ensures that your EANS funding is addressing your schools’ particular areas of opportunity. Catapult Learning’s EANS funding experts are ready to assist you in getting the most out of your EANS dollars by addressing your school’s most critical needs and personalizing our services to fit those needs.

Sadlier Celebrates Catholic Schools

Celebrate Catholic Schools Week
An annual tradition since 1974, Catholic schools across the nation commemorate Celebrate Catholic Schools Week with celebrations, Masses, open houses, and activities for students, families, parishioners, and community members. These events showcase and celebrate the rich traditions and the incredible value of Catholic education on both a local and national level. Each year, Celebrate Catholic Schools Week is celebrated during the last week of January. This year, Celebrate Catholic Schools Week will be celebrated from January 30 through February 5, 2022.

Cause for Celebration
According to NCEA, there are nearly 6,000 Catholic schools nationwide. These schools—serving elementary, middle, and secondary school students—are located across all regions, giving many families the opportunity for accessible Catholic education, which has many benefits, including:

  • The integration of faith with academic subjects, culture, and everyday life
  • The emphasis of living out the faith as missionary disciples
  • Catholic virtues and values and Catholic Social Teaching, which contribute to productive citizenship and responsible leadership
  • An environment that encourages and nurtures prayer and is safe, welcoming, and supportive for children
  • A favorable student-to-teacher ratio
  • High graduation and college attendance rates
  • Teacher commitment.

Each year, Celebrate Catholic Schools Week has a theme. The theme for this year is Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service. Within the overarching theme for Celebrate Catholic Schools Week, there are also daily themes, focusing on a particular celebration.

Celebrating Your Parish on Sunday
On the opening day of Catholic Schools Week, many parishes devote a Mass to Catholic education. These celebrations show the connection between Catholic schools and parishes and reflect the support and guidance parishes provide. Families and catechists can prepare children and students for this Mass by reflecting with them on the support they witness through the assembly of school, Church, and community. Students can be reminded that Catholic school students, families, and supporters are gatherings all over the country as they are beginning Celebrate Catholic Schools Week at Mass in their own parishes!

Celebrating Your Community on Monday
On Monday, the daily theme focuses on service to the community. When students participate in school, parish, or community events, they have the opportunity to live out their faith and embody the values they are acquiring through their Catholic education, all the while helping to make the world a better place.

Celebrating Your Students on Tuesday
Help students understand their roles in Catholic education by recognizing their accomplishments. Consider a fun school-wide gathering that celebrates student or class achievements in relation to the theme of Catholic Schools: Faith. Excellence. Service. Bring to light the differences students can make as they learn in faith, strive for excellence, and serve in their schools, communities, and the world.

Celebrating the Nation on Wednesday
On Wednesday, the focus of Catholic Schools Week shifts from the local to the national level and provides an opportunity to express to government leaders the value and importance of Catholic education.

Celebrating Vocations on Thursday
On Thursday, a focus on vocations helps students recognize and use their God-given talents and be open to God’s call in their lives. Opportunities to reflect, with a focus on service and vocations, lets students consider and explore paths where they may use their gifts and talents to serve God and others.

Celebrating Faculty, Staff, and Volunteers on Friday
During Catholic Schools Week, Friday is an opportunity to show appreciation to the teachers, principals, administrators, and faculty who dedicate their time and talent to Catholic schools. A prayer of thanksgiving and a heartfelt “thank you” allows students to express their gratitude to those who have chosen to follow God’s call in the field of Catholic education.

Celebrating Families on Saturday
Catholic Schools Week concludes on Saturday with a focus on family. Families play active and vital roles in Catholic education. Families also provide a child’s first introduction to the faith and continued faith formation as the domestic Church. On Saturday, families are celebrated and appreciated for their love, faith, partnership, and example.

A Resource to Support Your Celebration
Let the Catholic Schools Week Daily Activity Guide help you incorporate daily themes suggestions into your observation of Celebrate Catholic Schools Week! With this resource, you can kick off Catholic Schools Week with a thematic opening prayer service and then find suggestions for focusing your celebrations on the daily themes throughout the week. Sadlier honors and celebrates Catholic Schools for their valuable work and contribution to the Church and the world.

By the Grace of the Holy Spirit: Working in Partnership with Parents

The following blog was contributed by Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling author and consultant.

It’s been a meaningful and extraordinary year. While we’ve been tested in ways that none of us, even at our most imaginative, could have ever anticipated, I’ve also seen the Holy Spirit at work in our Catholic schools more this year than any other.

Over the last two decades, I’ve had the honor of meeting many of you, either at convention, or because I visited your schools to do anti-bullying work. I’m always moved and inspired by how much you give of yourselves every day and the sacrifices you make for your students.

I know there were moments this year that that sacrifice seemed larger, yet you still kept going, guided by a light within that nothing could extinguish. I saw The Holy Spirit in action at every school that I visited. I saw it in the courage of superintendents who made tough decisions despite feeling like no matter what they did someone wouldn’t be happy; in the patience of principals who found joy in every day even when they were being pummeled by divisiveness in their communities. I saw it in the sense of humor of teachers who rather than giving into frustration, hunkered down and found new ways to connect with students. I saw it in the smiles of beleaguered, over-worked office secretaries who never lost their warmth or compassion, in the resolve of school nurses and counselors who refused to let anything, not even a pandemic, get in the way of their ability to serve. I saw The Holy Spirit smiling through all of you even when your hearts were heavy and I want to thank you for reminding me and everyone whose lives you touch, that with faith, we got this.

One of my greatest privileges when I’m on the road is being able to listen to your stories and learn about you, your schools and your needs. Almost all of you have had challenges with parents, and I thought this might be a good time, as we begin reflecting during the holiest of holidays, to offer some insights.

  • When A Person Is Scared, They Act Out.

If you can tell yourself that the parent who keeps testing your patience is driven by fear, a feeling of a lack of control and that it isn’t personal, it will help you to have compassion for them, the first and most important step in breaking down barriers.

  • Expectation Management Is Important for Building Trust.

To work effectively in partnership with a parent, everyone needs to be on the same page about communication and follow-up. For example, if you’ve come up with a plan of action together, discuss and agree upon a timeline for the implementation and be specific about what you expect of each other including how often you’ll update one another on progress and how. Then, document it in a concise memo that you can both work from moving forward. It’s best to bullet the action items and clearly indicate who’s doing what. The updates can be done a number of ways, but I think the most efficient is to simply add them to the original memo and highlight and date each new entry. The documentation process will make the parent feel more in control and provide a guidepost for you and them.

  • What To Do If a Parent or Group of Parents Are Using Social Media Platforms in Ways That Are Hurtful or Unproductive.

Do not engage the parent publicly online as this is only likely to accelerate the issue.  Instead, message them privately, acknowledge that you hear how upset they are, and suggest talking things through over the phone or in person/via Zoom. When you do have that conversation, don’t interrupt or become defensive. Listen and then share your honest thoughts. Often, just letting someone talk and feel heard will dissipate enough of the tension to redirect the dialogue in a more positive direction. 

  • The Ongoing Importance of Self-Care. 

Be good to yourself.  Reward yourself. Make time for the things that bring you joy and refresh and rejuvenate your spirit. The more you treat yourself with patience, compassion and love, the more you’ll have to give at school. Self-care isn’t an indulgence; it’s an act of wisdom.


About the Author

Jodee Blanco is the author of the seminal New York Times bestseller Please Stop Laughing at Me and anti-bullying’s first voice. Dioceses turn to her regularly for professional development and to implement her anti-bullying program in their schools. Jodee is the author of a series of books for the NCEA and a content provider for The Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education at Loyola University in the areas of anti-bullying and governance. She also consults for schools and dioceses on enlightened parent communication practices and Catholic values-based crisis management. For more information, please visit: https://www.jodeeblanco.com/catholic-schools/.


Jodee’s Publications with NCEA:

Laudato Si’ Action Platform Launches with Leadership from NCEA

The following blog was contributed by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

On the World Day of Prayer for the Poor, November 14, the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development launched the next phase of the Laudato Si’ Action Platform. NCEA has played a key role in its development as a member of the Ecological Education working group.

There are several options for starting a business in the States. The first two are designed for foreigners, and the third, rather, for residents. Let’s talk briefly about each of them. If for woodworking business the last three years you have been holding the position of a manager (top manager, leading specialist) of a successfully operating commercial enterprise for more than a year and you have subordinates, you can get a nonimmigrant work visa. This is called a multinational executive transfer. It is issued for 5 or 7 years. But keep in mind that your American company is required to do business similar to that which you have done so successfully in your home country. Perhaps the most expensive business opening in the United States. Investor visas (E-2, EB-5) are not available to everyone, but only to citizens of those countries with which the United States has an agreement. Among them are Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, etc. (Russia is not included in this list). A complete list can be found here. The amount of investment is not officially regulated and is considered separately in each specific case, but usually it is from $ 100,000 to $ 500,000 minimum. You can buy both a turnkey business and a franchise.

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform is a key Vatican initiative to empower the universal Church to achieve total sustainability in the holistic spirit of integral ecology. The human family faces increasing risks of hunger, disease, migration and conflict due to climate change and environmental degradation, unfortunately, the most vulnerable suffer above all.

The Laudato Si’ Action Platform provides practical tools to address this socio-ecological crisis. By committing to creating a Laudato Si’ Plan, NCEA members can access free resources to evaluate where they stand on the road to sustainability, reflect on the principles of integral ecology and make a plan to take action.

Over the past year, NCEA has helped shape both the model and the content for this program. Through deep and sustained conversations with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and a global network of partners, the Holy Spirit has created a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, a shared space for action that offers new momentum to urgently address our socio-ecological crisis.

We invite you and all members of the universal Church to join us and the Vatican on this Laudato Si’ journey. Find out more at www.laudatosiactionplatform.org

How Catholic Schools are Strategizing to Address Learning Loss

The following blog was contributed by FACTS Education Solutions in Lincoln, NE.

Год пролетел так быстро. Прежде чем вы это узнаете, снова наступит сезон отпусков. Хотя еще может быть немного рано ставить елку, никогда не рано подумать, что вы хотите на Рождество. Некоторым членам семьи нравится начинать делать покупки пораньше, поэтому вам, возможно, придется найти ответ, чтобы дать «Тайный Санта»: подарки всем вашим близким, кто спрашивает. Я не знаю, чего хочу на Рождество. Обрезанный вид красивой женщины, держащей рождественский подарок. Не расстраивайтесь, если не знаете, чего хотите на Рождество. Спрашивать людей о том, чего вы хотите и в чем нуждаетесь, может быть неудобно. Просто помните, что ваши близкие просят, потому что они будут счастливы сделать ваше Рождество особенным. Существует множество подарков, которые легко найти, но они могут быть личными или даже полезными. В зависимости от ваших интересов и стиля вы всегда можете найти ответы на популярный сезонный вопрос.

With the recent pandemic shining a bright light on increased, evolving student needs in the areas of literacy, mathematics, and social-emotional learning/educating the whole child, educators know how critical it is to have access to tools and resources that support the health, wellness, and academic achievement of everyone within their school community.

While administrators and leaders find themselves stretched-thin managing the continued and ever-changing challenges brought on by COVID, they have also been blessed with the largest financial opportunity in history to invest in their teachers through relief funding sources like ESSER and EANS. So, just what are Catholic schools across the country doing with these funds – and Title II-A funds – to maximize use and effectiveness to address needs across all levels of PK-12 education?

In the summer of 2021, teachers at three schools in Miami, Florida – Immaculata – La Salle High School, St. John Neumann High School, and St. Bonaventure Catholic School – outlined strategic professional development plans, starting with an intensive review of their current curriculums. Grade level teams and departments dedicated one to two weeks to the process, with an initial review and realignment of standards, to focus instruction on learning loss. With guidance and support from FACTS Ed onsite and virtual content experts, the schools will continue their work through 2023 to monitor progress, review data, and brainstorm additional solutions. Ongoing collaboration – through PD sessions, webinars, pop-up coaching, PLCs, and department meetings – is designed to ensure teachers and leaders are supported and successful throughout all stages of planning, redevelopment, and implementation. (As a bonus, teachers were eligible to receive stipends for their summer work!)

Alishea Jurado, Ed.D., dean of innovation from Immaculata – La Salle High School shared about their school’s strategy:

“FACTS Ed was instrumental in helping us develop a PD program targeting the specific needs of our teachers in preparing to return to school for the 2021-2022 school year. Working together, we developed Curriculum Realignment Week, a week in the summer where teachers met within both their department and grade-level groups to reevaluate curriculum to support students returning from virtual and hybrid learning. In addition, we were able to focus even more on intentionally embedding SEL activities into curriculum to help support our students. Teachers who participated in this PD opportunity shared they felt more prepared to start the next school year in comparison to other years, left with practical ideas, strategies, and tools to implement, deepened their relationships with their colleagues, and they felt better prepared to meet the social-emotional needs of their students.”

We know that outlining a strategic/PD plan can be time consuming, so other schools like Immaculata – La Salle High School are using FACTS Ed’s customizable PD packages as the launch point for the process. Because research shows that professional development training should be at least fourteen (14) hours to influence instruction, the packages (see examples listed below) offer flexible solutions that allow leaders to select the delivery model(s) (onsite, virtual, on-demand, coaching, etc.) and schedule(s) that best meet their needs (we facilitated remote and on-demand PD sessions to over 24,000 educators throughout the pandemic). Our network of expert facilitators and valuable partners like Kognito (SEL), LMU iDEAL (Blended Learning/STEM), help us to maintain exceptional Net Promotor Scores and remain hyper-focused on our mission: to change the trajectory of a child’s life.

Sample Packages:

  • Addressing Learning Loss
  • Curriculum Implementation
  • Redevelopment of Instructional Plans
  • Social Emotional Learning and Trauma-Informed Instruction (Kognito)
  • System-or School-wide Programs (LMU iDeal: Blended Learning-STEM)
  • Teacher and Leader Formation
  • Understanding Data and Using it to Improve Teaching and Learning

Visit FACTS Ed’s Professional Development page to learn more.

Growing Leadership in Catholic Schools

The following blog was contributed by Kathy Mears of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes and from all types of backgrounds. In Catholic education, we are seeking diversity. We are seeking leaders who look more like the students we are serving.

This particular initially can display as issues with puncture, and later, issues with sexual arousal levels, more details. The very effects that man sexuality can be a natural, natural drive, a orderly collection of built-in events in which culminate within orgasm this provides the same for those times as well as for all people, uninfluenced by simply class or perhaps culture is within itself a artifact associated with past as well as present perceptive traditions within Western Culture, click to read more. For the first time, any team associated with researchers finds a specific invest the human genome that increases a person’s probability of erectile dysfunction.

As the immigrants who came from Western Europe discovered in the 1800’s, this vast country of ours holds much promise and hope. Now as we welcome those from Central and South America, Asia and Europe, Catholics in the United States understand that our Church will be enriched and grow because of our fellow disciples from around the world. 

Identifying and supporting new leaders is something NCEA takes very seriously.  Working with the University of Notre Dame, NCEA is a part of LEAD: Latino Educator and Administrator Development program. The goal of LEAD is to strengthen the Latino voice in both individual classrooms and schools. This initiative is designed to invite, advance and retain Latino educators in Catholic schools, as well as develop a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges that exist in this landscape.

This past week, I was invited to participate in the project and to meet in person members of our first cohort. I was so inspired by their dedication to their students, to our faith and the Church. Their desire to lead in our classrooms and schools was strong and gave me much hope for the future of Catholic education because the passion and love that they showed for the work ahead.

Students in our schools deserve to learn from people who look like them. They need to know that all people have opportunities to serve and lead and that people who look like them are leaders, are teachers, are principals, are disciples of Jesus. 

NCEA is committed to support and to help develop the skills, knowledge and talents of all people who want to serve God by serving others in our Catholic schools. We know that there is much work and the laborers are few, but we know that as people who are passionate about children and our faith step forward, we will be successful in developing our students into saints and scholars.

Education Law Symposium 2021 Round-Up

The 19th annual Education Law Symposium (July 7 – 8), sponsored jointly by Loyola Marymount University School of Education Center for Catholic Education and the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), found 200-plus online participants engaged in learning with some of the nation’s top experts on Catholic school legal issues. Based on a post-symposium survey, the symposium was very well received with nearly 100 percent of attendees saying it was good to excellent.

The Planet Hollywood Casino Hotel has earned its popularity due to the vast majority of visitors during their visit. Planet Hollywood is a real paradise for video slots lovers. On the pin up territory of the complex there are 2,100 slot machines from the world’s leading manufacturers. As for table games, fans of this gambling format can choose one of 95 tables. You can test your intuition with the help of bets on the results of sports competitions, as well as take part in a poker tournament (World Series of Poker – WSOP), apply for participation in advance. In the list of available tabletop entertainments, along with card games, there is craps. Within walking distance there is a large number of restaurants offering menus of American cuisine and other countries of the world.

Session topics included:

  • Pandemic and post-pandemic realities for educators
  • Medical issues as students and staff return to in-person learning
  • Friend and fundraising in these times
  • Technology and legal realities
  • How to create an inclusive environment
  • Custody issues
  • Handbooks
  • School safety
  • Issues from the field
  • What beginning teachers need to know

Sister Dale McDonald, PBVM, Ph.D., NCEA Director of Public Policy and Educational Research, presented her always popular policy and legislative update, including information on current Supreme Court rulings as related to Catholic schools, COVID-19 funding availability and guidelines, Title funding, and much more.

A live panel of attorneys enabled participants to ask questions directly of practicing attorneys.

Current issues of interest were: returning to normal in a new normal, whether to require vaccinations of employees and students, documentation of vaccinations, sanitation requirements, handbook updates, emerging issues with child custody and how to meet the needs of students with learning differences. Issues of finance and tuition collection emerge even more strongly in the light of so many lost jobs and poverty spurred on by the pandemic. 

I was struck by the desire of Catholic administrators and teachers to remain true to the Gospel mandates, even in light of such trying times. We are certainly striving to “Teach as Jesus Did.”

It is not too late to sign up to experience the 2021 Education Law Symposium virtually for only $69. Full access to the sessions and prayers is available through August 8.

Mark your calendars for next year’s grand Twentieth Annual Education Law Symposium, offered in person at the famous Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Opportunities for learning, dialogue, continuing education credits and the companionship we have so missed will abound.

Dates are July 7 – 10, 2022. Expect all your favorite experts and new ones as well for a grand celebration. Anyone interested in presenting, please contact me at mshaugh1@lmu.edu. Blessings on your new school year.


About the Author

Sister Angie Shaughnessy, SCN, JD, Ph.D., is a Sister of Charity of Nazareth. She is a nationally recognized expert on the law as it affects Catholic schools and Church ministry. She serves as a consultant to numerous dioceses and is a highly sought-after national speaker and the author of more than 30 texts. You can read her regular From the Field feature, Legal Issues, in Momentum.

Heroes

The following blog was contributed by Lincoln Snyder, the new president/CEO of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

Parents don’t just want their children to be happy; they want their children to be heroes. 

One of the most distinct memories from my sixth grade year at St. John Vianney in Rancho Cordova, California was my mother playing the Joseph Campbell interview series The Power of Myth in the minivan on the way to school. A mythologist and the author of The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell was famous for positing the Hero’s Journey, and though finer points of Jungian psychology were lost to my middle school mind, the series had my attention at Star Wars. Campbell reinforced something at the core of what Catholic school was teaching me, and which I hold to be true: we find meaning in becoming part of a bigger narrative. 

A big part of leadership is storytelling; to quote Doctor Who, “we are all stories in the end, so make it a good one, eh?” For us as leaders in our system, we need to be telling stories that answer the question, to what end do we have Catholic schools? When I started my job as superintendent of schools in the Diocese of Sacramento, Bishop Jaime Soto was clear on his answer to that question: we are committed to forming servant-leaders in Christ. Our high schools in Sacramento all have mottos that reinforce this theme: St. Francis’ Graduating Young Women Who Change the World; Jesuit’s Men for Others; Christian Brothers’ Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve

Parents want their kids to be sports stars or academic stars or arts stars because that kind of heroism is part of the cultural narrative we live in; as Catholic educators, we know, of course, that we are part of a much bigger and older narrative. My mentor in Catholic school advancement work always used his speeches and letters to tell the story of one particular student – a local kid made good through Catholic education. And people respond to that story of the call to service; I believe it’s part of our wiring to do so. It echoes the story of a Kid from the provinces who was in the building trades until about thirty who then went on to be the greatest Hero of all time. You may have heard of Him…

Which brings me to the point about heroes. As a disciple, there’s only one kind of hero you will be, and that is a servant-leader in Christ. It’s what He modeled for us. In Catholic schools, we don’t hand out cheat sheets on servant-leadership; we say, commit to Him and it’s where you’ll end up. 

Think of this past year. I am convinced that this is a great time to be a Catholic school leader. If you want to be around heroes, just spend some time at a Catholic school. We moved to distance learning on a dime, and we were the first safely back to the classroom – and we stayed. Our teachers did this with no expectation of glory. But this year has been a glory, an Aristeia, a moment of excellence. Our teachers and leaders were valorous, and they were His kind of heroes – not Hector of the Bright Helm, but Ms. Miller of the Fourth Grade. 

There have been challenges and setbacks. We saw an initial drop in enrollment when COVID hit, and some of our schools have closed. But there is good news. We attracted more new friends to Catholic schools than in recent memory, and many of our schools and dioceses have grown. I am confident that our schools can grow. When I made my initial report to the school board as a new superintendent in Sacramento, I told them that we didn’t have a product problem, we had a marketing challenge. People didn’t understand what makes Catholic schools good and different and worthy of their investment. 

As a school leader, make it your mission to answer that question. A big part of my journey has been finding my own way to answer it. In a recent podcast conversation with Bishop Robert Barron, Dr. Jordan Peterson offered that young people leave the Church not because we ask too much of them, but because we ask too little. By asking too little of a child, you telegraph a lack of faith in their possibilities. We know how to ask something – the right thing – of kids. 

Many of our new families didn’t come to our schools for the faith. They came because we were safe, open and excellent. But now that they are with us, they are staying – about 90 percent of the families that came to Catholic school during COVID are re-enrolling for next year. They see what a difference a faith community makes in the lives of their students and they are happy to be a part of that story. 

One of the programs I’m proudest of in Sacramento is called Education in Virtue. My friend Sister John Dominic of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist is a genius who figured out how to teach St. Thomas Aquinas to six-year-olds. We teach six-year-olds servant-leadership as well, and what I like to tell them is this:

Jesus loves you so much that he’s going to ask you to do something great for someone else. 

He’s asking you, too. He’s asking us. I believe in this mission of making kids into heroes in His name, and I believe that with heroes like you, we can grow this mission. 

Thank you for saying yes to Him.

Don’t Let a Good Disruption Go to Waste

The following blog was contributed by Anne Schafer-Salinas, director of virtual learning at Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, TX.

The 2020 – 2021 year is destined to be included in history books of the future. As the world emerges from pandemic living, schools are just as poised as any organization to learn from the last 15 months and shift where appropriate. 

Our goal as Catholic school educators is to prepare future generations to be compassionate, creative and collaborative. That is what we have inherited from the Brothers and Sisters who founded our schools. Education has always been a central tenet of our faith and the longevity of Catholic schools is a testament to the value placed upon education by our collective community. It is important that we find ways to offer the best of Catholic education while maintaining pace with global trends if we expect our campuses to thrive and prepare our students for the world that they will inherit.

This intersection of valued Catholic education and global evolution is what has propelled us to commit to offering a virtual campus in tandem with our brick-and-mortar school. The pandemic has highlighted that not all students thrive in a traditional setting and as Catholic educators, we have a responsibility to design innovative ways to serve our families. Families have also been able to capitalize on the mobility that virtual learning has offered. As the pandemic recedes in our country (thank you science!), schools are planning for the year ahead in what many are calling “a return to normalcy.” At Incarnate Word High School, we are taking advantage of the disruption to move ahead with a plan that had been in the pipeline to launch in a couple of years.  We are doing this with great intention. 

Our school, Incarnate Word High School in San Antonio, was founded by and is an active ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word (CCVI Sisters). You can learn more about this amazing group of women online. In an interesting parallel, it was the cholera pandemic in Texas in 1869 that first brought the CCVI Sisters to the United States. As part of their commitment to “a life for God and a heart for others” the CCVI Sisters established several orphanages and schools. Over the past 140 years, IWHS has evolved as the needs changed: from a K-8 to an all-girls high school and eventually adding a university campus. Now another pandemic is propelling the school into its next iteration as we prepare to welcome our first virtual students this fall. The tradition entrusted to us by the CCVI Sisters of providing education to those who needed one has positioned Incarnate Word High School to successfully launch a virtual campus and continue to meet the needs of the young women seeking a strong Catholic education. 

Some schools will see what we are doing as challenging the status quo. I would offer, however, that we are continuing the legacy our founders instilled in us. We are providing an avenue that will allow more families to stay in the Catholic school system. There are many families who find that they cannot continue with a Catholic high school due to geography, health or accessibility. If Incarnate Word Virtual High School can create a pathway for some of these families to stay in the Catholic school system, it’s a win for all of us.

Many lessons have been learned in the last 15 months. It is what we do with those lessons that will define the next 15 months and beyond.

If you would like to connect and talk more about what we are doing here at Incarnate Word High School, please feel free to reach out. You can find me at: asalinas@iwhs.org and on Twitter (@APAnnie7), LinkedIn and Clubhouse. To learn more about Incarnate Word High School, please visit our website: www.incarnatewordhs.org.

Three Tips for Summer Rejuvenation

The following blog was contributed by Jill Annable, executive director for academic excellence at the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA).

“Trust. You do not have to know it all.” The words startled me. I was merely stepping out of noon Mass alongside an NCEA member superintendent while on a diocesan visit. The pastor stopped us in our tracks, pointed at me and said those words: “Trust. You do not have to know it all.” He felt it on his heart to tell me and I was reminded that the Holy Spirit speaks to us in this way if we are willing to listen. I did not personally know him and he was unaware of my visit, but his words were exactly what I needed.

Days later, I am still reflecting on its truth. For the past 15 months, we have each felt the pressure to know a little bit of everything, in fields well beyond education, in order to serve the families of our schools. For all of us collectively moving at this cheetah’s pace, what comes next?

We rest. We pray in thanksgiving. Reflect. Rejuvenate. Unable to slow your brain and unsure where to begin? Let’s focus on three strategies:

1. Put up the email vacation responder.

We all know you didn’t take any family vacation last summer. Instead, you were likely on weekly calls with your county health department and speed-writing a pandemic plan. You delivered a successful school year full of meaningful family partnership and academic excellence. We all recognize you cannot actually walk away from your inbox for eight solid weeks, but you can give yourself the mental permission to use an email vacation responder. Looking for an example? Try this one adapted from Michele Watson, principal of Holy Spirit Catholic School in Overland Park, Kansas, which reads:

We are all on a well-deserved and most needed summer break. Our summer hours are ___. I will be responding to email and voicemails intermittently throughout the summer. If you need something outside of our summer hours, please call ___.

It’s hard to argue with its honesty, and its message still attends to its recipients. Encourage your faculty and colleagues to follow suit.

2. Read for pleasure.

Last summer, each hour brought a new layer of crisis that seemingly required immediate reaction. We constantly scanned news feeds and obscure education blogs. In contrast, what’s on this summer’s reading list? In light of its five year anniversary, come back to encyclical letter Laudato Si’ while lying in a hammock. Ponder Philosophy 101 by Socrates for a few minutes each morning. Indulge in a mindless fictional summer mystery with your toes in the sand.

And if you must, read specifically in relation to your ministry in Catholic education. The NCEA bookstore has you covered.

3. Don’t know everything.

Hide your phone for the night. Eat outdoors. Sleep in. Skip the beauty routine. Laugh. Dodge the nightly news once or twice. Take the long route on a walk. Read the extra bedtime story your grandkids beg for. Order the double scoop. Most importantly, rejoice in the acceptance that none of us were called to know or do it all. And when the slower pace is difficult, turn to the Lord for help. Consider Psalm 139:4 as a good starting place: “Even before a word is on my tongue, Lord, You know it all.” Let Him carry you.

In time, the sounds and smells of back-to-school will trigger us back to the pace we know and love. Meanwhile, in this moment of pause and deep breath, we are reminded that none of us are useful to His work in Catholic education if we are tired and weary. Thank you for delivering one of the most remarkable school years to date. Enjoy the blessings that summer brings.