Last Tuesday, I had the privilege to witness the installation of Bishop George Leo Thomas as the 3rd Bishop of Las Vegas. My former boss from Helena made a powerful call to the vision of Vatican II and becoming a church which challenges us all to holiness. On my way home, I began reading the engrossing biography and memoir of Daniel Berrigan, SJ At Play in the Lions’ Den. When he described the actions of the Catonsville Nine—who chose not to run away but rather to sit and claim their act of protest—Berrigan said to his co-conspirators, “Don’t just do something, stand there” (118). We are called to action and we are also called to stand still.
This, the final newsletter of 2017-18, is me standing here. It’s impossible to sum up all the work of this past year and this spring specifically. But I’ve tried to give you a taste of each issue by including the most popular and my favorite link from each issue. The most popular issue was January’s edition spotlighting innovative models in American Catholic schools, the most popular blog was from Dr. Erin Barisano (the superintendent-elect for the Diocese of Orange) who wrote a piece on Educating Together, the 2007 Vatican document on Education, and the most popular podcast was my podcast conversation with Fr. Gene Merz, SJ.
I’ve kept up my habit of reading a book a week and honestly believe Berrigan’s biography will turn out to be my favorite. Since January I’ve driven over 12k miles, flown over 29k miles, visited Nevada (twice), California (twice), Virginia, Ohio (twice), Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington, DC. I’ve chaired three school visits and served on a system team visit. Here is the rundown of this spring’s newsletters:
- The January 7th edition focused on the new 529 plans. The most popular link was What is a 529 Plan? and my favorite link was The Resulting Fallacy which examines how poker logic can help decision making from the Farnam Street blog.
- The January 14th edition focused on innovations in Catholic schools such as Cristo Rey, Drexel Schools, and many more. The most popular link was The Era of the Textbook is Over by Dr. Bill Hughes in Ed Week and my favorite article was about the innovative Seton Catholic School network in Milwaukee, also by Dr. Bill Hughes in Ed Week, Transforming Catholic Education in Milwaukee.
- The January 21st edition focused on synthesizing church documents in education. The most popular link was an article about parents rallying to save St. Helen’s School in Napa. My favorite link was Sarah Silverman’s interview with Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries. I just read Fr. Greg’s latest book, Barking to the Choir, and find it inspiring and reflective.
- The January 28th edition spotlighted Turnaround Catholic schools. The most popular link was my podcast on Holy Rosary Regional School (Tacoma). In the podcast, I speak to donor Darrell Jesse who has since passed away after a long battle with cancer. His advocacy for the school’s transformation into a dual language school is inspiring. My favorite link was Kathleen Porter-Magee’s blog post “To Spark a Catholic School Renaissance We Need to Put our Faith in Autonomous Networks.” She really knocks it out of the park!
- The February 4th edition also focused on turnaround Catholic schools. The most popular link was “10 Skills Great Principals Have You Won’t See on Resumes” from the School Leaders Now blog. My favorite link was the NCR article about the Catholic School Matters podcast.
- The February 11th edition focused on New Catholic Schools. The most popular link was “The Scariest Catholic in America” in the New York Times about Fr. James Martin, SJ. My favorite link was from Harvard Business Review “If You’re So Successful, Why are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week?”
- The February 18th edition again spotlighted new Catholic schools. The most popular link was the feature story on Dr. RaeNell Houston, the first-year superintendent of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. My favorite link was the analysis by Rev. Jim Wallis (Sojourners) of the anti-immigration rhetoric.
- The February 25th edition focused on more new Catholic schools. The most popular link was the Thomas Murray blog post “7 Ways to Build Trust in Your Community.” My favorite link was the Edutopia article “Turning Classrooms Into Communities.”
- The March 4th edition focused on the great work being done at Bishop McNamara High School. The most popular link was my video of the African dance & drum class at Bishop McNamara. My favorite link was the Billings Gazette story about how the Billings Central Catholic HS basketball team responded to the death of the 4th grade student at St. Francis. It speaks to the kind of communities we try to build in our Catholic schools.
- The March 11th edition focused on school violence. The most popular link was “10 Steps Schools Can Take to Prevent School Violence” and my favorite link was the story about Coach Frank Hall which has stuck with me.
- The March 18th edition spotlighted the “Holy Hoops” tournament at St. Matt’s School. The most popular link was “Create a Growth Culture, Not a Performance-Obsessed One” in the Harvard Business Review. I really enjoyed David Brooks’ column in the New York Times “Good Leaders Make Good Schools.” He distills an Education Week blog and points out what we’ve all known for some time—that school leadership is key to a successful school.
- The March 25th edition highlighted the efforts of St. Francis School to recover from the loss of a student. The most popular link from the National Catholic Register was on the Archdiocese of Washington’s pastoral plan in response to Amoris Laetitia. My favorite link was the Mind/Shift article “A Deeper Look at the Whole School Approach to Behavior.” In many ways, Catholic schools have adopted these practices but I believe we could all benefit from incorporating these best practices.
- The April 15th edition focused on building community in Catholic schools. The most popular link was centered on Long-time Delaware Catholic school principal fired in March; Parents Protest the firing by penning an op-ed calling for a Board of Limited Jurisdiction; Delaware principal reinstated 11 days later. My favorite link was the story on Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation “Rejoice and Be Glad.”
- The April 22nd edition spotlighted the great work of Sr. Helen Prejean. The most popular link was “Pope John Paul II Did Not Change the Church’s Teaching on Capital Punishment.” My favorite link was my podcast conversation with Sr. Helen.
- The April 29th edition focused on “Educating to Fraternal Humanism,” the Vatican’s latest document on education. The most popular link was the document itself, Educating to Fraternal Humanism. It was difficult to choose one guest blog but perhaps the one that stuck with me the longest was Nicole Garnett’s guest blog which challenges us all to examine whether we are, in fact, educating to fraternal humanism.
- The May 6th edition focuses on the House system. The most popular link (and the most popular of the spring!) was the Moeller video on the House system. My favorite link was the story on the little boy who asked Pope Francis is his daddy was in heaven.
So that’s my effort to provide good resources for Catholic school leaders and to challenge our paradigms in order to improve our professional practice. I imagine I’ll be standing here for a few weeks and then will begin curating for next year. Have a great summer!
This week, I wrap up the school year of Catholic School Matters by providing a “Best Of” the spring. I’ll include links to each one of the issues along with the most popular and my favorite link from each of the 17 issues. How to choose the Top 5? I chose the 5 times that the most popular link was also my favorite.
- The article was about the innovative Seton Catholic School network in Milwaukee, also by Dr. Bill Hughes in Ed Week, Transforming Catholic Education in Milwaukee.
- The link to Sarah Silverman’s interview with Fr. Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries.
- The most popular link of the spring was the Moeller video on the House system.
- The link was my podcast conversation with Sr. Helen.
- Christian Dallavis, the Senior Director of Leadership Programs at ACE (Notre Dame), contributed a blogon the impact of the closing of the Jubilee Schools and the fallacy of charter conversions taking the place of Catholic schools
As I was preparing this issue this morning, an article from Mind/Shift appeared extolling the virtues of the House system in public schools. Two weeks ago, I highlighted the Catholic roots of the system and explored how the House system is helping to build community in our Catholic schools. Now it serves as another example of how our Catholic schools are continuing to shape education in this country. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!
That’s a wrap on 2017-18. Have a great close of the school year and a restful summer!