This week’s episode of the Catholic School Matters Radio Hour presents four great guests from the NCEA Convention last month. I spoke to Catholic education thought leaders in two different conversations.
The first guest was Sr. Angie Shaughnessy of Loyola Marymount, the legal expert. Fresh from one of her NCEA sessions, Sr. Angie shared many hot topics in Catholic school law. We discussed the abuse crisis but also touched on areas of negligence, serving all students, and a variety of other topics. Sr. Angie is plugged in and provides great insight into the issues surfacing in our schools.
Next up was a panel of Catholic university leaders who support Catholic schools at their different institutions: Tom Kiely, the Director of the Institute for Catholic Leadership at Marquette University; Sr. Rosemarie Nassif, the Executive Director of the Center for Catholic Education at Loyola Marymount; and Kristin Melley, the Director of Professional Development at the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College.
How can Catholic universities serve Catholic schools? Kiely pointed out that the Catholic schools need to articulate their needs—professional development, consulting, etc. Melley pointed out that new projects take patience as universities operate slowly on an annual basis. The certificate program in serving diverse learners, for example, took two years to develop and came from a need articulated from local Boston Catholic schools.
Sr. Nassif discussed how strategies for securing funding and personnel is a struggle for all universities and is not an easy task. The vision and relationships must be in alignment for a new project to come to fruition. Serving schools is important but making sure that universities bring partnerships together between school leaders, universities, funders, and foundations to hear what schools need and what could work. Sister Nassif points out the need for collaboration and convening in supporting Catholic schools, especially between universities.
Melley pointed out that all the Catholic education centers (like her own) work to bring people in to Catholic universities as well as working to support Catholic education efforts in the field. One of the best ways that Catholic universities can serve Catholic schools by surfacing actionable research to Catholic schools. Finding ways to make research translational for schools is critical.
The discussion then moved to mission—what is the mission of the Catholic universities? How to serve Catholic schools while finding parallels to their own mission is critical. Catholic schools are always searching for connections to Catholic universities and these three leaders offer suggestions on finding and strengthening those ties.
Each one of their schools described their different initiatives and activities such as the PLACE Corps, iDEAL Institute, TWIN–CS, and the Emmaus series for Catholic school leaders. They all advocated for fair and just solutions for developing Catholic school leadership and looking at ways to change the leadership models. Discussion around the Congress of Conversations around Urban Catholic School systems was mentioned by Kiely—an effort began last year to bring Catholic schools in systems together to identify best practices.
All three are members of CHESCS, Catholic Higher Education Supporting Catholic Schools, the group of 28 Catholic universities working to support of Catholic schools. Of these, 18 of these have Catholic Centers supporting Catholic schools. These Catholic universities are working to highlight and support the great work happening in Catholic schools. Here is another link to this week’s great podcast.