Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast features three great guests from the upcoming Mustard Seed project in Chicago October 7-9. Here is a direct link to the podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe to get all of this season’s episodes when they come out!
The first conversation is with Dr. Mike Boyle, the Greeley Center director, who described the humble beginnings of the Mustard Seed Project which emerged from the Center’s idea to serve more students with disabilities. The first conference happened 6 years ago and served 40 Chicago-area Catholic school educators. Now it has become a three-day event with people coming from across the country and Canada.
As Boyle describes, the conference is designed around principles of adult learning—namely, that “sit and get” conferences do little to improve professional practice. The Mustard Seed Project is designed around assessing, applying, and creating and is ideal for school teams who want to examine their own school’s practices. This year’s conference is centered on our students’ mental health and how we can build our capacity to serve our students.
Next up on the podcast is Curtis Klesinger, the executive director of the Mother Teresa Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. Klesinger is a dynamic leader who describes the founding of their academy—the first Nativity school in Canada—in order to serve the indigenous population. Many of their students have suffered trauma in their past and have not found a stable school. Klesinger describes the presentations they will make in Chicago centered on their tiered interventions.
Their first tier is designed to build up the identity and culture of all of its students. Their “Bring Back the Buffalo” program instills pride in their heritage and is crucial to establishing a solid foundation for mental health. Another essential component is working with parents to teach and establish good parenting skills. Klesinger mentions that his team will then present case studies to illustrate how their second and third tiers of intervention operate.
Dr. Keith Crowley, the principal of St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, is the third guest on this week’s podcast. He discusses the holistic approach of their all-boys Xaverian high school and their organizational supports for student mental health. In a school of over 1400 students, St. John’s boasts 10 guidance counselor in addition to a full-time Counselor for Social and Emotional Wellness. He mentions that their emphasis on wellness grew out of an accreditation team recommendation to develop programs to care for their students. Crowley has come to recognize how many students encounter obstacles to complete school in the traditional, linear fashion.
The team from St. John’s will present one session on using student voice to develop wellness programs and another session will explain their curricular innovations teaching mental health skills. It’s a great episode focusing on cutting edge innovation in Catholic schools. Here is another direct link to the podcast.