Catholic School Matters Top 5

Have you ever taught with a veteran, popular teacher who talked about working on a book for years? Usually nothing comes of it. But Mr. Mike Quillin has (finally!) published his book, The Way of Fuzzy Faith, after a lifetime of teaching English and theology in Catholic schools. I’m so happy for him but I’m also happy for all of us because learning from our elders could benefit all our schools.

In last week’s blog, I talked about Deal & Peterson’s Shaping School Culture.  They certainly encourage learning from our heroes and elders. “A learning organization is one that mines past and present experiences for important lessons and principles, for stories and legends that can energize current efforts,” they write on page 57. Quillin has a lifetime of important lessons, principles, and stories.

In chapter 40, for example, Quillin relates his “Test Prayer,” where he goes up and down the rows of students while they furiously complete their tests and prays for each one individually. “It is a great way for me to see each student as she is, a unique wonderful individual, not simply a member of the class. Teaching each day one is struck by individual students for good or bad reasons, but there isn’t the time to savor each student as a person,” he writes.

Quillin believes that faith is fuzzy and there are no clear answers. The book is a collection of essays, some of them discussing theological controversies, some of them about books of the bible, some of them about teaching, others about religious practice, with the common thread his faith. You might not agree with all his conclusions but following his arguments is worth your time.

Speaking of time, Quillin has a motto about life that serves as the simplest of his prayers: “This is it.  Right now.  Right here.” It serves as a centering prayer and a reminder that this is who we are, where we are, and when we are. We often want to be somewhere or someone else, but Quillin reminds us that this is it. He delivers elder wisdom.

After all, we often hear from teachers and administrators in Catholic schools wishing their situations were different—more students, perhaps, or better attendance at Mass, or a better financial situation. Quillin reminds us this is our life, this is our calling.  Quillin stayed. He kept teaching in Catholic schools, he kept going to Mass every Sunday. Why? The book is his testimony.

It’s a short (157 pages) and cheap ($10) investment that will yield insight and appreciation into our Catholic school culture.

Top 5

Happy Catholic Schools Week!  It’s time to celebrate and build community. I have a great blog in this week’s newsletter about a book written by a former Catholic school teacher, The Way of Fuzzy Faith, and a collection of interesting articles for your reading enjoyment. Notice that this is the (unfortunate) season for school closing announcements. In the past two weeks, I have come across announcements for 16 school closings. Don’t ignore this news. Read the stories and vow to take action in your own school to build a brighter future.  The Top 5:

  1. The first article in the American Catholic News section is about the Espinoza case which was heard by the US Supreme Court last week. The decision should be announced in June, but we want to stay on top of the issues and be prepared to talk about the facts.
  2. In the Leadership section, the first article about the 70-20-10 rule for Leadership is very thought-provoking. How much of your leadership expertise is due to education?  Or experience?  This article will challenge your thinking.
  3. The second and third articles in that section are about time. “How busyness leads to bad decisions” is a good reminder to leaders about how to tackle the challenges amid a busy schedule and “Why Americans are always running out of time” is a great reflection on how technology is not making our lives easier, just more complex.
  4. In the Teaching & Learning section, “The New Reading Environment” explores the challenges of reading amid all the different formats and technologies.
  5. The video at the end of that section is from AVLI (Arrupe Virtual Learning Institute) and explores the ways that AVLI is building and supporting instructional capacity in Catholic schools. It’s worth a look!

Have a great Catholic Schools Week!


This week on the Catholic School Matters podcast I welcome two great guests to the podcast who explain and celebrate their Catholic school vocations. Emily Lazor, a 4th year staff member at Dallas Cristo Rey College Prep HS, joins the podcast to explain her vocation as a Catholic school teacher. She explained her path to Dallas Cristo Rey and the culture of the school. The principal of Holy Family HS outside Denver joins the podcast to discuss the successful capital campaign. Matt Hauptly first discusses his pathway to leadership and his decision to enroll in the Remick Leadership program at Notre Dame.