Here is a link to today’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour. Two great Catholic school leaders join the podcast.
The superintendent of the Partnership Schools in New York City, Kathleen Porter-Magee, joins the podcast to first, discuss her new articles(s) on “Catholic On the Inside.” We discuss how we shape school culture. Her articles have been the most read for the past three weeks of Catholic School Matters. These are great articles and deserve your attention!
- Manhattan Institute report “Catholic on the Inside: Putting Values Back at the Center of Education Reform”
- “An Alienated America Needs Community-Building Schools–Something Catholic Schools Have Been Doing for Decades” in the 74.
- America magazine article, “In an Age of Extreme Individualism, Catholic Schools Are More Important Than Ever.”
She describes her argument that if schools imitate the exterior symbols of Catholic schools (such as uniforms), they lose sight of what’s really important in Catholic schools. Catholic schools are overperforming on state tests and she believes it’s because they are focused on more than simply test scores.
What are the differentiating factors which set Catholic schools apart? Often Catholic schools adopt practices, language, and reports that seem to mimic their public school counterparts. She then continues by discussing what sets apart Catholic schools: there is objective truth and all people are created in God’s image–as well as how that shapes us.
“You can lift people up by putting them down.” We discuss how asset framing works by not referring to people by their deficiencies and deficits. Instead, asset framing looks at potential and gifts to share the mindsets of our schools.
Then, the second guest comes who needs no introduction! Celebrating her 25th year as principal of Christ the King Catholic School in Little Rock, Kathy House is a living legend. First, House discusses her long-time collaboration (19 years!) with one pastor—the Bishop-Elect of Shreveport, Monsignor Malone. Monsignor Malone is scheduled to be ordained on January 28, 2020.
At one point, House and Malone gave seminars on the pastor-principal relationship, called “The Dynamic Duo.” House shares her wisdom that the pastor is ultimately responsible and she needed to defer to him. The collaborative nature of their leadership model is worth a listen.
House shared that she needed to figure out how each one of her pastors works and shows concern in order to be effective. She talks about the importance of keeping her pastor informed and discusses what that looks like.
The school started in 1986 and House has overseen tremendous growth. She discusses how the school grew and how expansion was prioritized. She discussed the fundraising plans and how the parish-school collaboration shaped their campaigns and talked about how she had to learn the skills to be an effective financial manager and fundraiser for such a large operation.
She discussed how she was tapped on the shoulder to lead as a kindergarten teacher, how serving such a long time has given her a unique perspective on community, and then how she has changed as a leader. “I don’t overthink things like I did then,” she said. She has developed a way to respond and has more confidence and a larger network to draw from.
She also provides tips on learning students’ names and the importance of doing this which grows the sense of belongingness among the students. House discusses how she gives the tours and shows the best of her school. She also gives tips on maintaining and cultivating Catholic identity.
More than anything, you’ll be listening to a great principal who loves her job and does it well. What more can you ask for?