Category Archives: Catholic School Matters

On Leadership

On Monday, September 11th, I kick off a few weeks of preview podcasts with presenters from the NCEA’s Catholic Leadership Summit (CLS) in Tempe October 22-25.  One of the keynotes will be delivered by Harry Kraemer, a professor at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.  Listen to our podcast tomorrow as we explore leadership.  Here’s a link to Kraemer’s TEDx talk.

Kraemer discusses four values which comprise successful leadership: self-reflection, balance, true self-confidence, and genuine humility.  Inspired by Kraemer, I have included links to leadership articles I came across this summer as well as some favorites I’ve previously published.

In the past week I’ve come across a few articles that have direct relevance.  What Teachers Want You to Know: A Note to School Administrators by Jennifer Gonzalez (the “Cult of Pedagogy” blog) is a great read.   She argues that school administrators need to treat teacher time as a precious commodity, differentiate their leadership, give specific feedback, check their egos, and fight for teachers.  It’s a great way to start the school year.  Relationships Matter More Than Rules by Rebecca Alber on the Edutopia site is a great reflection about how change happens in schools.  Farnam Street’s “The Wrong Side of Right” is a great reflection on how we all need to give up being right at all costs.  Finally, David Brooks’ column “In Praise of Finding Life’s Balance” is a great study of how to break down walls of victimization.  It almost seems like everyone—even the most powerful political leader in the world (!)—carries his- or herself as victims.  Brooks argues we need to understand each person’s perspective and fight the victim mentality.

Here are some great articles on leadership from the past few months:

Here is some of my favorite leadership articles that I’ve previously published:

We can’t assume that we all have all the information and skills we’ll need to be successful now and in the future.  We need to assume that we need to keep sharpening our leadership skills.  Let’s learn together.

Week 2 of the Podcast!

Week 2 of the Catholic School Matters podcast (Season Two) kicked off Monday, September 4th, with another 5 episodes featuring people in and Catholic education.  Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes.

Episode 61 dropped on Monday and featured Shane Cragun, the co-author of Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption.  Here is the link to my book blog.   Shane and I discuss the nature of disruptions and how the concept applies to Catholic schools.

Episode 62 dropped today and included a great interview with Dr. William Hughes, the Chief Academic Officer of Seton Schools Milwaukee.  Dr. Hughes discusses their attempts to form one school system and the use of data to promote student achievement.

Episode 63 will drop tomorrow, September 6th, and will include an interview with the engaging Carmen Garcia, the Assistant Superintendent in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who is also the Director of Faith Formation.  We discuss the need for faith formation for teachers as well as the joys of leading.

Episode 64 will drop on Thursday, Sep 7th, and will include an engaging talk with Patricia McGann, the outstanding principal of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Bethesda, Maryland.  Patricia has developed an inclusive model to serve all students and she discusses the reasons for it and the advantages.

The final podcast in the series will feature Lynne Lang, the Director of School Climate in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  This podcast will drop on Friday, September 8th and will feature of discussion of Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline and its place in the Catholic school environment.

These five podcasts are a great sampling of the great ideas flowing in and around Catholic schools.  Take a listen!



Dr. Tim Uhl’s Top 5

This issue is a collection of articles I came across on the American Catholic church I came across this summer.  It’s by no means comprehensive, instead serving as a sample of the issues in and around American Catholic schools.  I’ve also included 5 articles about teaching tolerance and fighting hate in the classroom because it’s so timely.

The top 5:

  1. The profiles of two superb Catholic administrators (and future podcast guests) are worth celebrating. RaeNell Houston and Phyllis Cavallone demonstrate heart, courage, faith, and leadership.
  2. The Q & A with Sr. Erica Jordan, the Sinsinawa Dominican who challenged Paul Ryan on his adherence to Catholic social and seemingly channels the words of Pope Francis in “Joy of the Gospel.”
  3. I included three resources for understanding the Trinity Lutheran court case. It’s potentially a landmark case which could damage Blaine amendments (which limit state government’s ability to help Catholic school students).
  4. I’ve included a comprehensive section on the opening and closing of Catholic schools. We have impressive new schools opening in Kansas City, Boise, and Billings.  Read all about it!
  5. As I mentioned, I included 5 resources for teachers to confront the issues of hate and racism. It’s where our students are at—and Pope Francis is calling us to meet people where they are.

It looks like Sacred Heart Elementary in Rockport survived the storm with only minor damage (so far).  Let’s keep our eyes on the unfolding situation in Texas and find ways to aid the recovery efforts.  Sometimes asking our students to adopt a sister Catholic school makes the situation more real.

Have a great week!

Season 2 of the Catholic School Matters Podcast

On Monday, Season 2 of the Catholic School Matters podcast kicked off with a great interview with Fr. Tim Scully of Notre Dame’s ACE program.  Here is a link to the podcast.

In the podcast, I jokingly referred to the ACE teaching program as a “cult” because of the zealous devotion that many ACE’rs show.  When pressed, Fr. Scully revealed the secret to the program when he mentions that our faith provides a framework to understanding the struggles of teaching.  It was a profound comment.

Teaching—especially the first couple of years—is difficult.  Having a community (ACE’rs live in communities of 5-6 fellow teachers) to commiserate with certainly helps.  But joining your struggles to the Paschal mystery (“How will this suffering be resurrected later?”) can provide hope in a despairing time.  The combination of community with the framework can bolster the flagging energy of any new teacher and provide hope.

It’s a revealing moment and a worthwhile listen.  To reach Fr. Tim: or the ACE website.  Here is Fr. Tim’s Bio page and the National Review article on ACE & Fr. Scully.

Looking ahead to the rest of the week:

  • Tuesday, Episode #57 will drop and will feature Mr. Ken Willers, the outstanding principal at the School of the Madeleine in Berkeley, California. Ken will discuss his innovative Annual Report that he uses to illustrate the successes of the school.  To reach him: or the School of the Madeleine  Here is an example of the latest Annual Report and the YouTube promotional video.
  • Wednesday, Episode #58 will include an interview with marketing guru Stan Phelps. Stan has a great philosophy of catering to our current customers (as opposed to attracting new customers) which has tremendous implications for Catholic schools.  Stan can be reached at or the Purple Goldfish  Here is the Purple Goldfish keynote (20 minutes) and Stan’s IBM page.
  • Thursday, Episode #59 will feature Dr. Toni Moore of the University of Dayton’s Center for Catholic Education. She will discuss the Remy Initiative as well as the great work being done in the Center for Catholic Education. She can be reached at and here is the 2016 Colloquium page.
  • Friday’s Episode #60 will include an interview with Dr. Tad Dickel, the president of Mater Dei High School in Evansville. Dickel will discuss the school choice program in Indiana and its impact on Mater Dei.  He can be reached at  Dr. Dickel’s alumni profile from the University of Evansville and the Indiana Department of Education’s “Choice Scholarships” page.

It’s a great week of podcasts!

Dr. Tim Uhl’s Catholic Education Update

This newsletter issue is designed to catch up on American Catholic news from the summer as well as offer you some resources for teaching tolerance.  These articles are going to educate and challenge you.  I’m including pieces from across the ideological spectrum in order to start the conversation.

But first, let’s focus on the good news.  Throughout the year, I try to track the opening and closing of Catholic schools.  This month, we have some great examples of brand new Catholic schools such as St. Michael the Archangel HS outside Kansas City; St. Ignatius Elementary outside Boise; St. Timothy School in Union, Kentucky; Frassati Catholic HS outside Denver; and new independent Catholic high schools in Richmond and North Carolina.  What is most exciting for me is the new St. Francis Catholic School in Billings where they moved out of their three campuses and into a new $17 million building.

Continue the good feeling by reading about the profiles of the award-winning Catholic elementary principal Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek of Chicago and the new African-American superintendent of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, Dr. RaeNell Billiot Houston—both of whom will be on the podcast this year. For an uplifting profile, read about Cardinal Tobin.  Enjoy reading how a Sinsinawa Dominican challenged Rep. Paul Ryan at his Town Hall.

Now, prepare to be challenged.  This article about sexual abuse by priests on Montana Indian reservations is heartbreaking but should be read regardless in order to understand how the Church is being perceived.  This NYTimes article about how the Vatican is challenging hard-line conservatives and America article about Pope Francis’ teaching about liturgical reforms will be unwelcome reads for some.  Others will dispute the Cardinal Newman Society’s article about how the classical approach to education is gaining momentum.  No matter what you find unwelcome or uncomfortable, it’s important for all of us to read all sides.

Stay updated with Catholic school law by reading John Kaempf’s blog, reading this article about the Supreme Court’s ruling, and Archbishop Lori’s opinion.  There’s a new wing for special education at a St. Augustine high school, sparking another Twitter debate on inclusion (!).  British bishops tackle LQBT bullying in Catholic schools.

Read how the National Catholic Register recommends partnering with parents, the solutions to what’s ailing Catholic schools according to the Cardinal Newman Society, the four models in a faith-based school according to the Managing for Mission blog, suggestions for increasing enrollment and the many factors impacting Catholic school enrollment.

Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education?  Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.  Keep reading.  I’ll be taking next weekend off as I make the transition to a club soccer parent.

Back to School 2017

As we begin to welcome students back to school, it’s a stressful time for students, teachers, and principals.  Parents?  There is some stress, mixed with relief (see this video!).  I should draw your attention to the most popular episode of the Catholic School Matters podcast I published last year: Advice from New Principals.  It’s full of great “from the field” advice for principals.  A couple of things to remember before perusing the list below for worthwhile resources:

  • Your students don’t care what you know until they know you care. This directly flies in the face of “Don’t Smile Till Christmas.”  Don’t simply aspire to be liked, sometimes the love you show is holding them accountable and enforcing consequences.
  • Your students need routines. Some of them live in very chaotic environments.  The sooner you establish routines and procedures, the sooner your students will relax.
  • If you’re a new teacher, find mentors. Maybe one mentor for writing lesson plans, another for class management, another for dealing with parents.  Don’t look for just one!
  • We need to model growth mindset. If you’re simply rolling out the same lesson plans and activities, you are sending the message that you don’t care to try.  Try something new.  Even if it fails, you’re trying and students notice.  Fail fast.  Fail forward.  Keep trying.
  • When something happens you don’t understand (e.g. schedule change, a student gets added to your class, etc) try to understand why first. If you still don’t understand, work collaboratively to change it.  And keep it professional.  Students notice if you complain and will copy your behavior.

Below are the resources I came across the past year.  I didn’t include the links from last year’s edition of the Back to School Issue (August 2016).

Resources for the first day:

Resources for New Teachers:

General Resources for a new school year

As we begin the new year, I’d like to draw your attention to the following resources:


Have a great start of the school year!

– Dr. Tim Uhl

The National Catholic Educational Association and Dr. Tim Uhl Partner to Present “Catholic School Matters”

Podcast, blog and eNewsletter series offers insight from thought leaders in Catholic education

The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is pleased to announce a unique partnership with Dr. Timothy Uhl, superintendent of Montana Catholic Schools, for the 2017 – 2018 school year. Dr. Uhl is the creator of “Catholic School Matters,” a weekly podcast, newsletter and blog for Catholic school leaders and educators. Catholic School Matters offers a host of subjects related to Catholic education. Season two of the podcast will drop August 28, 2017, with Father Tim Scully, co-founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Teaching Program at Notre Dame.

“NCEA’s mission is to provide top-notch professional development and resources to our members. Dr. Uhl’s podcast, newsletter and blog have been very well received by Catholic school leaders and educators across the country,” said NCEA President/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford. “The guests and discussions have been timely and relevant to mutual learning and growth among Catholic school leaders in the United States. NCEA is happy to present our members with the opportunity to benefit from this partnership.”

Dr. Uhl’s thought-provoking interviews and discussion topics focus on bright spots and challenges in Catholic education. The Catholic School Matters podcast debuted September 26, 2016, with Dr. Burnford as the first guest talking about the state of Catholic schools. There were 55 more podcasts to follow along with companion blog posts and newsletters.

Dr. Uhl said, I’m grateful to start the new school year with the support of NCEA for Catholic School Matters. My goal is for everyone who listens to the podcast and reads the newsletter to walk away with new ideas and useful ways of thinking to improve our Catholic schools.

Catholic School Matters is already listened to and followed by many Catholic school educators. One teacher recently posted an online comment about Catholic School Matters, saying, “It always reminds me that the Catholic Church, and thereby our Catholic schools, are universal. There is commonality in the strengths and challenges of Catholic education throughout the world. The guests are involved in Catholic education in a wide variety of ways, but I find something to relate to as a Catholic school teacher in every podcast.”

The blog schedule will be Mondays – Fridays and accessible on the NCEA blog,, under the tab “Catholic School Matters.” The weekly newsletter will be distributed on Mondays to all NCEA members. The newsletters will include Top 5 — Dr. Uhl’s picks of newsworthy topics, Catholic school news and relevant links and a look at the podcast schedule for the upcoming week.

Listen to archived episodes of the Catholic School Matters podcasts from 2016 – 2017.