Category Archives: Catholic School Matters

Catholic School Matters Top 5

Earlier this year, the Congregation for Catholic Education issued “Male and Female He Created Them: Towards a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education.” The document was written for educators in Catholic schools so this deserves our attention. Like other church documents, however, it’s a tough read and so I contacted theologian and social ethicist Fr. Bryan Massingale from Fordham to join me on this week’s podcast to discuss. Grab a copy, read it first, and then listen to the podcast!

Unlike other Vatican documents, this one is not signed by Pope Francis.  This document is a “thinking out loud” summary of where the Church is at right now, and because it is centered on dialogue, it is by no means the final word on gender theory. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also working on a document on gender theory as well and will be out in 2020.

Many were hoping that the document would provide more direction for school policies. Instead, it offers church positions on gender theory and calls for more dialogue. For a look at how the document was received, here are articles which show the variety of reactions:

The document explores the anthropology (read human development) of Christian life, the divorce of freedom from truth, the importance of the family, and the tension between science and faith. Not to be missed, however, is the document’s attention to “a way of accompanying that is discrete and confidential, capable of reaching out to those who are experiencing complex and painful situations” (paragraph 56). The document does not make any policy restrictions on Catholic schools (e.g. banishing transgender students), instead calling on educators to carry out a pastoral approach.

It’s worth your effort to read and to participate in the dialogue around these thorny issues in our culture, our church, and in our schools. My hope is that the podcast and these resources will help you in your efforts.

Top 5

This week’s blog and podcast are focusing on the Vatican document on gender theory, “Male and Female He Created Them” released this year and intended for Catholic educators. The Top 5 links:

  1. Fr. Jim Heft’s take on the Vatican document is the best piece I’ve read on the document and will give you the context around the document.
  2. In the American Catholic News section, “When Professional Catholics Burn Out” is a great piece exploring how lay Catholics struggle with their vocations in the church as well as their faith.
  3. Keeping with the same theme in the Leadership section, “6 Causes of Burnout” will help you consider how well your school is functioning.  We’ve all heard the adage, “If you want something done, ask the busiest person.” Is that really the best approach?
  4. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first article on protecting teacher time is a great piece on guarding instructional time from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
  5. In the Miscellany section, the New York Times piece on the growth of anti-vaccine sentiment is really enlightening. It speaks to the challenges all of us are dealing with in education—if, like medical professionals, we are simply another voice, instead of the professionals—that are reshaping our profession. As people turn against science, experts, and authority, how does that impact your work?

Have a great week!

Podcast

This week, I am airing a conversation with Fr. Bryan Massingale from Fordham. We’ll be discussing the Vatican document “Male and Female He Created Them.” It’s a difficult document to read and discuss as we touch on some “third rail” topics such as gender, homosexuality, and transgender students. On Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast we have a long form conversation exploring the meaning of the document.

Catholic School Matters Top 5

A little over a year ago, we formed a new Board of Limited Jurisdiction at one of our Catholic schools. In this particular community, there are stark divisions among Catholics but a shared commitment to our schools. After all, schools are the melting pots of our American Catholic Church because so many Catholics choose a parish to be around like-minded folks, but Catholic schools mix together those different echo chambers. I realized there weren’t any tools available to help people understand their own perspectives, their peers and how to navigate the differences. I reached out to Dr. Jorge Pena from the Greeley Center at Loyola-Chicago and we’ve been working on developing just such an instrument. This week’s podcast is our conversation when we describe this new instrument and our pilot year—and our call for interested schools to participate.

Our hope is to create an instrument that will measure Catholic culture in a short 30 question online format. It will help an individual measure their own Catholic worldview, a school to measure different constitutive bodies such as the faculty or Advisory Board, a diocese to measure groups such as principals or all Catholic teachers and a system to learn about the culture of the different schools. We measure culture on five different dimensions—subsidiarity, solidarity, mission/money, tradition/innovation, and holiness of all/hierarchy. We hope to gather 1,000 individual participants and work to establish national norms which will be useful for comparative purposes as well as understanding how different groups come with different perspectives.

Why is this important? Well, recently Pope Francis surfaced the possibility of schism, a NCR article called for bishops to focus on fighting schism, and Catholics across the spectrum are exploring how to defy the church hierarchy. These debates are impacting our schools—how bishops view the schools, how parents interact with the school and each other, how pastors interact with the school, etc.

I came across an article last summer about a parish in turmoil. It’s a well-written piece about the conflicts between parishioners and a new pastor, between a parish community and an archbishop, as well as conflicts between parishioners themselves. It’s impossible to read the article and think that everyone is to blame for mishandling a situation. But it’s also clear that there are very different Catholic worldviews at play here and neither side has done much to appreciate the other side.

Here’s a great summary of subsidiarity and solidarity, often misunderstood to be like the federal-states right debate in American politics. Building on this is a long read about the holiness of all as compared to the celebration of the church hierarchy in Cardinal Cupich’s address to priests when he celebrates the holiness of all by virtue of baptism. When read together, there is a vision of church that is dependent on the participation of all the baptized members. For the sake of schools, it’s important to also look at the dimension of innovation and tradition. Are the solutions to the challenges of your school found in returning to traditions of the past or finding new solutions? Also, looking at someone’s affinity for mission or their sense of the business model of the school is another dimension which impacts your school culture.

Our survey project is an attempt to help school communities understand their culture as well as the sources and potential for conflict. Our hope is that this instrument will bring understanding as well as identifying areas for formation and for building community. If you’re interested in participating next month in our initial cohort, email catholicschoolmatters@gmail.com.

Top 5

In this week’s blog, I describe my collaborative effort (with Dr. Jorge Pena) to create a survey instrument to measure Catholic culture. We are actively soliciting participants to join the 50 schools who’ve already signed up.

The Top 5:

  1. In the blog, I highlight an article last summer about a parish in turmoil which has lessons for our schools. Hierarchy, lay participation and visions of church all enter into the story and shed light on the types of conflicts we are all encountering in our school communities.
  2. In the American Catholic News section, Archbishop Gomez challenged white nationalism and his perspective is worth considering.
  3. The next article from NCR explores the monetary backing of EWTN.
  4. From the New York Times, the first article in the Leadership section discusses our tendency toward perfectionism and the need to accept good enough when we can.
  5. In the Teaching section, the long article from the Guardian about generalization, not specialization is written by David Epstein. It counterbalances the 10,000 hour rule popularized by Malcolm Gladwell.

Have a great week!

Podcast

This week, I am airing a conversation with Dr. Jorge Pena from Loyola-Chicago. We have been collaborating on a survey measuring Catholic culture. On Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast, we have a long form conversation explaining the origins of the survey, the purpose of the project and its expected aims. We are still looking for schools to participate in the first (free) cohort. Email catholicschoolmatters@gmail.com for more information or to sign up.

Catholic School Matters Radio Hour

This week’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast features two podcasts and seven great guests from around the country. Each guest played a role in the founding of new Catholic school which opened this fall. 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!

On Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast I start with a conversation with Fr. Tom von Behren, CSV, the founding president of Cristo Rey St. Viator in Las Vegas. Incredibly, the school was able to raise over $33 million to build a completely new school. “We wanted to honor our students,” he says, to give them the best. The total amount of money raised is incredible but the reason is perhaps more so.

Then John Petruzzelli, the founding principal of Kolbe Catholic Academy, the nation’s first Catholic recovery high school, joins me from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Last fall, Dr. Brooke Tesche, now the chancellor of the diocese, described the reasons for the founding of the school on the podcast.

Carolyn Gonzalez, the founding principal of Holy Cross Catholic High School in West Texas and the Diocese of San Angelo, describes the efforts to establish the diocese’s only Catholic high school. She and many supporters have worked tirelessly to establish this school.

Finally, President Gerald Vetter of Light of Christ Catholic Schools in Bismarck, comes back on the podcast to describe the grand opening of the brand new St. Mary’s Central High School. With a $46 million capital campaign nearly complete, Vetter shared the great news that the new high school is open.

On Friday, I’ll release another podcast featuring three other new Catholic schools.

Peter McCourt, the founding CEO of Cristo Rey Richmond High School, is the first guest. The school opened with 96 students (the same amount as St. Viator) from 33 different zip codes. The school is dedicated to workforce development opportunities for its students in a Catholic environment.

Then Dr. Jared Staudt, the founding president of the Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Victory in Denver, describes their new classical high school. He described the new model and their plan for growth.

Fr. Raymond Guaio, the founding president of Welsh Jesuit Academy in Cleveland, describes the Jesuit effort to found a middle school near St. Ignatius High School to serve the underserved students. It’s a great episode focusing on cutting edge innovation in Catholic schools. Here is another direct link to the podcast.

Catholic School Matters Top 5

First, the good news. There are a slew of new Catholic schools dotting the landscape and we need to celebrate this good news. I’ll be interviewing most of the new school leaders on the Catholic School Matters podcast. This week, I’ll drop two podcasts including conversations with seven founders of these new Catholic schools.

In West Texas, the long dream of a Catholic high school in the Diocese of San Angelo came true this fall as Holy Cross High School opened its doors to 9th and 10th graders. Founding Principal Carolyn Gonzalez in on the podcast and describes the efforts of the community to open this great new school.

The Cristo Rey Network of schools added two more schools this fall. Cristo Rey St. Viator High School opened in North Las Vegas with a freshman class of almost 100 and a brand new building! It’s the first Cristo Rey HS to open in a brand new building, courtesy of a $35 million capital campaign. Founding president Fr. Tom von Behren, CSV, joins me on the podcast to describe the great work.

Cristo Rey Richmond High School opened in the former Benedictine High School with 96 students. CEO Peter McCourt joins me on the podcast to tell the story of this great new school.

In Denver, Our Lady of Victory High School opened under the classical model as part of the Chesterton Schools network. Founding president Dr. R. Jared Staudt joins me on the podcast to describe the efforts of establishing this unique high school.

Another unique school, Kolbe Catholic Academy, opened its doors as the nation’s first Catholic recovery school designed to serve students in the Lehigh Valley battling drug and alcohol addiction. Founding principal John Petruzzelli joins me on the podcast to talk about their successful new model.

After a $30 million plus capital campaign by the Light of Christ Catholic Schools in Bismarck, a new St. Mary’s Central High School opened. President Gerald Vetter returns to the podcast to describe the efforts to build this great new high school.

In Cleveland, St. Ignatius High School founded a new Jesuit middle school, the Welsh Academy, to serve low income youth. Founding president Fr. Raymond Guaio, SJ joins me to describe the dream of this unique effort.

In Traverse City, the diocese was able to demolish an old building and establish a brand new Immaculate Conception School. Central Catholic HS in San Antonio celebrated a $12 million upgrade to its facility. In Rockford, a new Catholic school opened, consolidating four former schools into a new venture. New Hampshire saw its second new Catholic school open in as many years.

Last spring, I shared the news of a new STEM high school in Burbank and a planned new classical high school in Burnsville, Minnesota. There are many stories to celebrate!

At the same time, we need to be vigilant. Over the summer, I came across news of seven Catholic schools which were suddenly closed:

Top 5

In this week’s newsletter, I spotlight the new Catholic schools which opened their doors this fall semester. I hope you take the time to learn from each story and reach out to congratulate the founders if you’re moved. I’ve pulled out an additional four links which follow the theme of enrollment and mission. The Top 5 Articles:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, there’s a great 7-minute video about a dual language school in Texas. The principal, Bill Daily, casually mentions that the school’s enrollment has dipped to 98 students and now it was around 450. Why are we not paying more attention to this?!? He talks about the risk of adopting a dual language model, the “messiness” of the church at times, and the need for innovation.
  2. Two blog posts were sent to me which touch on enrollment and deserve a look. Rob Birdsell, the Executive Director for the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship in Education, writes about the need for Catholic schools to change their focus to what parents want based on the NCEA marketing report. Frank Donaldson, the President of IPSD, described how one school increased its enrollment by 50 students. It’s a great reminder of the simple steps that every school can take.
  3. In the Leadership section, the first article from HBR explores how to lead change in a company that is traditionally not open to change. Sound familiar? We all need to be leaders for change whether we are superintendents, principals, teachers, or parents.
  4. In the Miscellaneous Section, the first article explores how positive experiences in childhood can mitigate the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences. Isn’t that what we’re trying to provide with a loving community where every person feels like he/she belongs?

Have a great week!

Podcast

This week, I am interviewing seven school leaders from around the country who were instrumental in opening new Catholic schools. I decided to divide them into two podcasts. On Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast I start with a conversation with Fr. Tom von Behren, CSV, the founding president of Cristo Rey St. Viator in Las Vegas. Then John Petruzzelli, the founding principal of Kolbe Catholic Academy, the nation’s first Catholic recovery high school, joins me from Allentown, Pennsylvania. Then Carolyn Gonzalez, the founding principal of Holy Cross High School in West Texas and the Diocese of San Angelo, describes the efforts to establish the diocese’s only Catholic high school. Finally, President Gerald Vetter of Light of Christ Catholic Schools in Bismarck, comes back on the podcast to describe the grand opening of the brand new St. Mary’s High School. On Friday, I’ll release another podcast featuring three other new Catholic schools. Peter McCourt, the founding CEO of Cristo Rey Richmond High School, is the first guest. Then Dr. Jared Staudt, the founding president of the Chesterton Academy of Our Lady of Victory in Denver, describes their new classical high school. Fr. Raymond Guaio, the founding president of Welsh Jesuit Academy in Cleveland, describes the Jesuit effort to found a middle school near St. Ignatius High School.

Catholic School Matters Radio Hour

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.

Catholic School Matters Top 5

What would you do if an entire class of students suddenly couldn’t see the whiteboard? You’d probably move away from a PowerPoint slideshow and incorporate different teaching methods. What if your entire PE class suddenly couldn’t walk? You’d stop requiring a mile run and work on different skills.

Many of our schools are seeing increasing numbers of students affected by anxiety and other mental health issues. Many of those schools are struggling with how to deal with this new normal. Fortunately, the Greeley Center at Loyola-Chicago is offering a conference next month to address mental wellness of our students.

This year’s Mustard Seed Project October 3-5 in Chicago is designed to surface these issues, present best practices and frameworks for addressing the issues, and to offer work time for school leaders (and school teams) to work toward solutions.

The Mustard Seed Project is based on the Gospel parable of the mustard seed—from the smallest of seeds can come the largest of trees. Designed to serve Catholic schools seeking to serve students with disabilities, this year’s conference has put the focus on mental health.

This week’s podcast includes interviews with Dr. Mike Boyle, the Greeley Center director, and two of its presenters. Curtis Klesinger, the executive director of the Mother Teresa Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan, will lead a skill-building session and discuss how his Nativity School has a tiered intervention system. Keith Crowley, the principal of St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, discusses the holistic approach of their all-boys Xaverian high school and their organizational supports for student mental health. It’s a great episode focusing on cutting edge innovation in Catholic schools.

For further reading on mental health and SEL (Socio-Emotional Learning):

Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking “follow,” subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Top 5

Welcome back to another season of Catholic School MattersThis week’s newsletter focuses on the Mustard Seed Project (Oct 7-9) in Chicago, the great annual conference put on by the Greeley Center of Loyola-Chicago.  This year’s conference focuses on the mental health of our students. The Top 5 articles this week:

  1. The first article in the American Catholic news section spotlights the great work being done at ACE at Notre Dame as seen through the eyes of Dr. Bill Mattison from the program. He talks about the importance of formation of our leaders, which we often overlook in favor of formation of our students.
  2. The second article features a great school leader at a fantastic school—Bryan Carter from Gesu School in Philadelphia. The article has a school choice bent but it’s a insightful celebration of what makes the school succeed.
  3. In the leadership section, I present three great articles on feedback. While they are all great, the article on how to ask for feedback is probably the one which stuck with me the longest. It’s an often overlooked skill.
  4. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first article about how learning is supposed to feel uncomfortable is timely and insightful. Like our students, we often believe we should be able to to pick up and master new skills without any problems. But…c’mon!
  5. The next article in that section on the rise of the haphazard self is great reading for anyone feeling disjointed and adrift at times. In other words, all of us!

Have a great week!  I’ll be back next week with a spotlight on the Catholic schools which opened this fall.

Podcast

Wednesday’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour podcast features three great guests from the upcoming Mustard Seed project in Chicago October 7-9th. This week’s podcast includes interviews with Dr. Mike Boyle, the Greeley Center director, and two of its presenters. Curtis Klesinger, the executive director of the Mother Teresa Academy in Regina, Saskatewan, will lead a skill-building session and discuss how his Nativity School has a tiered intervention system. Keith Crowley, the principal of St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts, discusses the holistic approach of their all-boys Xaverian high school and their organizational supports for student mental health. It’s a great episode focusing on cutting edge innovation in Catholic schools.

Catholic School Matters Radio Hour

This week’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour features four guests from the NCEA Convention in Chicago.  First, Dr. Timothy O’Malley from the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame comes on to discuss the role of liturgy in Catholic schools.  He points out the liturgy should be worship with prayer at its center and discusses what good liturgy should look like.  Liturgy isn’t just communicating a message or completing our Catholic identity—it’s a prayer space bringing silence and contemplation into the lives of our students.  He also mentions the “fault lines” of conflict around the Mass and mentions that next summer (2020) the McGrath Institute will be hosting a summer conference focusing on liturgy in Catholic schools.  He also mentioned his book Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Life which summarizes his thoughts on liturgy.

Jill Anable from the Diocese of Grand Rapids discusses her efforts on establishing a new professional development protocol based on Robert Marzano’s instructional labs.  These classroom learning labs are innovative and are bringing excitement and innovation to the Catholic schools in Grand Rapids which are seeing growth.

Julie Cantillon from the Diocese of San Diego discusses the great leadership team they have in San Diego and how they have been able to respond to the professional development needs of their schools in San Diego.  Julie has developed a great website featuring all their offerings as well as multiple newsletters highlighting their great programs.  Her model is certainly worth replicating and has borne fruit in new partnerships with their local Catholic university, USD.

Finally, my final guest is my old friend, Bernard Dumond.  He discusses how he came into Catholic education, his view on effective development programs, and his belief in the mission of Catholic schools.  His focus is on school vitality and growth.  He discusses how he has moved schools away from strategic planning and toward strategic thinking.  Because schools are closing due to low enrollment and finances, he is motivated to work for Catholic schools.  He discusses the impact of the Christian Brothers and Catholic schools on his life.

Here is another link to the podcast.

Catholic School Matters Top 5

This is my favorite edition of the newsletter of the year. Below you’ll find in chronological order the most clicked on links from each of the 21 editions of the newsletter this year. It’s a great smorgasbord of articles showing what was most interesting to the readers. Enjoy!

At the same time, I’m aware that many educators are looking for great books to read for the summer. Over this academic year, I was able to read 61 books (you can find my professional reading list here) and so I worked to identify the best. Here are the six books which impacted my practice the most this year:

  1. Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World (2002) by Henri Nouwen
  2. Rethinking Leadership: A Collection of Articles (2007) by Thomas J. Sergiovanni
  3. Making Disciples: A Handbook of Christian Moral Formation (1998) by Timothy E. O’Connell
  4. Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (2016) by Anders Ericsson & Robert Pool
  5. Leadership Can Be Taught (2005) by Sharon Daloz Parks
  6. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (2015) by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen

This is it for this school year! Enjoy your summer!

Top 5

In this week’s Catholic School Matters newsletter, I present the most impactful six books I read this year and the most popular links from each edition this year. I looked at those links and have picked out my favorite 5.  The Top 5:

  1. The story about Brother Placid resonated with me.  “With No More Cowboys, Monastery Quits the Cattle Business” is the story of how Assumption Abbey in North Dakota moved Brother Placid out of the feedlot.
  2. Ideological Bias Cannot Taint Our Approach to Sexual Abuse” from America magazine challenges our thinking about the sexual and leadership crises in the church.
  3. ’We’re a Family’ and Other School Norms Which Can Cause Burnout” from Jennifer Gonzalez (the Cult of Pedagogy blogger) challenges our approach to establishing school norms.
  4. I love articles on feedback.  One of the best was HBR’s “What Good Feedback Really Looks Like.”
  5. Finally, “Schools as Places of Joy: We are Responsible for the Cultures We Create” is a reminder of what we’re supposed to be about.

Those were my favorites. Enjoy! Have a great summer.

Podcast

This week’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour features four guests from the NCEA Convention in Chicago. First, Dr. Timothy O’Malley from the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame comes on to discuss the role of liturgy in Catholic schools. He points out the liturgy should be worship with prayer at its center and discusses what good liturgy should look like.  Liturgy isn’t just communicating a message or completing our Catholic identity—it’s a prayer space bringing silence and contemplation into the lives of our students. He also mentions the “fault lines” of conflict around the Mass and mentions that next summer (2020) the McGrath Institute will be hosting a summer conference focusing on liturgy in Catholic schools. He also mentioned his book Bored Again Catholic: How the Mass Could Save Your Lifewhich summarizes his thoughts on liturgy.

Jill Anable from the Diocese of Grand Rapids discusses her efforts on establishing a new professional development protocol based on Robert Marzano’s instructional labs. These classroom learning labs are innovative and are bringing excitement and innovation to the Catholic schools in Grand Rapids which are seeing growth.

Julie Cantillon from the Diocese of San Diego discusses the great leadership team they have in San Diego and how they have been able to respond to the professional development needs of their schools in San Diego. Julie has developed a great website featuring all their offerings as well as multiple newsletters highlighting their great programs. Her model is certainly worth replicating and has borne fruit in new partnerships with their local Catholic university, USD. Finally, my final guest is my old friend, Bernard Dumond. He discusses how he came into Catholic education, his view on effective development programs, and his belief in the mission of Catholic schools. His focus is on school vitality and growth. He discusses how he has moved schools away from strategic planning and toward strategic thinking.  Because schools are closing due to low enrollment and finances, he is motivated to work for Catholic schools. He discusses the impact of the Christian Brothers and Catholic schools on his life.

Catholic School Matters Radio Hour

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, TWINCS, 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.

Catholic School Matters Top 5

At the NCEA Conference I attended a session on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) by Dr. Lauren Casella of LMU and Tracy Mayhue of St. Anastasia’s in Los Angeles. I picked up the book All Learning is Social and Emotional and discovered how this emphasis on SEL can reshape our approach to learning. I recommend the book for delineating the skills of SEL and offering practical suggestions. It occurred to me that the SEL approach is essentially Catholic—it focuses on individual student formation and on the whole person.

When I read this article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how a teacher came back to teaching when she found a school which focused on relationships, I saw the same SEL theoretical framework. If we put our relationships first, we’ll have different schools. And this needs to come from our leaders who need to demonstrate Social Emotional Leadership.

I saw this article from HBR entitled “Pressure Doesn’t Have to Turn into Stress” and thought of the kind of Social Emotional Leadership that our leaders need to adopt, a skill of turning pressure into productivity and away from destructive stress.

But what does Social Emotional Leadership look like? We lost one of the best examples with the passing of Jean Vanier last week. The founder of the L’Arche movement, Vanier believed the able-bodied and disabled could/should live together in community. In fact, the disabled members were called “core members” and put at the center of the community. Relationships weren’t just important to Vanier—they were essential.

How would your leadership practice look different if you elevated the social and emotional? How different would our schools look?

Top 5

This week’s newsletter features a blog on Social Emotional Leadership and some great articles, too.  The Top 5:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, “Ideological Bias Cannot Taint Our Approach to Sexual Abuse” is a thoughtful piece from Matt Malone, SJ of America magazine. He’s right—many people find in the abuse crisis what they’re looking for rather than approaching the crisis (and the concurrent leadership crisis) with a beginner’s mind.  You might be growing tired of reading about the abuse crisis but I encourage you to read this article.  It’s really good.
  2. The next article is a piece on a retiring priest from Butte, Montana. It’s interesting to look at the Catholic-rich background of his life in the 1940s and 1950s.  Haffey is the real deal and it’s been a privilege for me to work with him a little.  It’s a great feature article and provides great insight into the priesthood.
  3. In the Leadership section, “3 Simple Habits to Improve Your Critical Thinking” is a great reminder about how we need to challenge our own thinking. The article recommends steps to take.  As we transition to summer, we welcome a little more time and space to do quality thinking.
  4. The next article is about “Fixing a Toxic Work Culture” and highlights the “toxic triad.” As we are encountering the May mayhem, it’s important to keep our eyes and ears open for toxicity.  We’re here to serve students and build the Kingdom.
  5. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first article is a challenging piece about how teaching has changed: “It’s Not Them, You Need to Evolve.” If you’ve ever spoken with a veteran teacher who is struggling to figure out how to reach students, you’ll see the same struggle in this article.

I’ll be back next week with my “Best Of” issue to close out the year.  Have a great week!

Podcast

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.