Category Archives: Catholic Schools Week

Celebrating Students in Catholic Education Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

The following article was contributed by Adam Cottos, 5th/6th grade Social Studies and Religion teacher at St. Michael School in Independence, Ohio and NCEA Social Media Influencer.

When I was growing up and attending St. Rocco School on Cleveland’s near west side, I was always excited for the week after the last Sunday in January. Why was that? Why did I get all excited for a week at the end of January and early February in cold, blustery, Cleveland, Ohio? Was it the hope for the possibility of a snow day? No. Was it because I could maybe go sled riding? No. Was it because it was Catholic Schools Week? YES!

Catholic Schools Week for me was a week of fun, excitement, activities we wouldn’t normally do, community building, and celebrating the fact that I was in a Catholic school. I was at a school where I could grow my faith socially, academically, and spiritually. One event that I remember during Catholic Schools Week at St. Rocco School was the annual Olympics. Our Olympics was a series of competitive events by grade levels. There were 3-legged race competitions, shoe lace tying, free throw shooting. These events were not meant to be very challenging, but they were meant to draw the school closer together through building excitement for learning and for our faith. Not to brag though, I was the free throw shooting champion for my class!

This is why I love Catholic Schools Week. It brings the school community closer and in return we draw closer to the community that surrounds our school. Our internal strength of Catholic education allows us to become stronger members of our overall community. I still find myself getting excited for Catholic Schools Week. I still get excited to tell the great stories of the school community that I am in now, St. Michael School in Independence, Ohio. Our school community does and will be showing our strong Catholicism within our community.

How will we show our faith? How will we grow our faith? How will we share our faith? We will do this together as one faith community. I find this very important. As a teacher at St. Michael School, I also find it important that we celebrate what our students are doing to become future leaders of our Catholic faith. I know that we have to share the experiences that allow our students to draw closer in their love for Jesus. Catholic Schools Week is the week we need to do this with the greatest joy possible.

So, how will I be celebrating my students today and throughout Catholic Schools Week? First, I must greet my students at the door. This is done with true care. I greet them with a smile. I remind myself each day that the reason I am here is because of my students. You truly don’t know how far that greeting will go. Second, take an interest in what they tell you. Listen to your students. I have found that learning a little fact about each student has made me connect with them. Celebrate their success within that interest, whether it be within the school or outside. Recognize their gifts and talents, wherever they may be.

As a teacher at St. Michael School, I also find it important that we celebrate what our students are doing to become future leaders of our Catholic faith.

Third, I find ways to share the successes to parents. I do this through social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. I attempt to connect to parents where they are. They want to see what their child is doing, so I share what they are doing. This is what Catholic Schools Week is about. It’s about building a relationship in faith and academics with supporters of Catholic education.

Fourth, I promote the importance of service. I explain to students how service to one another and to our community is an element of our faith. St. Michael School holds an annual canned food drive during Catholic Schools Week. Our school makes sure that students have an opportunity to serve those in our area. Students need to see ways that make a difference to those in our own neighborhoods.

Fifth, I always like to take time during Catholic Schools Week to teach students about the saints and other important figures who have made Catholic education possible. Having students learn about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Bosco, St. Gemma Galgani, and St. Therese of Lisieux can lead them to be more like saints in ways they never thought possible. Students need to know that there are support and faith leaders while being educated in a Catholic school.

Sixth, students need opportunities to lead. I want students to be able to show their gifts and talents by any means that they can. As an educator, students need to lead in ways that benefit their growth socially, academically, emotionally, and spiritually. At St. Michael School, students are leaders for our weekly all-school mass. Students will share their talents of music, reading scripture, and planning out the mass. I know students have many talents and passions that have to be utilized to strengthen our faith community.

For me, Catholic Schools Week is a week to have students grow in their faith and passion for their school. I want students to go home each day excited about what they learned and did in their classrooms. As a Catholic educator, I know that I need to show my students what makes Catholic education different than other educational options. I need to celebrate their achievements not only academically, but achievements in their faith as well. When a student is caught doing a kind act for another student…celebrate it. When a student does better than they expect on a paper or test…celebrate it. If a student has an “a-ha” moment on a difficult subject…celebrate it.

I’m excited for this Catholic Schools Week! I’m excited to feel the joy and energy that will be flowing through the hallways of St. Michael School. Catholic education is my passion. I’m eager to share and celebrate my students. Catholic Schools Week is the week to show off what our school does. Catholic Schools Week is a week to have our students Learn, Serve, Lead, and Succeed!

Schools celebrate students during National Catholic Schools Week by planning enjoyable and meaningful activities for them and recognizing their accomplishments. 

Nationwide Kahoot – Celebrating Your Students

The following post was contributed by Erin Galley, Teacher at St. Cecelia School in Clearwater, Florida.

Imagine a world where the classroom expands beyond the hallway, beyond the campus, and into other schools.  Catholic Schools Week is a time for students to celebrate their Catholic Education and faith.  I attended Catholic Schools since I was in kindergarten and every year we celebrated Catholic Schools Week in our classroom and in our school.  It wasn’t until I was teaching in a Catholic School that I realized the magnitude of the week.  We have time set aside to celebrate and share our faith!  The classroom and school celebrations are vital and fun, but imagine if we could help our students share their faith beyond our campus.  Think of the power and the pride they would be able to feel as they realized that thousands of other students are doing the exact same thing across the nation.  This Catholic Schools Week let’s share our faith across the nation and the world.


As Catholic Schools, we are part of a global community.  Through technology we have the ability to interact with other classes and schools and help our students to make connections.  This year we are organizing our 3rd annual Catholic Schools Week Collaboration and Kahoot.  We have had hundreds of students participate in the past and would like to see that number grow even more.

If you are who you should be, you will set your whole world on fire. – St. Catherine of Sienna

The process is simple.  Click on the link here and sign up  On Thursday February 1st 2018 we will be having 2 sessions facilitated through Zoom, the first will be at 9:30 AM and the second will be at 1:30 PM Eastern Time.  Students will be able to participate in a game about our Catholic Faith through the Website Kahoot.  Zoom will become a shared classroom for all participants and we will be able to compete against each other in the Kahoot game.  We are also asking for your participation through the week.  Please post pictures and share ideas on the Padlet Wall throughout Catholic Schools Week.  All of the technology used in these activities is free.  If you need support please feel free to email me (Erin Galley) or Fran Siracusa

This year, let’s let our students see that across the nation and the world there are people who share their beliefs and values and who wear plaid uniforms! Please prayerfully consider joining this activity.  Don’t let technology concerns stop you, we will provide as much support as possible. Thank you for all that you do for our students!

Schools celebrate students during National Catholic Schools Week by planning enjoyable and meaningful activities for them and recognizing their accomplishments. 

Celebrating Your Community

The following article was contributed by Chris Cosentino, President at St. Maria Goretti High School in Hagerstown, MD.


“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stew-ards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10). Since its inception, service to and in the community has been a key component of Catholic education. While it is important for Cath-olic schools to offer a rigorous academic program, everything we do must be centered in our Catholic Identity. Catholic schools guide students along their faith journey and help them come to truly live out the Gospel message by “doing for the least of these.”

When students participate in service projects they are able to demonstrate the values held by our Catholic faith. They learn their world is bigger than them and that God has called each of us to follow the example of Jesus. During the Last Supper Jesus washes the feet of his disciples and says to them, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:15 On his Apostolic Visit to the United States in 2015 Pope Francis told the priests he visited with that when he looked at their shoes they should not be clean and polished. Instead they should be scuffed and dirty because they need to be working directly with the faithful. That mes-sage holds just as true for Catholic school personnel and the students they serve.

Like St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Katharine Drexel, St. Teresa of Calcutta and St. John Neumann to name a few, we have plenty of role models to remind us of the importance to offer service to those in need. These are shining examples for what we are called to do as disciples of Jesus. These examples are not just for our students; administrators, faculty and staff are also called to volunteer as well. Service projects are also a wonderful time to collaborate with students’ fami-lies.
Our students are our best ambassadors. Allowing them to go out beyond their schools and offer service not only reminds everyone of the value Catholic education has to offer, it allows all of us to “Celebrate our Community.”

A central aspect of Catholic education is learning the importance of service to others. When students take part in service activities they demonstrate the values and faith gained through Catholic education.

Celebrating Your Parish

The following article was contributed by Mickie Abetemarco.

As a parent of four children who attended a parish school, I have fond memories of the role of the parish in their educational and faith journeys. The parish was a part of our family. We celebrated joys and sorrows together. Each first Friday of the month, the school would attend the parish morning Mass and every seventh and eighth grader was partnered with a pre-k or kindergarten student. They cared for their “buddy” and showed them how to participate in the Liturgy. The call to be more during a time in their lives when the focus was usually on themselves was a gift they would recognize as they grew.

It was September 11, 2001; our school laid under a reservoir that fed into New York City. I dropped my second grader and eighth grader off like any other morning – who would have known how much would change in the next few hours? As the towers were hit, concern was on everyone’s mind. Our principal received a call that she had 10 minutes to evacuate the school and move the students to higher ground in case the dam was hit. She told the seventh and eighth graders to buddy with their kids and get them on the buses. The evacuation went smoothly and all were safe. A few weeks later, she told the older children how proud she was of them and that if anything happened again, they were to make sure they got everyone out safely. The students told her they would not leave without their buddies.

This is a story of family and faith. As we celebrate this Catholic Schools Week it is so important to recognize the role of the parish in our lives. Our children have the privilege to learn and live their faith every day. Celebrate your gifts, your mission and the family of believers with everyone in your parish. Shared with us your moments of grace as a parish community.

Catholic schools benefit all year long from the religious guidance, prayers and support parishes provide. Many parishes join in the National Catholic Schools Week celebration by devoting a Mass to Catholic education.

New Teacher Initiative Launched Through National Catholic Sisters Week

The following article was contributed by Christina Capecchi, National Catholic Sisters Week media coordinator.

The team behind National Catholic Sisters Week has launched a new initiative for Catholic high schools, inviting them to get involved in a special way.

March 8-14 will mark the fourth annual celebration of women religious, an official component of Women’s History Month, which takes place each March. NCSW is intended to raise awareness of the profound impact of Catholic sisters. Across the country, people plan events to elevate women religious. They range widely from retreats to movie screenings, from tours of the motherhouse to ice cream socials. Many are simple: a coffee date, a bouquet of flowers, a handwritten note of appreciation. Some involve inviting a sister to an already scheduled event, such as leading prayer before a board meeting or basketball game.

Now Site Director Molly Hazelton is inviting religion teachers at Catholic high schools across the country to support the cause by inviting their classes to plan an NCSW event sometime in March.

“We’re completely open to whatever they may plan,” said Hazelton, who is based at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. “There’s no right or wrong, nothing too simple or small in scale. We’re looking forward to seeing these teens’ creativity and hearing their fresh voices.”

Hazelton is offering a $100 stipend to each teacher whose class plans an NCSW event. Learn more at or email for further information.

Syracuse Catholic Schools Participate in Second Annual Diocesan-wide Day of Service

The following article was contributed by Nicole Ossevoort, Communications & Social Media Specialist, Diocese of Syracuse.

On Monday, January 30th, the 22 component schools in the four regions of the Diocese of Syracuse, New York kicked off Catholic Schools Week 2017 with the second annual diocesan-wide ‘Day of Service.’

In Oswego, students at Trinity Catholic made fleece blankets for the Linus Project at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital.

At Blessed Sacrament in Syracuse, the kids made sandwiches for the Rescue Mission in Syracuse.  They also donated adult white socks for the homeless, and celebrated afterward with a good old-fashioned ‘Sock Hop.’

In Johnson City, students at St. James assembled and delivered ‘Thank You’ boxes to the police department to show their gratitude to local law enforcement.  The boxes included treats as well as a St. Michael the Archangel medal (the patron saint of police officers).

At Rome Catholic, older students helped the younger kids assemble care packages filled with personal care items.  The packages were distributed at the Rome Rescue Mission.

Schools also donated paper goods to Francis House, a home for the terminally ill, made sandwiches for Joseph’s House, a home for moms and babies, performed songs for seniors at a nursing home, and made thank you cards for seminarians from the diocese!  Photos from the Day of Service are available by visiting the Catholic School Office – Diocese of Syracuse Facebook page.

The schools in the diocese are committed to being ‘communities of faith, knowledge, and service,’ and a day focused on giving back to the community is an important part of our school’s Catholic identity.  Superintendent Bill Crist and representatives from the diocesan office of communications, The Catholic Sun, and Syracuse Catholic TV were out and about on the Day of Service visiting various schools and sharing photos and video from the big day on social media!

This year, the Catholic Schools Office decided to get in on the action, too.  Representatives from the office, as well as Danielle Cummings, diocesan chancellor and director of communications, rolled up their sleeves and put on their hair nets to volunteer in the kitchen at the Samaritan Center on Friday, February 3rd.  Some staff were stationed in the ‘Family Area,’ where those with small children were served instead of walking through the cafeteria-style line.  Others were on clean-up duty, but all pitched in to sweep and mop at the end of their shift.  “These are folks in our neighborhood, and we need to show grace and mercy,” explained one regular volunteer who guided Catholic School Office staff during their shift.

The Day of Service certainly takes weeks, if not months, of planning and coordination, but the end result is worth the time investment: it’s just another example of how our Catholic school communities know, live, and share their faith!


Celebrating Families: NCEA Parent News

NCEA has developed a series of flyers for families to assist schools with marketing and enrollment management, and also to give families some national perspective on Catholic schools.  Each month, member schools will receive an electronic flyer that they may choose to use in their communications with families.

Click here to access the Parent News page.

The objectives of this series are:

  • To educate families on the benefits of a Catholic school education
  • To prepare families to build enrollment by witnessing to other families
  • To inform and educate families about parental choice

Parent News Archive

September: Share the Good News about Catholic Education

October: Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith

November: Catholic Schools: Communities of Academic Excellence

December: Full and Fair Parental Educational Choice: A Path to Justice

January: Parent Ambassadors

February: Working Locally for Parental Choice Programs

Catholic Schools Week Teacher Spotlight: Maureen Callaghan

This article was contributed by Kathi Stalzer, Spanish teacher at Ss. Simon & Jude Cathedral School and EdTech Coach in Phoenix, Az. 

                           Maureen Callaghan, far right, with her 2016 Aerospace Champions

Science at Ss. Simon & Jude Cathedral School (SSJ) in Phoenix, Arizona, is an incredible experience for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students. They study physics, chemistry, robotics, marine biology, genetics, geology, and more. A robust and challenging curriculum comes alive through a dynamic teacher, Maureen Callaghan.

With Ms. Callaghan, SSJ students have the opportunity to participate in a STEM camp, where she says some experience snow for the very first time. Maureen is animated as she talks about students being able to see a clear night sky without city lights, full of constellations they have read about.

A highlight for Ms. Callaghan’s students is the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge. Maureen has had students participate for 15 years–and her students have won first place 5 times! She proudly tells that she has had students in the finals fourteen times, and three years had two teams competing in the finals at the same time. As a result of this competition, Maureen reveals that students learn life skills such as commitment to a project, resolving conflicts, time management, communication, written and oral presentation skills, all while learning about the complexity of science.

If you want to see what teaching is all about, ask Maureen about the Marine Biology Trip that 8th graders take every year. Her face lights up with joy and her words trip over each other in haste to explain. “The kids get to immerse themselves in an environment that is so uniquely different than what they are familiar with.” She tells about living on two small scuba boats in close quarters for three days. “It allows for bonding. It’s a life stage, as opposed to a classroom setting.” Maureen laughs as she explains how the trip began. “I reserved the spot on the boat one month before I got the job! Our principal, Sr. Raphael Quinn, IBVM, said yes to a one-time experience that has grown into an 18-year tradition.”

The students see dolphins, manta rays, jellyfish, harbor seals, pelicans, bald eagles, and whales, and snorkel with sea lions swimming alongside. Maureen watches her students gain confidence and grace over three days as they dive down. “I love to be able to sit back on that boat and watch the kids do their labs, or at the touch-tank. They discover the ocean.” If you ask Maureen about the amount of work involved, she says simply “I see it as an extension of me, not as my job, because I love doing it.”

Principal Sr. Raphael Quinn shares that “her passion for science is communicated to her students in an exciting, creative enthusiastic manner.” Sr. Raphael explained that many of Maureen’s students come back to tell of their success in the science field.

Maureen received her BS in psychology with a minor in biology, and continued on in a post-baccalaureate program to become a teacher. Later she completed her MA in curriculum and instruction. Eighteen of her 21 years teaching have been spent at Ss. Simon & Jude. When asked why she chose to teach at SSJ, Maureen smiled. “I feel like it’s our family community. It’s where my children went to school. I love the education they got, so why wouldn’t I be at the best school I found for my kids?”

Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers

This article was contributed by Cari White, Campus Minister at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, OH. 

Catholic Schools Week provides an important opportunity to take time and proclaim to the world the incredible gifts and opportunities that are found in Catholic schools.  As a Campus Minister in an all-male high school, I take Catholic Schools Week as an opportunity to reflect on the important ways our school helps students to grow and learn, and how we help our students understand and recognize the wonderful and unique opportunities a Catholic education gives them.

It is my responsibility to make sure our Catholic identity  remains in the center of what we do.  From the statue of Mary and Joseph in the main entrance to the student who leads morning pray at the start of each day, everything is centered around our Catholic identity. While we celebrate mass together as a community once a month, there is no better time then Catholic Schools Week, giving us an opportunity to further talk about the different opportunities we have for prayer and the sacraments.

At St. Edward, an all-male 9-12 High School founded by the Brothers in Holy Cross, we take great care to heed the mantra, “the mind will not be educated at the expense of the heart,” a quote from the Congregations’ founder, Blessed Basil Moreau.  This is especially important for me, as I work hard to plant the seeds of faith in our students.  Lately, I’ve also tried to go a step further and train our students to be seed planters themselves.  I have a dedicated group of junior and senior students who serve as student ministers, responsible for planning different activities around advent and lent, lead prayer, serve as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, lead retreats for the underclassmen and serve as role models for the school.  Over the years, students themselves have helped grow this program, to include a peer ministry program where students can reach out to talk to specially trained ministers, but also to lead and write prayers and prayer services on their own.  Only in Catholic schools is this faith development and attention to the whole person – mind and heart- possible.

Just last week I was especially proud of a few of my Student Ministers who took it upon themselves to write, set-up and lead a prayer service for a fallen police officer who none of the students knew, but was an alum of our school.  The student lead insisted on working on it himself, as he knew I had a lot of projects going on (I was getting ready to lead a brand-new retreat for juniors the next day) and knew it would help if he took over.  He wasn’t fazed when the media showed up (and even streamed the entire service online).  He took what he had learned and used that to bring hope and comfort to our community in a time of great need.  This is just one simple example of the many ways we try to educate the minds and hearts of our students – to see the face of Christ.

As part of Catholic Schools week, we are launching a new ministry called Labre, where a team of students and adults take food, blankets and supplies to the homeless camps in Cleveland.  As St. Theresa of Calcutta said “if you judge someone, you have no time to love them.”  Labre gives us an opportunity to take our students past a place of judgement and into a place where they can love and help them. I don’t think there is a more noble and important cause then to help the world’s future leaders and citizens to see another person instead of making judgments about that person.  It is an honor and blessing to be a part of that every week.

Catholic schools offer one the opportunity to grow not only in faith, but in service, education and in communion with others.  I can’t think of a greater opportunity or responsibility as we serve the young Church.

Weekly Round Up 2/3/17

Didn’t have the chance to check in with NCEA Talk each day? We’ve got you covered. Each Friday NCEA Talk will post a roundup of Catholic education news and resources from the week.

Celebrating Families: NCEA Parent News

Catholic Schools Week Teacher Spotlight: Maureen Callaghan

Celebrating Faculty, Staff and Volunteers

Bearing Witness: A Teacher’s Reflection

Catholic Schools Week: Celebrating the Nation

ESSA Overview: Getting the Most Out of the Every Student Succeeds Act

NCEA Announces Inaugural Youth Virtues, Valor and Vision Awards

NCEA Monthly Feature School: St. Paul School in Westerville, Ohio

Syracuse Diocese Catholic Schools to Kick Off Catholic Schools Week with Day of Service

National Catholic Schools Week: Day of Service

Catholic Schools in an Increasingly Hispanic Church

National Catholic Schools Week: January 29 – February 4, 2017

Catholic School Educators: Call to Discipleship

NCEA is pleased to share its new weekly reflection series “Catholic School Educators: Call to Discipleship” for the new liturgical year. This series shares reflections for educators contributed by Justin McClain, teacher at Bishop McNamara High School and author of Called to Teach: Daily Inspiration for Catholic Educators. The weekly reflections are a regular feature in our Friday Weekly Round Up blog posts on – check back each Friday for a new weekly reflection.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – February 5, 2017

Gospel Reading: Matthew 5:13-16

“Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Within your school community, you are more than likely now well into the third academic quarter, which experienced teachers commonly recognize as the proverbial “desert” of the school year (not to be confused with the “dessert” of the school year – teachers and students alike agree that that is the summer). Throughout the third quarter, make an extra effort to invigorate your students and keep them enthused, inspired, and hopeful. Rest assured that they will appreciate, sooner than later, your efforts that will serve as a shining light to keep them focused on what will matter far beyond this or any third quarter: the kingdom of God!

How will you strive to help your students spiritually thrive throughout the third academic quarter?