Category Archives: Proclaim

Fatima showcases new technology at Cyber Sip and See

The following is a re-post of Fatima showcases new technology at Cyber Sip and See.

Our Lady of Fatima School is showing off its new classroom technology.

The Catholic school in Lafayette hosted its Cyber Sip and See event tonight for parents and alumni to see the hands-on equipment that students and teachers use on a daily basis.

Among the gear showcased by students and teachers were iPads, computerized whiteboards and robotics equipment.

School leaders say donations from Fatima alumni helped pay for that gear.

We wanted to show our faculty, our parents, our grandparents, and any of our alumni what their money is going to. So when you’re donating to our technology department, we want everybody to come into our classrooms and see where the money, if they’re donating, is going to the new boards and the new iPads. We want everybody to realize this is where the money is going, and it’s worth it, said Beth Resweber, Blue and Gold chairman and member of the OLF Foundation.

2019 Pueri Cantores Festivals & Catholic Identity through Music

Access the individual pdfs or visit

2019 Pueri Cantores Festivals Schedule

Catholic Identity through Music: Fostering the Faith of Young People in Parishes and Schools

All Are Welcome: AHA Focuses on Greater Unity

The Academy of the Holy Angels has reopened to students with the 2018-19 theme “Love gives everything” and the featured song “All Are Welcome,” which reflect AHA’s commitment to respect and unity within the school’s diverse community. This fall, 30 students have launched a Diversity Council that will strive to value each individual’s unique gifts, while AHA’s administrators, faculty, and staff are being encouraged to be mindful of implicit biases.

In a special presentation at AHA, Notre Dame of Maryland University’s Associate Dean for Inclusion and Community Standards Dr. Brandy Garlic discussed how implicit biases can derail one’s conscious commitment to fairness.

“I think having a presenter like Dr. Garlic is another opportunity for us to focus on growing as a community and to be sure that every member of our community has a safe learning environment and where everyone feels respected,” AHA President Melinda Hanlon stated.

Dr. Garlic urged AHA’s adult leaders to identify susceptibilities to unwanted bias, practice mindfulness of how other people experience the world, speak up when policies are not working as intended, and mitigate the unwanted effects of bias.

“First be aware of your biases,” Dr. Garlic stated. “We can’t solve a problem without knowing what it is.”

Although bias is a neutral term, it may indicate a positive or negative preference, Dr. Garlic said. She explained that people often rely on implicit, or unconscious, biases to fill in gaps when they are presented with incomplete information.

It’s possible to form evaluations of people, places, things, and ideas based on inaccurate information and stereotypes, she noted, adding that these evaluations can be made even if those making them do not endorse a given stereotype. Judgments based on biases held outside of someone’s conscious awareness can create barriers to equity.

“Our brains try to make sense of information based on stored memories, but we can have distorted, inaccurate, or incomplete information.”

Every moment, we are bombarded with 11 million bits of information, but only 40 bits can be processed consciously, she shared.

“We rely on implicit cognition to move through the world.”

Dr. Garlic noted that uncovering biases is critical to ensuring that intentions and impact align. She stated that people associate characteristics with the way individuals look and internalize these ideas at a young age. As a result, she underscored the importance of being mindful of what is being said to young people.

The speaker pointed out that implicit biases can emerge when there are cultural differences between students and their teachers. She added that, while the majority of teachers in the United States are white, their students are multicultural.

Demographic differences can lead to culturally influenced perceptions of student behavior, Dr. Garlic said. These differences can also affect what teaching methods are being used.

She cited a 2010 Stockoff study that revealed a connection between implicit bias and teaching style. The study involved white teachers and Arab students, and indicated that teachers with a pro-white bias were more likely to “teach to the test” with their Arab students. The study also indicated that teachers who used culturally responsive teaching and practiced respect for everyone tended to use mastery focused teaching practices with all of their students.

“The negative effects of automatic and unconscious biases can be interrupted or prevented,” Dr. Garlic summarized.

“Understand your own bias,” she stressed, adding that preferences can be revealed through an implicit association test that is available online and through brain imaging technology.

She recommended meaningful interactions with a diverse group of people, where the intergroup contact is cooperative, rather than competitive. Dr. Garlic also suggested exposure to counter-stereotypical people to help break patterns of generalization.

Dr. Garlic’s presentation was organized by AHA Director of Mission and Ministry Joan Connelly, who is also serving as the AHA Diversity Council’s adviser.

We want to continue to raise awareness about how some of the things we say and do impact others, Connelly said. She explained that she invited Dr. Garlic to speak so the awareness could begin with the adult members of the school community.

Connelly said the Diversity Council will honor the goals of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. She pointed to “You Are Sent,” the SSND constitution, which states, “The true development of each person fosters both diversity and a potential for greater unity.”

“I hope that it’s something with a very broad vision,” Connelly said of the council, adding that the new group will be working with existing AHA organizations, including the Black and Hispanic Club and the Asian Cultural Club.

“In the spirit of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Diversity Council will actively encourage the environment existing within the school that respects and values the dignity of each person, thus enabling her to reach the fullness of her potential. The Diversity Council works to support a community where uniqueness is appreciated and unity is valued,” according to the group’s mission statement.

To date, the council has 30 members in grades 10-12, and several freshmen have expressed interest getting involved.

Asked about the launch of the council, Connelly noted that the group will provide a voice for students. She said some students have expressed concerns over inappropriate words that surfaced on social media, and disrespectful behavior from the general public toward those who speak world languages. Connelly stressed that Holy Angels has chosen to make sure every student feels welcome and accepted for who she is.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

Disney animator credits Catholic schools with foundation for his success

The following is a re-post of Disney animator credits Catholic schools with foundation for his success by Joanne Fox.


Ron and Tami Clements pose in front of student art work during a tour of Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City, Iowa. Ron Clements, a 1971 graduate of the school, visited his alma mater Sept. 13 and talked to students about his journey to becoming a Disney animator. He also is a screenwriter and a producer- director and has worked on a number of award-winning Disney films, including the 2017 blockbuster “Moana.” (CNS photo/Jerry L. Mennenga)

Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the 2017 blockbuster “Moana.”

But at heart, he will always be a Midwesterner and grateful for his Catholic education, he told students at his alma mater.

Clements, a 1971 alum of the Bishop Heelan High School in Sioux City, visited with students Sept. 13. He was in Sioux City as a major presenter at the Sioux City International Film Festival, held Sept. 12-16.

As a Crusader, the school’s mascot, Clements was recognized for his artistic talent as the staff cartoonist at the Heelan student newspaper, Heelan Highline.

Journalism teacher Mary Castle, who attended Clements’ video presentation, insisted she knew her student would flourish in his life’s work.

“He was quiet, but clearly had tremendous gifts,” the former instructor, now 91, told The Catholic Globe, Sioux City’s diocesan newspaper. “You could tell the talent was there and I knew that he would be taking one step after another in a successful career.”

At 15, Clements worked at KCAU-TV, Channel 9, the Sioux City ABC affiliate, where another Heelan graduate George Lindblade and Heelan parent Bill Turner — both associated with the station — helped Clements with his journey to Disney.

“I had done some Super 8 films on my own and brought them down to Channel 9 with the idea of maybe we could do some commercials,” Clements said. “And then I asked them if I could use the equipment to do my own film, and they said, ‘Sure!'”

Clements crafted a hand-drawn, 15-minute film in which he did all the aspects, including the voices. “Shades of Sherlock Holmes” caught the attention of folks at Hanna-Barbera, a cartoon producer. That led to where Clements has spent the bulk of his career – at Disney Animation Studios in Los Angeles.

With John Musker, Clements co-directed “Moana,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin” and “The Princess and the Frog” — all films nominated for Academy Awards. He also helped supervise, animate or write “The Great Mouse Detective,” “Hercules” and “Treasure Planet,” to name a few.

“The films that we make are meant to be films for everybody and they’re films that I think are for all ages and for people everywhere,” he said. “We want those films to resonate.”

In the Kiddie Crusaders Preschool across the street from the high school, Clements waxed nostalgic about taking art classes in the same building more than four decades ago, taught by Sister Mary de Lourdes, a Sister of Christian Charity.

The kids serenaded Clements with the hit song “How Far I’ll Go,” while “Moana” played on a large screen TV. To repay that graciousness, the left-handed animator stood at a white board and drew “Moana” characters Pua the Pig and Hei the Rooster.

“He really hasn’t drawn in years,” confided Tami Clements, his wife of 29 years, who accompanied her husband on the Heelan tour. “He practiced and practiced before we came out here and kept asking me if it was good.”

Clad in an ocean-blue shirt, with “Moana” colorful characters, Clements — with a good growth of facial hair — was clearly out of uniform, but emphasized he never had detention at school.

“I was only called to 318 once,” he said, referring to the infamous dean’s office. “Father Merle Kollasch had a somewhat upsetting caricature of the janitor and wanted to know if I had drawn it. I told him I had not, and really, I had not.”

It was a trip down memory lane for Clements, as he visited the former school, set to be razed sometime in the future, and was in awe at the new $30 million Bishop Heelan High School.

The 65-year-old Clements credited instructors who provided a strong base for his livelihood.

“Mrs. (Helen) Socknat was my English teacher and she let me draw caricatures when we studied ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream,'” he said. “I had Sister de Lourdes for all four years of art and Miss Castle let me be the editorial artist for the student newspaper.”

The education Clements received also was important in his career.

The Catholic faith was clearly a big part of this school,” he said. “Not only that, it is a valuable part of the school and the education it provides.

The film festival presented “Moana” at the Orpheum Theatre in Sioux City, the movie house where 9-year-old Clements first saw “Pinocchio” and fell in love with animation.

“I sort of decided somewhere in my head that’s what I want to do with my life. I want to be an animator. I want to work at Disney and that’s what led me there,” he said.

“And now, that same theater is showing my movie, Moana,” Clements marveled. “My life has come full circle.”

Joanne Fox is managing editor of The Catholic Globe, newspaper of the Diocese of Sioux City.

St. Francis Xavier School Donates School Supplies To Empower Children Across The Globe

The following article a re-post of St. Francis Xavier School Donates School Supplies To Empower Children Across The Globe by Sara Kraft.

Third graders at St. Francis Xavier School are pictured with school janitor George Ballah who grew up in Liberia. (Sara Kraft/Key photo)

“When I was growing up, my parents struggled to afford school fees and school supplies,” explained George Ballah, janitor at St. Francis Xavier School in St. Joseph since 2016. George is originally from Liberia. “They would buy my brother and I a notebook and pencil to share. My parents cut the pencil in half. One of us would have the eraser and the other one would not.” George noted this half pencil was expected to last half of a school year and so they would be very careful when sharpening it.

George said it is still difficult for people in his home region of Liberia to afford school supplies. Many students walk an hour barefoot to even attend school. If it rains while the students are walking to school, they have wet uniforms and it could ruin their one notebook. Students attempt to use plastic bags or use leaves to try to protect their meager school supplies.

George has been in the United States for 13 years now. “It’s one of my greatest passions to help those back home.” However, George had no way to do so until he started working at St. Francis Xavier School.

George has been in the United States for 13 years now. “It’s one of my greatest passions to help those back home.” However, George had no way to do so until he started working at St. Francis Xavier School.

After meeting George and hearing his stories, students at St. Francis Xavier School decided to help his community. Teachers had noticed that, near the end of the school year, many students simply tossed their unused school supplies with the intention of buying new school supplies for the following year. At the end of the 2017-2018 school year, students were given the option to donate these supplies to George’s village in Liberia.

The St. Francis Xavier Student Council, consisting of 12 student leaders from grades four through eight, spearheaded the campaign to raise funds to ship the collected items. Students raised over $1,200 to assist with this project and others with a month long Read-A-Thon where students received donations based on the number of books or total time read during the 2017-18 school year. Six barrels were sent to Liberia, a distance of more than 5,600 miles. Three and a half barrels were filled with school supplies and books, and the other two and a half contained clothing (including old St. Francis Xavier School uniforms) and shoes. Each barrel cost $600 dollars to ship and the barrels were sent on August 18.

George expects the shipment to take two months to reach his village. The barrels were first taken by pickup truck to a shipment place in Des Moines, Iowa. Once they arrive in Liberia, there will be at least three stops to transport them to their final destination in Sinoe County.

These supplies will last them a long time,” George noted. “It was a huge, huge, help.

I gave them some of my paper and pencils because some of the kids in George’s country don’t have many pencils and much paper,” third grader Sarah Garvey said. “It made me happy and proud to share with them.

“We do many things at St. Francis Xavier School for charity, but this is about helping our neighbors throughout the world in a spirit of social justice,” stated Darin Pollard, principal of St. Francis Xavier School. “Charity meets the needs of a person or persons with immediate assistance of basic needs such as food and clean water. Social justice helps to create a society where people can meet these needs by creating a better ‘environment’ to personally thrive, prosper and benefit in a way that is based on ‘justice for all’ as we say in our own Pledge of Allegiance each day.”

St. Francis Xavier School has also supported schools in other countries. They previously sent school books to the Philippines in order to assist a family member of a St. Francis Xavier parishioner. Additionally, they have sent out of date computers and a sunshine box — a portable solar panel with ten charging ports — to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Africa. The sunshine box was developed by St. Joseph Bishop LeBlond High School alum Conner Hazelrigg.

“As an educational entity, we know the value of education as the key to helping people change their lives,” continued Pollard. “We teach that not only are we a worldwide Catholic church, but we are called to look out for others who are less fortunate than us, whether they are our neighbors, like at Noyes Home, or children across the globe trying to get an education to make a better community, nation and world.”

George was very, very grateful for the school supplies and knows they will make a difference in his community. He hopes this shipment is just the beginning and his dream is to one day start a library in his capital city.

Using BUNCEE to Transform Education at the Bridgeport Diocese!

The following is re-post of Using BUNCEE to Transform Education at the Bridgeport Diocese! 

The Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Schools (Fairfield County, CT), is transforming the paradigm of Catholic education. This requires a bold change in the way that we look at instruction, assessment and the classroom environment. Our personalized learning initiative will begin with the 2018-19 school year at 6 of our 30 schools. In preparation for this launch, all 30 schools received professional development on using BUNCEE in the classroom during the 2017-18 school year.

Why did we choose BUNCEE to help kick off our personalized learning initiative? Students love BUNCEE because it’s engaging, and that excites the teachers! With BUNCEE, students can communicate via words, pictures, drawings, music, and video—all in one application. Using BUNCEE is intuitive for students, and teachers don’t have to spend a lot of instructional time showing students how to use it. BUNCEE is adaptable to any age group. While its appeal is obvious for younger students, older students can showcase their knowledge by the subject level and sophistication of their presentation designs.


Teachers mention ease of use as one of the main benefits of BUNCEE. The built-in safe search uses Creative Commons Images, and Youtube searches are performed within BUNCEE itself, so that any fears teachers, administration or parents have of their children surfing the internet and stumbling on an inappropriate subject matter, is quickly dispelled. The camera, voice recording, and video features are simple to use, and the drag and drop feature makes creating a BUNCEE effortless. It brings many resources together in one place

What we like best about BUNCEE’s use in personalized learning is that it’s great for differentiated instruction, small groups, and specific learning interests—students consider it an extension of their voice.

BUNCEE brings many media resources together in one place, which allows students to demonstrate their knowledge in a more personal way via media they select. It reaches the students with more diverse learning styles and gives them a platform to exhibit their understanding. Students love the stickers and animations and challenge themselves to earn badges.

Lastly, BUNCEE encourages and supports the four Cs of personalized learning—communication, creativity, community, and collaboration. It reinforces project-based learning by connecting students in classes within a school, schools within a district, schools outside of the local community, and communities around the world. We look forward to the exciting learning that will take place in our schools next year, and thank BUNCEE for their help and fabulous customer service!

Kathryn Cioffi graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C, and got her Master’s Degree in Computers in Education from Fairfield University. Kathy has worked as an applications programmer in the U.S and Europe for some time. She has taught technology for 18 years in all grade levels and has been with the Diocese of Bridgeport for 1 year, she is with the Office of Superintendent as Director of Educational Technology and Innovation. You can contact her through her email:

NCEA 2019 Social Media Influencers Announced!

We are pleased to announce the eight participants of the Send A Teacher to NCEA 2019 Convention & Expo in Chicago Social Media Influencer Contest!

Beginning Monday, September 24, NCEA will follow the progress of the following eight individuals as they make their mark in the social realm of Catholic education. NCEA will provide a topic (provided below) for each week and they will use social media to share, engage and inspire the online community! NCEA hopes you will follow this year’s participants and engage on social media with others to build a buzz around Catholic school education.

As always, NCEA encourages everyone to follow, retweet and interact with our contestants using #CathEdSocial – to spread their messages and spur their engagement via cross promotion of their social strategies!

  • Week 1 (September 24): Why Choose Catholic Education?
  • Week 2: (October 1): Professional Development for Catholic Educators
  • Week 3: (October 8): Early Childhood Education
  • Week 4: (October 15): Catholic Schools: Learn. Serve. Lead. Succeed
  • Week 5: (October 22): STREAM
  • Week 6: (October 29): Exceptional Learning in Catholic Schools
  • Week 7: (November 5): Digital Discipleship
  • Week 8: (November 12): NCEA 2019: Convention and Expo – Prelim. Sessions of Interest
  • Thanksgiving Break: November 19 – 23: No Posts
  • Week 9: (November 26): Leadership in Catholic Schools
  • Week 10: (December 3): Catholic Identity

Megan Sprenger
Teacher at St. Francis Xavier School
Diocese of Jefferson City



What was the best part of NCEA 2017 in St. Louis? The Twitter session where I learned how easy it was to connect to such a large group of educators! Since my first Twitter chat, I’ve learned so much, gotten great ideas I’ve already integrated into my classroom, received great advice, and have become a better educator! I’ve connected with more teachers on Facebook thorough different groups and loved the awesome free online conferences and webinars!

Since I’m the only teacher at my school that teaches Kindergarten-8th grade technology and middle school science and reading, both of these social media platforms enable me to engage with teachers that also teach these subjects and age levels. It’s a way to lesson plan that you can’t do if you don’t have a co-worker that teaches the same thing!

I have become more active on social media the last two years, especially Twitter, and have absolutely loved it! I would love this opportunity to build my #PLN on Twitter and Facebook, connect with fellow Catholic school teachers, and become an even better teacher! This would also be a great opportunity to showcase the awesome Catholic school I attended as a student from Kindergarten-8th grade and now as a teacher, along with showing the world the awesome things my colleagues do! I also played a large role in starting and am continuing my school’s social media presence. It’s a great way to engage our community, not only our school families but also our parishioners, through Facebook and Twitter

Bobbie French
Principal at Saint Anna Catholic School
Diocese of Worcester





St. Anna Family Friday Mail Blog Site

Reflections from the Principal’s Office


It’s important for all schools to tell their story but we want to get word out about how amazing our Catholic schools are and all they have to offer families.  We pride ourselves in sharing what is happening at our school and keeping families and the community connected.

This year will we also be implementing a Social Media Ambassador program to train middle school students to help tell our story through the student’s eyes.

Emily Thompson
5th grade teacher at St. Pius V School
Diocese of Providence




Social media is a present day gift we have as Catholic educators to share ideas, inspire others, and evangelize! By using various social media platforms, we have the ability to share the mission of the Church and Catholic schools not only within our Catholic school communities, but with our global community as well. On a practical level, social media use is also a convenient and fun way to keep parents and families informed about what is happening in the classroom on a daily basis. I want to network with other Catholic school teachers and share ideas. As a result, I hope to grow both in my teaching and in my faith!

I also believe I have a unique perspective to offer, as the first 4.5 years of my teaching experience was in public schools. During that time, I longed to be able to share my Catholic faith with my students, but was not able to do so. I knew I would send my children to our parish school, run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, when they were school age, and it was always a secret dream of mine to teach in a school just like the one I planned to send my children to. As God’s Providence would have it, a position opened up mid-year at that exact school, and I finished out my fifth year of teaching as a fifth grade teacher at St. Pius V School! I feel so incredibly blessed to be teaching in the exact school I have planned to send my children to for years, especially with the perspective of previously teaching in a public school. I am keenly aware of the incredible impact Catholic schools can have on children, and it is an experience I wish I had growing up. I feel it is my duty to share the joys and fruits of Catholic education, and social media is the perfect way to do exactly that! Social media has many practical purposes, but the ability to share what is truly unique about Catholic schools on modern, accessible platforms is by far the most important.

Doreen Engel
Adjunct Faculty Member and Professional Development Consultant at the The Andrew M. Greeley Center for Catholic Education
Diocese of Providence


I am eager to:

  1. Get more Baby-Boomers tweeting. They can learn a lot, and share their wisdom with young teachers who enjoy this platform.
  2. Share and learn with my colleagues nationwide who are passionate about bringing Inclusion to Catholic Schools.
  3. Reach out to families, particularly those that have a child with a disability, about the wonderful gift that is Catholic Education.
  4. Share my Catholic faith in a gentle and public way.
  5. Continue to be a lifelong learner! Tech is here to stay, and I want to keep current no matter my age.

Amy Pietrowski
Language Arts teacher at the School of the Incarnation
Archdiocese of Baltimore




Techie Teacher Pie Blog Site

I had been teaching for many years before God called me to Catholic education. We were moving to the metro DC area, and I was searching for a job in Educational Technology. This is my passion, and after stumbling onto the School Spring website, I found St. Mary of the Mills in Laurel, MD. As I sat in “New Teacher Orientation” for the Archdiocese of Washington that summer, my first thought was, “This is not my mother’s Catholic School.”

And it wasn’t.  As I quickly learned, the Catholic Education community was much like the public schools I had come from: Full of seasoned educators trying to create the best possible educational experience for all children. The bonus? It was faith-based! The mission of Catholic Schools is a quiet one, but should be shared!  For that reason, I began immediately sharing my experiences on Twitter. As a technology leader in my school, I tweeted what we were doing, but also encouraged the principal, the pastor, and many teachers to exhibit their classrooms and learn from others via this platform.

This year, after heading back to the Language Arts classroom, I added an Instagram account to share the amazing things my students were doing. It is important to reach folks on the platform that they are comfortable with and to celebrate our everyday accomplishments. I wanted both professionals and parents to see and appreciate how wonderful Catholic education is. I now work in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, but I share to both the Archdiocese of Washington and AOB hashtags because of the many connections I have made in both areas.

My voice could and should be bigger! This is why I would love to continue my mission of giving Catholic education a voice with the NCEA Social Media Influencer contest. I’m ready to “break out” of the DC/Baltimore area and promote our great Catholic schools across the nation!

Keven Rinaman
Director of Technology at Calvert Catholic Schools
Diocese of Toledo



Teacher’s Tech Toolbox Blog Site

Magic Potion EDU Podcast

Over the past ten years in education, I have found myself growing passionate about educational technology, especially in the Catholic school setting.  One evening nine years ago, I decided to create an account on the new social media website, Twitter.  Little did I know the great impact this would have on my career.

This simple step opened me to a connected world of like-minded educators all around the globe, searching for a means to share and collaborate with others.  I have grown with my PLN and found how relationships with others on Twitter have sparked ideas and collaborative projects from schools miles away.  Each year I look forward to launching my “Advent in Action” project, challenging students at all grade levels, across many Catholic schools to demonstrate what makes our setting special, our faith.  I also look forward to bringing back the “Living Lent With Love” Challenge, which asks students to complete local community service and in turn challenge another school to do the same somewhere else.  Activities like these strengthen our identity as Catholic schools while helping to generate a buzz locally in communities.

Social media is not an inherent negative, it is all about how you use it.  I would love the opportunity to demonstrate the positive culture that can be created.

Denise Brickler
Middle school Math and Science teacher at Christ the King Catholic School
Archdiocese of St. Louis






Mrs. Brickler’s #BrickerBlog

I am returning to the classroom as a Catholic school middle school math and science teacher, something I have not taught before, to a Catholic school that I have not taught at before. In my mind, this school year is a new journey, a new adventure, and the ultimate chance for me to learn and grow as a Catholic school teacher.  It would be my honor and privilege to showcase my vulnerability in teaching new subjects at a new school using social media.  Previously, I taught in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Louis for 16 years.  Last school year, I served as Principal of a K-8 Catholic school for the first half of the school year, and I substitute taught and served in youth ministry for the second half of the year.  Returning to have my own classroom after some administrative experience and subbing experience will be a learning adventure for all!

In my new school, there is no social media presence established or maintained by the Catholic parish or by the Catholic school associated with the parish. This is my ultimate chance to show the Catholic school community at my new school, including my new pastor and my new principal, that social media is an important collaborative tool for teachers to develop relationships, share best practices and ideas for teaching, and promote the charisms and Catholicity of the Catholic school.  I am so excited to be coming to this new school to help them ease into the marketing aspects of using social media to tell their story.  There is no school hashtag; there will be one when I am finished, which directly relates to the Catholic charisms of the school.  There is no school Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter pages; there will be when I help them set them up and teach them how to maintain them.  This social media adventure and my involvement in starting this would be a FASCINATING aspect of my documentation for the Social Media Influencer Contest and can help many Catholic schools who may be trying to do the same thing.

My love of and dedication to Catholic education is a direct result of my zealous and immense love for Christ and His Church. I am a tenacious follower of #CatholicTwitter, and I feel that if more Catholic school teachers were united to the mission of Catholic education, which is to form intentional and missionary disciples of Christ. I _love_ Jesus, and I _love_ teaching in a Catholic school.  My goal is to intentionally lead other Catholic school teachers to love their teaching vocation too.

John Meehan
Instructional Coach at Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School
Diocese of Arlington



Education Gamechangers Blog Site

Dream Rush

In 2005, I graduated with an undergraduate degree in English from The Catholic University of America and began a career in public relations. While working towards my Master’s Degree in English at CUA, I started my career as a social media strategist and event marketing professional for the school, and I went on to spend five years building and maintaining infrastructures to help both the public affairs office and the alumni relations program of my alma mater take advantage of early social media channels through LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Google’s Picasa, and Facebook.

In 2010 I made the jump to classroom teacher by gaining admission to The New Teacher Project, where I began work as a high school English teacher in the public school system of Prince George’s County, Maryland. I saw firsthand just how powerful the very same marketing techniques that I had once learned while promoting engagement and media attention for events at Catholic could be when applied to the classroom, and I immediately made social media integration and 21st century media literacy a cornerstone of my daily lesson planning and assessment design activities.

After two years with PGCPS, I returned to my Catholic roots and joined the faculty of Bishop O’Connell High School, where I now serve in a hybrid role — working both as a classroom English teacher and as a school-wide Instructional Coach, in charge of research, training, and innovation efforts in teacher pedagogy and student engagement strategies. Social media continues to play a major role in the work that I do — through taking part in Twitter chats, appearing as a guest on education podcasts, reading teaching blogs, connecting with fellow educators at Edcamps, and presenting at diocesan, state, and national conferences while sharing our successes online — I’m able to bring vibrant new pedagogies into our school’s instructional efforts, and I’m likewise able to share best practices and help our teachers connect with the world outside of our school as we showcase the phenomenal things that are happening every single day at O’Connell High School. Blending my background in social media with my lifetime love of learning has opened amazing doors not only for me, but for Bishop O’Connell High School and our outstanding faculty — and we have had the tremendous honor of presenting sessions at each of the three most recent NCEA conferences in San Diego, St. Louis, and Cincinnati since I assumed this current role as instructional coach. I credit Twitter, specifically, for helping me keep a finger on the pulse of best practices in education around the country, and I am eager to help Catholic educators the world over see the transformative power of innovative social media platforms when committing ourselves to lifelong learning, embracing the opportunities for dialogue that these incredible technologies now afford us, and sharing the good news of the unparalleled work that we do in our schools.

Simply stated, Twitter is a game-changer. And I can’t wait to help fellow Catholic educators change the game!

Kevin Peloquin
Academic Dean at St. Pius V School
Diocese of Providence


My principal suggested that I start using a professional twitter to promote the many great things happening in our school community. Little did I know, my principal would soon be critiquing ALL of my tweets (in a good-natured, fun-loving way of course!). Did I use enough hashtags? Did I use the right hashtags? Did I tag anyone? I can’t wait to participate in this competition to show my principal I’m really a great “tweeter!”



We live in uncharted times. With hate emboldened and on the rise in our everyday lives, what can we do to turn the tide on hate, bigotry, and bias? We can try to understand each other better. On October 1, 2018, we’ll come together in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, houses of worship, and communities to hold conversations of understanding, personal interactions that help us understand each other’s different life experiences and build bridges to deeper, more human connections. Join us in fighting hate through understanding.

On October 1, 2018, we’ll come together in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, houses of worship, and communities to start conversations of understanding, personal interactions that help us understand each other’s different life experiences and build bridges to deeper, more human connections. Join us in fighting hate through understanding.

Check out the archived webinar, One Day Against Hate: Facilitating Conversations of Understanding in Your Catholic Community! This webinar will discuss how your school or parish can join in this national movement, providing practical tools and resources to lead Oneday conversations in your local community.

Family boasts 22 graduates of Utah Catholic schools

The following article is a re-post of Family boasts 22 graduates of Utah Catholic schools by Linda Petersen, Intermountain Catholic.

Roger and Mary Gourde Rakowski’s seven children attended Utah Catholic schools; shown at the 1998 Judge Memorial Catholic High School commencement are Alicia, John, Andrew (holding Julia), Clare and their aunt, Sr. Mary Lynn Rakowski.

Many high school seniors often feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. While that may not be the case for Juan Diego Catholic High School senior Nathan Rakowski, he definitely has some weight behind him: close to 47 years of family tradition.

That’s because he is the 22nd member of his family to attend either Judge Memorial or Juan Diego Catholic High School. Five other members of his generation have graduated or are expected to graduate from Catholic high schools in other states.

The family name is well-known at Juan Diego, which Nathan likes.

“It makes me feel appreciated, that my name has meaning,” he said.

The family legacy began in 1969 when Catherine and Richard Gourde, parents of 11 children, made it a priority to send them all to Judge Memorial Catholic High School. Daughter Mary was the first to graduate in 1971, followed by eight siblings: Alice, Theresa, Regina, Loretta, Lorraine, Thomas, Paul, Jerry and James. (Brothers Rick and Paul attended Judge but did not graduate).

The elder Gourdes had received Catholic educations growing up in California and North Dakota.

I had excellent teachers, mostly nuns, who were loving and concerned and wanted us to know and live our Catholic faith, Catherine said.

The Gourdes came to Utah when Richard was transferred here by the Department of Defense. At that time Catherine Gourde felt that, being surrounded by so many people of the Mormon faith, it was important for her children get an education in their own religion, so she insisted they attend Catholic schools.

Sending 11 children to private Catholic schools may seem daunting today, but Catherine said back then it wasn’t that hard. Fr. (later Msgr.) Robert Pollock, pastor of St. Olaf Parish from 1955 to 1969, made a deal with his parishioners that if they paid 10 percent of their income to the parish they would not have to pay tuition for their children at St. Olaf School, she said.

That worked well until federal regulations prohibited the practice. Still, even then tuition was low because the nuns taught for free and that kept costs down, Catherine said.

She remembers that when her children went on to Judge, tuition was just $115. Several of the children assisted in the school kitchen to help pay for their tuition, as she did when she was a girl. Then, as her husband’s career improved, so did his income and it became easier, she said.

Her children benefitted greatly from their Catholic education, she said.

“They knew their religion and it was easier to raise them,” she said. “We were trying to raise good Christian people, sons and daughters.”

While not all of her children have stayed close to the Catholic teachings they learned in school, Catherine goes to daily Mass and prays they will come back to the faith, she said.

“They’re good kids with good foundations,” she said. “And they had a better secular education.”

Four of the couple’s children continued the Catholic school tradition. Rick Gourde sent his children Anthony and Ginger to Judge, while Theresa Gourde Williams’ children Scott and Sean attended Juan Diego.

Her sister Mary Gourde Rakowski also sent her seven children: Alicia, Andrew, John, Clare, Christopher, Julia and Nathan, to Catholic schools. The oldest two graduated from Judge; John, Clare, Christopher and Julia graduated from Juan Diego. Once Nathan graduates next year, there will be five Juan Diego alumni in the family.

Family members’ memories of their school years are as varied as the individuals themselves.

Tom remembers the football games at Judge. Because Judge did not have its own football field at the time, the team would play on Westminster College’s fields. Tom said he and his buddies would walk down early and play a game of tag football before the main game started. He also remembers freshman initiation, when his older sister Regina, then a senior, took great delight in making him consume sour milk and prune juice.

As with many large families, sometimes teachers confused the siblings. Loretta often was called Theresa, especially by one of the math teachers, Sr. Phyllis Marie.

“I was good at math while Loretta, who was more artistic, was kind of blindsided by it,” Theresa said. “I wonder if that’s why Sr. Phyllis Marie kept calling her Theresa.”

Theresa said she made good friends at Judge, some of whom she is still close to today. She feels the school had excellent teachers, particularly science teachers Fr. Richard McLernan and Fr. Richard Blenner. There also was great school spirit and camaraderie while she was a student, she said.

I told my husband, Mike, when we moved back to Utah that our kids would be going to Catholic schools,” she said. “I wanted to continue to raise them in the faith.

“I liked Judge a lot,” said her sister Mary Gourde Rakowski, who spent a year at the school after Judge and St. Mary of the Wasatch consolidated. “I loved having the chapel inside the school, and the people were very nice.”

She recalled that John Norman, who was ordained a priest in 1979 and is now the pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Parish, was a member of her graduating class. Mary went on to send all of her seven children to Catholic schools.

“In the last 35 years we’ve never had a year when we didn’t have a child in Catholic school,” she said.

Her daughter Alicia Rakowski Florin remembers the unique experience of riding the UTA bus to and from school.

“We were a little community within a community – all these kids in Judge uniforms riding the bus out west,” she said. “We were kids, of course, but we really tried to be mature. … We had a high moral compass for people riding the bus,” she added with a laugh.

She appreciated the opportunity to take classes like yoga and stained glass that might not necessarily have been an option to her in public school, she said.

“I still remember how the teachers took a lot of time and were very passionate and caring,” she said. “They cared about all the students.”

All of Mary’s children were involved in sports during their school years. She insisted on it because she knew for most of them it would be the only opportunity to participate in that way.

“Four years go so dang fast,” she said. “If they want the team experience, they have to do it in high school.”

The sacrifice to put seven children through Catholic school was worth it, Mary said.

The quality of education is superior,” she said. “The quality of teachers is head and shoulders above public school. Half of the teachers I met in public school have their kids in Catholic schools. … I think you see some of the great things about Catholic education later on, not necessarily in the first year or two after graduation. It takes a year or two to blossom.

Mary’s brother Tom, who moved to California, sent his two children, Alexander and Isabella, to Catholic schools there. The youngest child, James, has his three children enrolled in Catholic schools in Arkansas.

Here in Utah, it’s still too early to know whether Nathan, his siblings and his cousins will continue the family tradition with their own children. For now, Nathan is focused on making memories of his own.

Three new faces in South Jersey Catholic Schools

The following article is a re-post of Three new faces in South Jersey Catholic Schools by .

Photo by James A. McBride
New principals this year are Deacon Joe Rafferty at Saint Rose of Lima School, Haddon Heights; Patti Paulsen at Holy Angels, Woodbury; and Ray Bonnette at Good Shepherd, Collingswood.

South Jersey Catholic Schools welcomes three new principals for the 2018-19 school year. Each brings an impressive resume and a strong desire to serve in a Catholic school community.

Patti Paulsen learned about the open principal position at Holy Angels Catholic School (Woodbury) from a neighbor who is a parent and loyal fan of the school.

“She came to me and said, ‘Patti, we need you,’” said Paulsen. The opportunity took her by surprise. After 30 years in the classroom and as an administrator in the Glassboro public school system, Paulsen had retired and spent the last two years teaching Basic Skills at Saint Mary’s in East Vineland through Catapult Learning.

I feel like it was a calling,” she said of the Holy Angels opportunity. “Everything just fell into place. I love it here.” Paulsen said she is most looking forward to working with kids and teachers, “bringing faith into education.

Good Shepherd’s new principal, Ray Bonnette, taught for nine years at Holy Cross High School in Delran (Diocese of Trenton) after his graduation from LaSalle University. From there he taught math at Pennsauken High School and Cinnaminson Middle School. Opportunities in professional development and leadership led him to pursue a Master’s of Education in School Leadership, which he recently completed at Wilmington University. The father of two early elementary school aged children, Bonnette is no stranger to younger students as well.“I’m looking forward to being a catalyst for Good Shepherd staff, empowering them to do their best for our students … in a 21st century learning environment,” he said.

Educated by Dominicans as a child, Deacon Joe Rafferty has come full circle in his new role as principal at Saint Rose of Lima (Haddon Heights), which was founded in the Dominican tradition. Early in his career, Deacon Rafferty spent 12 years teaching social studies and history at Gloucester Catholic High School. The balance of his career has been spent teaching and serving as an administrator in Catholic and public schools. A former superintendent, Deacon Rafferty said, “It was always my goal, my dream, to get back into Catholic education.”Ordained six years ago, Deacon Rafferty is living his dream in his new role. “We are put here to empower others in the faith,” he said. “Saint Rose of Lima is a great place to be able to do that”