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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.

In case you missed it…

November Catholic Social Teaching

Episode 080: Catholic Schools Market Research – Jennifer Robbins

Improving Instruction and Increasing Learning

Marketing Catholic Schools Through Leadership: 2017 CLS Keynote Address

Guest Blog: Dr. Kevin Baxter on California Dreamin’

Catholic School Matters Top Five

Additional Resources:

Student to Student: A Catholic School Response for Hurricane Relief 2017 – #StudentToStudent

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.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2017

Gospel Reading: Matthew 22:34-40

“[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’”

Catholic school communities would do well to remind our students that when we place our love for God first, everything else falls into place. It is far easier to love our neighbor when we love God foremost.

In what ways do you lead your students to an awareness of God’s love for them?

The National Catholic Educational Association Stands Ready to Help Battered Catholic Schools in Texas and Louisiana

Long-term help is expected to repair and rebuild Catholic school communities.

The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is reaching out to those Catholic school communities affected by Hurricane Harvey. At this time, connecting with dioceses and schools is difficult. Most communication services are unavailable or unreliable and thousands of residents have been displaced. The devastating rains and flooding effects are expected to continue through most of the week, but the aftermath will be long-lasting and varied.

With a forecast of more heavy rain along the upper Texas coast and into northern and western Louisiana, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) continues to petition for prayers on behalf of those communities already affected and for those who are in the path of Hurricane Harvey.  We pray that God will grant them the strength to endure what has occurred and what lies ahead.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy suggests the best way to help is by donating to a “trusted organization that has the ability to provide aid where it is needed most.” NCEA is in contact with Catholic Charities USA, as a trusted supporter of relief efforts, and encourages members to visit the Catholic Charities USA website for information on ways to help or to make a donation.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Texas Private Schools Association released information on how private schools, including Catholic schools, and the families in these communities can get help as they begin the recovery phase following Hurricane Harvey.

Anyone seeking informational resources should contact the DOE toll free at 1-844-348-4082 or by email at Any schools that need to contact the Harvey Relief resources are also welcome to copy the Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) at on the message.

If you are a Texas private school that has been affected and need help, please send an email to, or call (512) 499-8377.

NCEA will do its best to keep members informed as information becomes available on ways to help Catholic schools affected by the storm. Disaster relief efforts are underway in Texas, but rebuilding efforts will not be known until the storm has passed and damage assessments can accurately be made.

NCEA asks that everyone continues to pray for those who have been impacted by the storm.

Additional Resources:

FEMA Public Assistance and Educational Facilities

NCEA Stands Ready to Help Battered Catholic Schools in Texas

Engage Your Students With BreakoutEDU

The following post was contributed by Ryan Lombardozzi, Social Media Coordinator at NCEA.

What is BreakoutEDU and why should it be implemented in your classroom? According to Breakout EDU, BreakoutEDU is an immersive learning game platform that facilitates teamwork and critical thinking to solve a series of challenging puzzles in order to open a locked box.

During Barb Gilman and Debbie Fucoloro’s session, they had the attendees break out into four groups to solve four different puzzle boxes. Immediately the teachers formed groups and began collaborating and creatively assessing how to solve each lock.

It was a fun and engaging way to break your way out of the breakout box! said teachers Kari Higgins and Diana Whitman.

10 Reasons to play BreakOutEDU:

  1. It’s fun for everyone
  2. It’s adaptive to any subject area
  3. It’s promotes collaboration and team-building
  4. It develops problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  5. It enhances communication skills
  6. It challenges players to persevere
  7. It builds inference skills
  8. Students learn to work under pressure
  9. It’s student centered
  10. It’s inquiry-based learning at it’s best

To purchase your own BreakoutEDU box, please visit or learn how to make your own!

Fundraiser vs. Institution Builder: A Preferred Leadership Profile for Catholic Schools- Part 3

In this three-part series, Bob Regan discusses the most effective traits in a transformational school leader.


In Part I of this blog series discussing the “fundraiser fallacy,” Bob suggested that fundraising, while an important element in the preferred leadership profile for Catholic schools, is insufficient in achieving transformational change and he laid the groundwork for a more holistic and visionary leader which he calls an Institution Builder or “I-B” leader. In Part II, Bob shared two real-life narratives from his search experience with Catholic schools and proposed several important conclusions that may be drawn from those scenarios. In this third and final post, Bob will provide a comprehensive introduction to the Institution Builder as the preferred leadership profile for Catholic schools seeking lasting, transformational change.

A Preferred Profile for Catholic Schools

As stated earlier in this series, I believe the right solution for Catholic schools seeking transformational change is what I have come to call the “I-B” leader or Institution Builder. Fundraising narrowly defined is necessary but not sufficient as a credible profile capable of driving change and sustaining high performance.

Although certainly rare and valued as such for their scarcity, I-B leaders are no more elusive or difficult to find than great fundraisers and can be sourced in multiple venues. But you need to remove any flies from your eyes and search broadly and asymmetrically. Wherever mission is core to an institution’s purposes, there you may find an I-B leader. This includes schools and colleges as well as mission-critical non-profits such as foundations, associations, and charities − and even certain corporate platforms. Every high-performing Catholic school I have ever known is led by an I-B leader. They are alike in many ways, but are also variations of a wholesome theme. It is not skill set or career experience that unites them but qualities of character and leadership. Your vetting needs to focus on validating those qualities.

As you search, remember Peter Drucker’s admonition that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Fit is everything.

Remember also the progenitor effects of “place”: precisely where one has acquired his or her management habits or learned acceptable norms of corporate behavior is just as important as the details of those experiences themselves. Place matters − as the child is truly father to the man. Beware the leader who is coming from a bad place and is already socialized (unknowingly) to the worst practices. Those practices are coming with him (or her).

In some ways, I-B leadership is a distinctly Catholic concept because these gifted visionaries are not just passionate about mission but subservient to mission. It is mission that gives meaning to their leadership. They see leadership of a Catholic school as an honor and a privilege and they use their anointed platforms for bold and worthy purposes. They also view institutions organically and value every facet, feature, function and person, from custodial to instructional, to governance and sponsorship. Joyful and fundamentally relational, I-B leaders walk the corridors of their institutions in vigilant exuberance, empowering others by acknowledging their good work and encouraging high achievement. The sheer act of noticing is enriching and emboldening to staffs, fusing an institutional alliance that is strong and loyal from the inside out and bottom up. Under I-B leadership, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, and through a kind of fusion effect create an immensely powerful sense of community in which every individual is valued as a member of a belief-centered family, Catholic and non-Catholic members alike.

One of the greatest relational assets available to Catholic schools has always been grateful families eager to be engaged. I-B leaders know this instinctively. Without burdening busy adults with unreasonable requests, I-B leaders adopt effective family engagement practices that make it easy for this vast reservoir of goodwill to be leveraged for dynamic purposes. Properly engaged and motivated, families become fluent advocates in their communities, viral and ardent. I-B leaders know that familial goodwill is multi-generational and dependable, and like the solar energy that surrounds us daily, suffusing our lives with untoward warmth and blessings, it is abundant, free, and infinitely renewable. There may be no greater source of institutional vitality than engaged families, and I-B leaders know this and capitalize on it.

I-B leaders also take their responsibilities seriously and internalize what it means to be the chief executive officer of a Catholic school. They focus relentlessly on three things: enrollments, Catholic identity, and the quality of the student experience. Without making excuses or assigning blame, they know that intractable market and demographic forces have unfairly placed many fine Catholic schools at risk, and they use their talents and leadership platform to raise the profile and value proposition of their school and to “create demand” for the unique gifts of a Catholic education. As accountable, generative leaders, they also make it their personal responsibility to secure whatever resources are necessary to support and sustain the mission of their institutions.

As for fundraising itself, I-B leaders are the first to acknowledge its critical importance. But they define fundraising holistically and consistent with the way they approach their work. They know that effective fundraising must include all sources of revenue — most of all, growing and sustaining enrollments. They also know that vision inspires purpose, and for that reason work tirelessly to elevate aspirations and achieve communal support for big ideas and transformative agendas. To the I-B leader, effective fundraising can be defined as follows:

Effective fundraising is the earned outcome of a vision well formed, and bold,
inclusive of community, and constructed on a bedrock of enduring mission.

All elements are essential to the definition. This is the transformative work of the Institution Builder. This is not to suggest that the work is easy or that simply saying it makes it so. The I-B leader still needs to formulate a complex plan for change and execute that plan with discipline and rigor. In this regard, institution building is best regarded as the strategic lens through which the change agenda is conceived. This is how Catholic schools will persist and thrive going forward.

In his disarmingly moving prose poem, “A Servant to Servants,” Robert Frost counsels, “The best way out is always through.” This seemingly simple observation is a succinct reminder of the lessons of failed leadership and governance. There are no easy solutions, no short cuts or quick fixes. The human journey is a pull-through, existential scrum, rewarding rigorous process and honest reflection. As suggested above, boards would be well advised to begin the Head of School search process with a difficult conversation around the current condition of the school, how it compares with its peer institutions, and what kind of leadership will be required to address systemic challenges and take the school to the next level. It is hard work, for sure, but the results will be cathartic and self-renewing. Once hired, the new Head of School will also be well advised to do the equally hard work of vision setting and institution building before presuming to go big with one’s asks.

If done well and thoughtfully, and with graceful regard for the foundational importance of mission, the results will be transformational, lasting, and, perhaps best of all, “earned.”

I hope you found this three-part series helpful and will share your thoughts. Let’s continue to learn from each other how best to serve our Catholic schools.

Bob Regan is the leader of the CS&A Search Group’s Catholic Schools Practice. He can be reached at

Webinar: Edcamps: A Free and Teacher-Driven Professional Development Movement


Join NCEA on Wednesday, January 11 for the Edcamps: A Free and Teacher-Driven Professional Development Movement webinar.

Webinar Description:

Have you ever participated in a professional development event that you felt wasted your time, didn’t address your needs or was a waste of money? If so, it is time for you to consider Edcamp as a PD alternative. These events are free, easy to reproduce and will energize your colleagues and staff. No matter what your role in education, you can benefit from learning more about the Edcamp model.

Webinar Details:

Date: Wednesday January 11, 2017
Time: 4:00pm EST

Click this link for registration and more information.

This webinar is offered free of charge as an NCEA member benefit. All registrants will receive the recorded webinar and presentation files.

7 Tips to Integrate English Language Learners into Mainstream Classrooms

The following guest post was provided by NCEA’s Corporate Partner, UTP High Schools.


We have all been there. You’re teaching your lesson, moving right along, and then you look over to see your English Language Learner (ELL) staring at you with pleading, questioning eyes. You know the student doesn’t understand, but you can’t slow down or lower your lexical level for fear of the other students losing interest in the class. This conundrum has been at the root of many pedagogical discussions over the years. However, there is no perfect solution.

We at UTP High Schools are aware of this challenge. We know that most teachers of mainstream classrooms have had minimal training when it comes to the inclusion of ELLs. Having inclusive classrooms can be stressful and challenging, but there are a few simple techniques that can enhance the comprehension of ELLs without detracting from the classroom experience of other students.

Here are seven tips to help you connect your ELL students to the target content. These ideas are easy to incorporate and will be a welcomed relief to your ELLs.

1. Let them use their eyes

When students are unable to understand the language spoken in the classroom, they use visual clues to determine what is expected of them. They watch the teacher and other students and guess what they should be doing. This is natural and the sign of a good student. To help them with this, try modeling the activity or using pictures whenever possible to explain vocabulary, themes, or content information instead of verbally explaining instructions.

2. Give them a head start

ELLs often need more time to decipher text than students who speak the dominant tongue. If there is any reading to be done, try giving it to the ELL before it is going to be used in class. For example, if you are going to be reading about George Washington in class on Friday, give the text to the ELL on Monday so that he or she can read through it at their own comfortable pace.

3. Allow ELLs to work with peers

ELLs learn a great deal of language from other students. Use small groups or pairs in class to allow the ELL to produce the language in a less threatening environment. Language production is key to acquisition and ELLs are often afraid to speak out in front of the whole class. Allowing them to work in pairs or groups can ease their fears and help them apply what they have learned.

4. Correct improper language use

We don’t want to embarrass the student in front of the class. Therefore, the use of delayed error correction techniques is recommended. It may mean a bit of extra work for the teacher, but the benefits will be noticeable. To implement this, try listening closely to the ELL in pair work, group work, or class discussion and make notes of linguistic errors. Then, make a brief worksheet with the errors listed and ask the student to correct them and hand it in for the next class.

5. Use concept checking questions

ELLs are like all other students in the school except that they have a different first language. If a student has difficulty understanding instructions in English, it does not mean the student is incapable of understanding instructions at all. You can try presenting the directions in a different way, such as modeling. When determining whether the ELL understands what is expected, be sure to use concept checking questions rather than the classic, “Do you understand?” An ELL will almost always respond yes even if he or she does not understand at all.

6. Take advantage of your resources

Not all schools have an ESL teacher as part of their faculty, but if you have one in your school, communication with that teacher will benefit you and your students. ESL teachers will be able to tell you the specific strengths and weaknesses of a student and give you ideas on how to approach any particular needs of a student.

7. Remember to breathe

Over the years, I have worked with many frustrated teachers and their feelings are completely understandable. For many teachers, ELLs appear in their class one day without warning. Teachers are not always prepared for this occurrence and can find the experience quite stressful. However, if you are stressed, your ELLs will be stressed. Just remember, keep it fun and you and your students can learn together.

About UTP High Schools
utpUTP High Schools is a diverse, full-service international education program for high schools. Our mission is to facilitate life-changing international experiences through exceptional programs that connect people to each other, their potential, and the world. As a part of the program, UTP offers an extensive curriculum for ELLs. UTP High Schools is a member of two respected associations, ALTO and CSIET.

About Peter Graves
pete-headshot-pngPeter is the Director of Academic Development at UTP High Schools. He has been in international education for over 10 years, teaching in India and Thailand before receiving his MATESOL from NYU in 2009. Beyond UTP High Schools, Peter’s academic research has been published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing and he currently sits as the Curriculum Specialist on the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training.

NCEA president visits three local schools, praises commitment, spirit

This article is a re-posting of NCEA president visits three local schools, praises commitment, spirit published by Cross Roads the bi-weekly publication of the Diocese of Lexington, KY.

In every classroom he visited, Dr. Tom Burnford, NCEA president and CEO, engaged the students in lively discussion. CR photo: Skip Olson

In every classroom he visited, Dr. Tom Burnford, NCEA president and CEO, engaged the students in lively discussion. CR photo: Skip Olson

National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) president and chief executive officer Thomas W. Burnford visited three parish schools in the diocese August 31, along with interim superintendent of schools George Pressey and assistant superintendent Jeremy Hughes.

They visited St. Leo School, Versailles, St. Mary School, Paris, and Seton Catholic School, Lexington. “It was tremendous to visit each school and witness the commitment of principals and teachers and see the joyful spirit of learning among the students,” Burnford said.

Burnford had served as interim president of the NCEA since December, 2015. He was formally appointed as head August 8, 2016. The purpose of his trip to the diocese, he said, was “seeing schools first-hand.”

His mission, and that of the NCEA, is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is a professional membership organization that assists its members to fulfill their teaching mission of the Church and to lead, learn and proclaim the good news of Catholic school education.

He said that it was “great” to see Versailles pastor Father Daniel Schwendeman “welcoming and greeting each student and parent into the school first thing in the morning.”

He also praised St. Mary School as “so deeply integrated into the life of the community and so clearly proclaiming the love of Jesus.”

Left to right, Diocese of Lexington interim superintendent of schools George Pressey, assistant superintendent Jeremy Hughes, NCEA president and CEO Dr. Tom Burnford, and Seton principal Gene Cahill in front of Seton Catholic School in Lexington during Burnford’s tour of diocesan schools. CR photo: Skip Olson

Left to right, Diocese of Lexington interim superintendent of schools George Pressey, assistant superintendent Jeremy Hughes, NCEA president and CEO Dr. Tom Burnford, and Seton principal Gene Cahill in front of Seton Catholic School in Lexington during Burnford’s tour of diocesan schools. CR photo: Skip Olson

Prior to his post with the NCEA, Burnford served for two decades with the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, as secretary for education, managing the superintendent of Catholic schools, the director of catechesis, and a staff of 22. He oversaw a system of 94 Catholic schools and 139 parish religious education programs, serving over 50,000 students and 30,000 adults.

A native of Sussex, England, and the youngest of seven children, raised in a Catholic family, Burnford migrated to the U.S. for a “gap year” following high school graduation. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and classical languages from Catholic University of American, in Washington, DC, a master of divinity from the

Dominican House of Studies, also in the district, and a doctorate of ministry, again from Catholic University of America.


Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Early Childhood Conference Sets the Stage for Success

The following post was contributed by Pam Bernards, Director of Professional Development at NCEA.

What an awesome day I had with 260+ Early Childhood Educators at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s (AoP) Third Annual Early Childhood Conference held at Holy Family University (HFU)! The experience left me totally energized and excited about the beginning of my 36th year in Catholic education. I am privileged to meet and work with so many exceptional Catholic school educators from across the country and can’t help but get excited when I experience first-hand the “Good News” of Catholic school education.

With Sr. Edward William Quinn, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, as the chief architect of the day, attendees were welcomed by AoP Superintendent for Elementary Schools, Debra Brillante and HFU Dean of the College of Education, Dr. Kevin Zook. The opening keynote speaker, Dr. Joseph White, shared current research on best practice in Early Childhood Education.

Dr. White

He challenged attendees to consider what Dr. Pam Schiller describes as “Windows of Opportunity” when planning instruction for early learners. Schiller notes that our cognitive, affective, and psychomotor abilities are the foundation for all learning and defines the “Windows of Opportunity” as the times when the brain is most receptive to wiring each of these three domains. Click here to read more.

Dr. White concluded by providing intentional, carefully thought out instructional practices which align with the “Windows of Opportunity” research and that teachers can implement when returning to their classroom.

During the remainder of the day, attendees had the opportunity to choose from nine presentations during each of two breakout sessions. Topics included Creative Practices for the Early Childhood Classroom, Blended Learning as Effective Practice in Early Childhood Classes, Technology for Tots, and The Kindness Curriculum to name a few. The presenters modeled instructional practices teachers are encouraged use such as technology integration and hands-on, collaborative learning experiences.

Additionally, eight vendors provided interested teachers with welcomed information about Early Childhood resources and shared how they could be used to serve the educational needs of the early learner.

It was a wonderful day! As I reflected on my experience, there were several things (in addition to the wonderful program) that stood out in my mind. A culture of shared leadership was evident. It began with the AoP staff who were models of servant leadership as they worked together cohesively to ensure a successful event in service to the teachers. It was also manifested through the work of the Early Childhood Committee, chaired by Kathy Zerumsky, who had an active role in providing input in to the program, planning the prayer service, assisting with set-up, and presenting several of the sessions. Finally, the partnership with Holy Family University and relationships with the vendors were also key elements for a successful day!



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.

In case you missed it…

No Time Limit For Proclaiming The Good News About Catholic Education

STREAM in Action: 3D Printing

School Renovations Facilitate STREAM Program Implementation


Earth Day at Holy Family Catholic School

Other news and resources:

Make sure to follow all of NCEA’s conversations!

  • STREAM2.0 using #CathEdSTREAM
  • NCEA Exceptional Learners using #CathEdExcLearners
  • Teacher Appreciation Week using #CathEdTeacher


This post was contributed by Dale McDonald, PBVM, PhD, NCEA Director of Public Policy.

The Universal Service Administrative Company announced that it has extended the application window for the E-Rate program. Because of technical problems encountered by applicants in the filing process, USAC has made some changes and extended the closing date to May 26, 2016.

If schools and dioceses have not begun the process, there is still time to file a Form 470 by April 26 and comply with the 28 day waiting period before filing the Form 471 by May 26.

More information is available on the USAC website


Since almost 4 billion dollars will be available for discounted services, this is an opportunity to acquire or enhance broadband connectivity for classrooms. Every school should apply!

The E-rate site contains a new “File Along with Me” blog that uses a friendly, step-by-step approach to help schools apply for E-rate Program funding.  Check it out here.

For the application process, USAC is utilizing a new E-rate information technology system and this is initial launch of a new may have some problems that will need to be addressed as they arise.

Meanwhile, it is important that applicants take all the important steps possible to prepare for the filing of the FCC Form 471, including posting an FCC Form 470 (as the FCC Form 470 has been available since July) and completing your competitive bidding process. Applicants are also encouraged to log on to EPC, make sure your profile information is accurate, and post your FCC Form 470 which must be available for 28 days before filing Form 471.

The best way to support your successful filing of your E-rate application is to start now with your account and user information. You can set up your account in the EPC Portal, assign user rights and establish or update your profile.