#PopeInUSA Visit 2015 – Live Coverage from USCCB

Next week marks the historic visit of Pope Francis to the United States. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced they will be live-streaming over six days of free video coverage of papal events.

Some events include: the canonization Mass of Blessed Junípero Serra, the Holy Father’s visit to Catholic Charities in Washington, Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, Mass at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, blessing and remarks on Independence Mall, the Festival of Families, the Holy Father’s visit to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary and the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, as well as the closing Mass of the World Meeting of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia.

All events will be live streamed in English with audio commentary from the USCCB website here:

All events will also be available for video on demand here (events will be available shortly after their conclusion):

Mobile (smartphone or tablet):
You can watch all live-streaming and video on demand as well as up to the minute news and photos from the USA Catholic Church app available for iOS and Android. You can download the app for free by visiting www.USACatholic.Church on your smartphone or tablet.



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…

In Their Own Words: Reflections on Identity, Transitions and what it Means to be “First-Generation”

Monthly Message from NCEA President – September 2015

15 Ways to Keep Your Teaching Stamina for 2015

The Superintendent’s Academy

Other news and resources:

Catholic schools begin to Walk with Francis

In Their Own Words: Reflections on Identity, Transitions and what it Means to be “First-Generation”

The following blog post is part of our Lamps Under the Bushel Basket series focusing on Supporting First-Generation Students in Catholic Secondary Schools by Jesse Rodriguez, Gina Liberotti and Evelyn Jimenez, Loyola High School.


The students on the campus of Loyola Marymount University meeting with students from “FIRST TO GO.

“I feel honored and scared to be the only college applicant in my family…more importantly, I feel alone in this experience.” – First-Generation Student / Incoming High School Freshman and Member of First-Generation Summer Cohort

For us in education, the summer months function as that space between the end of one school year and the beginning of a new one. It was as a graduate student studying theology where I first heard the term(s) “liminal entities.” I was reminded of this term at the start of our inaugural summer program for first-generation students entering Loyola High School as freshmen. Liminal entities are “neither here nor there; they are, by their very nature, betwixt and between the positions assigned” (Gennep; Grimes). The 15 students that accepted the invitation to participate in our program were in “between the positions assigned.” They were neither eighth graders (they had already experienced their own ritual transition of graduating) and, yet, they were not “formally” freshmen (they had yet to participate in the “freshmen welcome” with their new classmates and high school community). They existed in that transitional space and time that is summer as students in transition. There is, however, something quite powerful about transitions; it is that place of loss and creation where identity is explored and labels deconstructed. It is a time of newness and deeper exploration.

In fall 2014, two of my colleagues and I began the work of learning more about the “first-generation” student experiences of our own students. While much of what they said reinforced the literature on first-generation college students (students connected with peers and peer networks that provided resources and other non-tangible forms of support such as academic norms / identities), we knew that many of these same students had challenges “navigating” a college-prep high school. Their own transitions had been quite difficult. Although these students caught on and merged successfully into the school’s academic program, they admitted that they were at a disadvantage. What emerged as a few professional conversations, developed into a fully funded summer program for students entering Loyola High School who fit our classification of a “first-generation student” (we chose to define a “first-generation student” as “a student whose parent(s) / legal guardian(s) have not completed a BA degree, four year degree at a four year college or university in the United States). Our 15 students formed, what would be called, “College Connections I”.

The course, taught this summer over five weeks, was designed to give first-generation students entering Loyola High School with the “seamless support system” necessary to navigate successfully through Loyola High School and into higher education. Students participating in this course explored the following: 1) understanding the relationship between a productive transition into high school and sustained academic success; 2) the ability to locate resources within the school that can aid transition into college; 3) the need to build relationships with faculty and professional staff who can help facilitate students’ academic, professional, and personal development; 4) the formation of connections with other first-generation students on campus; and 5) the ability to use resources obtained through academic guidance and counseling. Ultimately, it was our hope that students might build stores of social capital by drawing on academic resources, educational resource opportunities and mentoring relationships.

Using digital storytelling to unpack the intersectionality of identities and their meanings (e.g., first-generation, African-American, Latino or other, Loyola “Cub,” and high school student in a Catholic context), students, and instructor, unpacked what it meant to be “first-generation.” It’s difficult not to reflect on my own identity as first-generation—a term (and identity) that was unfamiliar to me when I stumbled into college and, later, graduate school. Even then, as an adult pursuing a graduate degree, I lived the very definition that I shared with my students:

brainstormimposter syndrome – feelings of inadequacy, despite evidence to the contrary. High- achieving individuals may fear being “found out” as a fraud, believing that everyone else around them possesses knowledge, skills, and competencies they do not. These individuals often feel they do not deserve the success they have achieved and downplay their accomplishments as luck or timing.


My story resonated with the class and caused me to enter into my own period of reflection. We started our week by unpacking our identity…what does it mean to be first-generation? And what emerged were poems, essays and some art. Below are one student’s words:

“I am first-generation
We are one of a kind all across the nation
Not just statistics in a system
Breaking all kinds of barriers is my mission
Overcoming all sorts of challenges
It’s a big burden, but still I manage
All types of people try to discourage
I don’t worry because my loved ones give me courage
Keep striving to reach my dream
I Know I will with all the knowledge Loyola feeds
That’s why in the end I know I will succeed”

-Xavier, Incoming Freshman Class of 2018


What impressed me most about the students were their interviews with parents and /or guardians on what education meant to them and their families. For many, this was the first time they really engaged in a serious conversation about college. Incorporating their family story was critical to deconstructing the meaning what it meant to be first (in the family) generation:

My name is Brandon and I am a member of the college connections class and the first generation association club. I would like to take a moment to share my experience in this class with all of you. It has been a great honor for me to be a part of this group. Before I entered this class, I had no idea what it meant to be a first generation college student. All I knew was that I was the only one in my family to receive an education that will lead me to college. As I progressed in the class, I began to gain a greater understanding of what it meant. I reflected a lot on my situation of not knowing anybody close to me that has gone to college and I almost felt alone in this experience. After our university field trips and many fun activities in class, I realized that I was not alone. Not only will I have help, but I will also have all my fellow classmates going through the same experience with me. I felt as if we grew closer as a family. I have never felt so comfortable to be in something new. I will always push myself to work hard and never give up. I will ask for all the help I can get so I could make the best out of my journey to college. I will do awesome things because I am first.

Transitions. Our life is full of transitions—movements from one point to another. It is in these movements that we explore our sense of place and the position and identity that we will occupy. For the 15 first-generation students, they have entered into a Catholic community that will embrace them and walk alongside them as they take the first step into becoming First-Generation Loyola Cubs.

Over the course of this coming academic year, my colleagues and I will share our “first-generation stories.” The stories will be written from different perspectives—leadership (administration), practitioners (teachers and counselors) and students (those part of the first cohort and those already students at Loyola High School). It is our hope to capture the essence of our work through this living testimony of work and reflection.

Monthly Message from NCEA President – September 2015



Another faith-filled and academically excellent school year is upon us!

NCEA has kicked off the school year with our new organizational structure to carry out our mission to Lead, Learn and Proclaim. New staff members have joined the association, bringing fresh ideas and great enthusiasm. Having recently upgraded our technology infrastructure, we have now begun in earnest to improve our website and outreach to members. We are working on a new logo and an expanded marketing program. And of course, work has already begun to select the very best session offerings for the 2016 NCEA Convention in San Diego.

We are looking forward to the Holy Father’s visit to the United States this month. I have no doubt that it will be a remarkable experience for us as Catholic school educators. It will certainly be marked by several “firsts” – the first canonization to take place in America and the first time a pope has addressed a joint session of Congress. We will be sharing special resources around the visit throughout the month. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NCEATalk and Facebook NCEAorg for updates.

NCEA has also been responsive to Pope Francis’s call to the church and to the world to be good stewards of God’s creation. We encourage all schools to participate in our community project, “Catholic Schools: Stewards of our Common Home” by pledging and sharing your stories showcasing how they are acting as good stewards of the environment through service, conservation and prayer. NCEA will be accepting submissions for this community project through October 23, 2015. Please fill out this form to be included.

Throughout the school year, NCEA will be providing updates, sharing resources and soliciting our members’ feedback through letters, blog posts and videos on NCEA Talk. Superintendents, please share this information with your principals; principals please share this information with your teachers. Together, we are achieving great things in Catholic school education.

15 Ways to Keep Your Teaching Stamina for 2015

taw_15_facebook_profilepicThis post was prepared by NCEA’s Educational Resources Manager, Andrea Kopp.

As the school year begins, teachers and students begin the task of establishing routines, getting to know each other and rebuilding the stamina to make it through the school day.  It is a tremendous blessing and great responsibility to ensure the spiritual, social and academic development of a group of young people.  It is easy to be excited and energized at the beginning of a school year, but after the smell of fresh pencils subsides and the crayons start to break, the daily grind can become draining.  Here are some tips to help delay the drain and maintain that beginning-of-the-year enthusiasm.

  1. Make Time for Reflection: Taking some quiet time to think about the things you can do better, as well as giving thanks for the things that went well, can help you de-stress at the end of the day and open yourself up to listening to the Holy Spirit.
  2. Get Out of your Room: If it’s one of those days where the coffee isn’t helping, take an on-campus field trip and teach outdoors or in a different space.  The exercise and the change of scenery may be exactly what you need to feel energized.
  3. Make time for Prayer:  Scheduling prayer time can help you build it into your daily routine.  If you get into a prayer rut, try some new things.  If you don’t really know how to get started, ask your pastor or a colleague in your Religious Education department for some ideas.
  4. Schedule Time Off: This can mean forcing yourself to use those personal days you never get to or just making block of time on the weekend that you honor as non-work time. You deserve some time to take care of yourself.
  5. Professional Development: Learning what is new in your field and getting some new tools in your teaching toolbox can be fun and invigorating.  Look for local offerings as well as NCEA events and resources at ncea.org.
  6. Connect with Colleagues: Take advantage of the treasure of educational experience in your school building.  Most of the time, other educators are happy to help with advice, positive solutions or at least a sympathetic ear.  Choose someone you don’t normally get to connect with, so you can get a fresh perspective.
  7. Use Your Gifts: Don’t be afraid to step up and take leadership of a project or committee. You have valuable input and perspective.  If you take on a project you are good at, or passionate about, it will help your school and not feel like a chore.
  8. Invite Feedback: It doesn’t matter how long you have been teaching, there are always new things to learn.  A fresh observer may offer insights that make you see things in a new way.
  9. Go To Mass: If you work and worship in the same place, sometimes Sunday can feel a lot like Monday. Try a different parish in your local area once in a while.  If you aren’t a parishioner, try going to your school parish for a change of scenery.  Worshipping in a new and different environment can help you get out of auto-pilot and refocus on the Lord.
  10. Grow in Your Faith: No matter your level of religious formation, you can always grow in faith. Look for offerings from your church or diocese for Adult Faith Formation programs or see if others in your school are interested in some discussion or faith sharing activities.
  11. Use Technology: There are so many great teaching tools, apps and websites geared just for educators.  Pick one or two a year to become proficient in.  Finding one that is a good fit for you, can make your life easier and change the way you plan, teach and communicate with parents.
  12. Shadow: Commit to spending one of your planning periods observing another teacher or staff member. You may just learn a new trick or reinforce the things you are doing.  Make sure you give them some advance notice so you get the most of your experience.
  13. Expand your Circle: NCEA is here to help!  Connect with other professionals in the field by on live tweeting with #CatholicEdChat on Saturday mornings at 9:00am EST.
  14. Proclaim the good news of your Classroom: Are you doing something exciting or innovative? Share it with other Catholic schools through NCEA Notes.
  15. Become a Contributor: If you created a great lesson or unit, we would love to see your content and help inspire other educators. Knowing you are contributing to the field can help motivate you to always be your best.  If you have materials to share, please contact the Professional Development Team at akopp@ncea.org.

As NCEA continues toward its new vision, more resources will be available directly to teachers to help you grow professionally and spiritually.  Please keep checking our website, NCEAtalk blog and follow us on social media to stay connected with other Catholic educators.   We at NCEA are continually praying for you and your students.

The Superintendent’s Academy

The Superintendent’s Academy provides innovative, timely and relevant information and practices for  superintendents, associate superintendents, and assistant superintendents in Catholic education.  While the Academy focuses primarily on new or nearly new diocesan leaders, it is also an excellent professional development opportunity for aspiring superintendents and seasoned veterans seeking a refresher. This year’s academy is centered around the superintendency and the four domains of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools.

This year’s academy will take place Saturday, October 17, 2015 to Sunday, October 18, 2015, before the Catholic Leadership Summit.

Click here to view the 2015 Superintendent’s Academy Agenda.

Weekly Round Up 9/4/15


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…

NCEA Prayer Service for a New School Year

NCEA IFG:ACRE Available Online

Catholic Schools: Stewards of our Common Home – Ideas for Catholic Schools

From CAPE News: Students Exceed SAT Benchmark

Other news and resources:

New Catholic HS opened in Metro East

Catholic schools can ‘Walk with Francis’

NCEA IFG:ACRE Available Online


The use of technology in the classroom has changed how we teach and assess today’s students. To support these endeavors, NCEA has worked with Computerized Assessments and Learning (CA&L) to provide an option for students to complete the NCEA IFG: ACRE edition online with an upgrade to the reports. Click here for further information and pricing.

If you have any questions contact Mickie Abatemarco at mabatemarco@ncea.org.

Early Registration Extended for CLS


We hope you can join us at the 2015 NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit that will be held at the Sheraton Atlanta from October 18-21, 2015.

Formerly known as the CACE meeting, the NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit is open to all NCEA members who are arch/diocesan leaders who serve Catholic schools and CHESCS members.  Breakout sessions will focus on diocesan-level topics related to the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools (Mission & Catholic Identity, Academic Excellence, Leadership & Governance and Operational Vitality).  These sessions will be presented in a variety of formats by knowledgeable presenters who were chosen by a review panel made of current superintendents and associate superintendents in consultation with the NCEA staff.  We are pleased to share with you the preliminary program, now available to view online.

Early bird registration has been extended one week!  Register by September 11, 2015 for this year’s meeting to lock in this special rate.  Our meeting is open to all arch/diocesan personnel who serve Catholic schools, including superintendents, associate superintendents and assistant superintendents, as well as CHESCS members.  We encourage you to bring a team from your diocese.

Now is also the time to book your accommodations for the Summit!  The group rate is available until September 16, 2015 or until all rooms are reserved.  Click here to reserve your space today.

Please also mark your calendars for The Superintendent Academy on October 17 and 18.  The Academy provides innovative, timely and relevant information and practices for  superintendents, associate superintendents, and assistant superintendents in Catholic education.  While the Academy focuses primarily on new or nearly new diocesan leaders, it is also an excellent professional development opportunity for aspiring superintendents and seasoned veterans in need of a refresher.  This year’s academy is centered around the superintendency and the four domains of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools.  The sessions offered at the Superintendent’s Academy will be led by superintendents and associate superintendents from around the United States.  Take a moment to register for this professional development opportunity. A preliminary agenda for the Academy is available here.

The NCEA Catholic Leadership Summit provides wonderful opportunities to interact, as well as to learn with and from your colleagues across the country, while participating in professional development, prayer, and networking opportunities.  Please take some time to examine this year’s offerings for both the Superintendent’s Academy and the Catholic Leadership Summit. On behalf of the NCEA team, we hope that you will be able to join us in Atlanta!