Annunciation Catholic School Selected as a 2015 Top Place to Work

NCEA is the largest, private professional education association in theworld. Its membership includes more than 200,000 educators serving more than 7.6 million students in Catholic education. We are pleased to proclaim the good news shares about those professionals who have answered their call to serve as teachers in Catholic schools.

Annunciation Catholic School, Albuquerque, New Mexico, was recently named one of the 2015 Top Places to Work.

The Top Workplaces are determined based solely on employee feedback. The employee survey is conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLC, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. WorkplaceDynamics conducts regional Top Workplaces programs with 45 major publishing partners across the United States.

Annunciation Catholic School has a staff of 40 full-time educators and support staff including administrators. Their team is dedicated to providing students with a rigorous academic curriculum that meets the needs of the whole child as individual learners.

“This recognition is a testament to our remarkable staff who not only work hard, but also understand how to awaken, recognize and honor the God given abilities of each student.We are committed to the mission of a Catholic Education, by providing a  strong faith-filled atmosphere with numerous opportunities to be people of prayer, service, wisdom and compassion; that’s what makes Annunciation Catholic School such a great place to work.” – Cindy Shields, principal

The Albuquerque Journal published the complete list of Top Workplaces on Sunday May 17, 2015. For more information about the Top Workplaces lists and WorkplaceDynamics, please visit and

About Annunciation Catholic School: Annunciation Catholic School was founded in 1959 and continues to provide primary and middle school level education for students in Jr-K through the eighth grade. Our vision is to provide a Catholic Education that recognizes and respects each student’s uniqueness as a member of the Body of Christ. We awaken, recognize and honor the God given abilities of each student by providing active learning experiences using innovative techniques and cutting edge technology. We challenge students to accept responsibility to continue Jesus’ mission by being people of prayer, service, wisdom and compassion. Our mission is to provide a Christ-like and learner friendly environment to better serve God and community.

Monarch Rescue Schools Program Updates

Today, the annual migration of the Monarch butterflies is in great peril, in large part because of the disappearance of a plant that the monarch needs to breed all along its route: milkweed.  The monarch will lay its eggs only on milkweed; its caterpillars eat only milkweed. It is up to people in America’s farming heartland to help replace the milkweeds and other butterfly-friendly plants that used to grow in farm fields.  With the Monarch Rescue Schools Program, NCEA is joining with many other organizations and citizens to help bring back the migration.

The recipients of the 2014 NCEA Monarch Rescue Schools Program Grant are researching, planning, building and maintaining the very best monarch-friendly butterfly gardens possible.  They will monitor the success or failure of the garden, learning from problems they encounter to plan improvements in subsequent years.  Most important, the learning module will incorporate Catholic social teaching on stewardship of the resources God has provided us.

Click here for more information and updates on the schools’ progress!

Taking Retention Seriously: Have A Point Person for Retention

Companies that create a content and productive work environment keep good employees. This reputation gets the company on the list of the top best companies to work for making recruitment easier. Furthermore this reputation influences the consumer’s choice of product or services because satisfied employees do good work. So contentment impacts all facets of a company or enterprise.

The same holds true for the families that enroll their children in our schools. Because of the family’s satisfaction with the quality of the faith community, education and the other aspects of a Catholic school, they keep their children in the school. Year after year, they re-enroll their child. These same families become the ambassadors for the school and attract other families. In the long run the school’s reputation influences parental/guardian choice.

The reality is that we lose families because of dissatisfaction with one aspect of the school or another. Often parents state the reason is finances, but is it really? John Cooper, enrollment specialist for Institute of School and Parish Development, suggests that we take retention seriously by having a Point Person for retention. This person could possibly get to the root of the departure. This would enable the school to address the issue and prevent others from leaving for the same reason. After all, like any business if our school intends to remain competitive it must be about continual improvement.

Who should be assigned as the Point Person? Perhaps a board member serving on the board’s Marketing Committee. This person would not be involved in the following which may prevent the parent from approaching him or her:

1.      Grading

2.      Discipline

3.      Collection of tuition

The Point Person would be introduced at orientation or when students register the name of this person is given to the parents. The job description of the Point Person would be to answer questions and concerns that the parents/guardians have. This may involve the parent meeting with the administrator or staff or getting responses from them. The main role of the Point Person is to answer questions and to listen in order to alleviate concerns. In some cases this person could arrange for the appropriate parties to come together to resolve the issue, if possible, before withdrawing the student. By no mans should this be interpreted as the board becoming a complaint bureau. Rather this is a way that a neutral person could prevent losing students and also fixing what might prevent other families from registering.

Parents report that they did not “complain” because they were fearful of retaliation on their child. Instead, they just quietly left the school. Designating a Point Person is a way to avoid this and show the consumer we are about continual improvement. You may come up with a different way to set up the Point Person concept that will work for you. Either way, take retention seriously. Give as much time and effort or even more to retention than you put into marketing. Imagine the end results when contentment/satisfaction is the focus.

Taking Retention Seriously: Have A Point Person for Retention originally appeared on the NCEA website.

Weekly Round Up 5/22/2015

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 round up of Catholic education news and resources from the week.

In case you missed it…

LEARN: At the Heart of Catholic Education / Wisdom & Witness 2015

PROCLAIM: Catholic School 2015 Presidential Scholars Announced

News and Resources

Diocesan educators attend, present at NCEA convention (Catholic Globe)

$2.6 million raised for Catholic elementary schools (

Curran Center to Celebrate 10 Years of Dedication to American Catholic Studies (

University of Dayton will host the fourth-annual Catholic Education Summit (

At the Heart of Catholic Education

“Let it be known to all who enter here that Christ is the reason for this school, the unseen but ever present Teacher in its classes the model for its children the inspiration for its staff.”

This wonderful quote can be found in many of our Catholic schools and is truly a mantra we all should abide by. I recently had the privilege to serve on the committee to review the applications from private schools for the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon Schools recognition program through CAPE. I was able to see firsthand the tremendous efforts our Catholic schools are putting forth across the country. I was proud, though not surprised, to read of the excellent programs various schools offered and by the success the students in these schools achieved based on the education they received from the dedicated administrators, faculty and staff working with them.

What most impressed me was the commitment that schools are making to not only have strong academic, fine arts and athletic programs but more importantly developing strong spiritual development programs. As the Church reminds us, parents are the primary teachers of their children but schools have the unique opportunity to partner with parents to engage students along their spiritual journey. This is accomplished by schools offering school wide liturgies, retreats and prayer services to name but a few.

A lot of these opportunities are able to occur because of the commitment made by schools and because of the dedication of religion teachers and campus ministers. Presidents and principals are encouraged to make sure their religion and campus ministry programs are at the center of what goes on at their schools. As the quote above reminds us, our Catholic faith must be at the heart of all we do. Of course, all schools must have exemplary academic, fine arts and athletic programs, but the spiritual development of the students must be how it all starts. Following the example of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. John Neumann, families must know that their children will receive an excellent, faith based education.

As we encourage our religion teachers and campus ministers to build strong programs we must also be willing to offer them the opportunity to meet and collaborate with each other to share their thoughts and ideas.

We are excited to announce that NCEA will offer our Wisdom and Witness Symposium this June.

Wisdom & Witness 2015, “Digital Discipleship” will be held on the campus of the University of Dayton in Dayton, OH from Thursday, June 25 through Saturday, June 27, 2015. The symposium is for middle to high school campus ministers and religion teachers as well as parish youth ministers. We are hoping to make this time together an opportunity to hear from professionals in the field as well as time to share insights from each other. Joining us this year will be:

  • Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski, MHSH, D.Min, Director of the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives/Professor in the Department of Religious, University of Dayton
  • Dr. Cecile Brennan, Associate Professor/Chair, Department of Counseling, John Carroll University
  • Representative from The World Meeting of Families 2015 Philadelphia

To register please click here.

At the Heart of Catholic Education is written by Christopher Cosentino, Interim Director of the Secondary Schools Department at NCEA. It originally appeared on the NCEA website in March 2015.

Congratulations to the Catholic School 2015 Presidential Scholars

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the 51st class of U.S. Presidential Scholars, recognizing 141 high school seniors for their accomplishments in academics or the arts. Established in 1964 by Executive Order of the President, the United States Presidential Scholars Program recognizes and celebrates some of our nation’s most distinguished high school seniors.

NCEA is pleased to share the news that a number of Catholic schools are represented on this list, including:

Atlanta – Myriam B. Shehata, Marist School, Atlanta, GA
Most influential teacher: Eric Heintz, Norcross, GA

Naperville – Joseph A. Popelka, Benet Academy, Lisle, IL
Most influential teacher: Jennifer Gimmell, Lisle, IL

Mandeville – Ryan J. Keller, The Saint Paul’s School, Covington, LA
Most influential teacher: Pamela Cullen, Covington, LA

*Olney – Charles F. Lilley, Dematha Catholic High School for Boys, Hyattsville, MD
Most influential teacher: Reginald Jackson, Wheaton, MD

Vicksburg – Luke B. Eckstein, St. Aloysius High School, Vicksburg, MS
Most influential teacher: Dawn Meeks, Vicksburg, MS

Portland – Uma S. Doshi, Jesuit High School, Portland, OR
Most influential teacher: John Gorman, Beaverton, OR

Puerto Rico
San Juan – Cristobal E. Salamone, Colegio San Ignacio de Loyola, Rio Piedras, PR
Most influential teacher: Marta Almeida, Toa Alta, PR

South Dakota
Sioux Falls – Mira E. Yousef, O’Gorman High School, Sioux Falls, SD
Most influential teacher: Ken Lindemann, Sioux Falls, SD

Weekly Round up – 5/15/15

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 round up of Catholic education news and resources from the week.

In case you missed it…

LEAD: What is Your Board’s Meeting Atmosphere Pulse?

LEARN: Summer PD is Around the Corner

PROCLAIM: Monthly Message from NCEA President (May 2015)

News and Resources

Full service Catholic schools surround students with community support (ACE)

Monthly Message from NCEA’s President – May 2015


A Message from NCEA President Brother Robert Bimonte, FSC

Dear NCEA Members,

It is hard to believe that we are coming to the end of another academic year.  The time has passed quickly, but I am confident that each of you can look back at these past nine months with a great sense of pride in all that you have accomplished.  I hope you also reflect on the year with a deep sense of gratitude for your vocation as Catholic educators.  You have had a profound impact on the lives of students and parents, colleagues and administrators, and I want to express my sincere gratitude to each of you for all you have done to enrich the lives of others.  I hope that you will use the months ahead to refresh and renew yourself personally and professionally.

If you have not yet planned any summer professional development, NCEA offers several opportunities:

Our Blended Learning Symposium will take place in Santa Clara, CA on June 22-24. Blended learning is an instructional model that uses online technology to enrich and improve the learning process.  Teams of teachers will develop lessons blending technology and traditional teaching methods to promote critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity in our students.

Digital discipleship takes the forefront at Wisdom and Witness Symposium, June 25-27 in Dayton, OH. This three-day learning symposium brings together national experts and practitioners to focus on  Catholic identity, vocation awareness, social justice, and more.  This year’s event will highlight best practices using technology to enhance the communication and collaboration skills of religious educators in teaching the Catholic faith.

NCEA is once again pleased to partner with St. Catherine College in sponsoring the Education Law Symposium, July 16-19, in Louisville, KY. This year’s program offers a wide variety of presentations on the law as it applies to Catholic education and ministry. It is important to start the school year informed on legal topics that impact our day to day work.

As a professional membership organization, NCEA is committed to keeping you informed, energized and inspired in your work. We hope that you will consider attending one of these programs.  If you cannot, be assured that more wonderful offerings are planned for the year ahead.

With prayers and gratitude,

Brother Robert

Reminder: Summer PD is Around the Corner!


Keep your professional learning front and center this summer with these great professional learning opportunities.

NCEA New Directions Blended Learning Symposium: June 22-24, 2015
One thing is clear: blended learning is a pedagogically valuable method of instruction that uses online technology to not just supplement, but to enrich and improve the learning process.  This conference will enable teachers and school teams to supplement traditional instructional methods while using our faith as a foundation to promote critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity in our students.

Wisdom & Witness Symposium: Digital Discipleship: June 25-27, 2015
The only national gathering for religion teachers, campus ministers, service directors and Catholic high school administrators; Wisdom and Witness is a three-day learning symposium featuring national experts and practitioners convening on matters such as Catholic identity, vocation awareness, social justice, and more.  This year’s event focuses on the best practices in digital discipleship, enhancing the communication and collaboration skills of our religious educators in teaching the Catholic faith.

Education Law Symposium: July 16-19, 2015
The symposium offers presentations on the law as it applies to Catholic education and ministry.

What is Your Board’s Meeting-Atmosphere Pulse?

This post by Regina Haney, Ed.D., Executive Director Department of Boards and Councils, originally appeared on the NCEA Board and Councils newsfeed.

During a recent NCEA sponsored webinar, Committee-Driven Boards, a participant posed a great questioned. The question was: “What are the best practices to keep a positive atmosphere among board members and committee members?” Just like oil keeps the gears of a machine operating smoothly, so do the actions that contribute to a positive atmosphere in the board room or at committee meetings.

I suggest the following three best practices I experienced first-hand since the webinar:

1.      Begin the meeting with a litany of thank yous. The chair of the Academic Affairs Committee began the last meeting of the year by recalling the achievements of the committee over the months of the academic year, the university as a whole and the individuals round the table all in God’s name. An atmosphere of collective pride and deep appreciation filled the room. Thank yous should be part of every board meeting. Some examples:

·         Thank you for the successful launch of a special needs program.

·         Thank you for the dedicated faculty that made this endeavor possible.

·         Thank you for the visionary leadership of our principal/head of school.

·         Thank you for the work of each board member who provided human and capital resources to make it happen.

·         Thank you God for your many blessings that you bestow on our school/educational enterprise.

2.      Encourage and appreciate each member’s contribution to the discourse/conversation. At another meeting, one member’s dominance of the conversation shut down the dialogue at least temporarily. I was impressed with the chairperson’s handling of the situation. He thanked the member for her input and invited others to add their thoughts. When the member who originally dominated the conversation began to debate other’s input the chair reminded the members that all are here to bring ideas and perspectives to the table.   A deliberate effort to utilize the membership’s diversity creates a mood that says everyone is important.  In fact, other members, not just the chair, can speak up and restore a positive vibe.

3.      Stop and think before you speak. I was impressed with the way one member interjected his opinion into the conversation. He used respectful words, for instance, “Perhaps we should…, I would be glad to do it as you suggest, but had we thought about this option…?” At different times during the meeting he reminded the members that it does not always have to be either or, rather it can be both. His non-confrontational approach lowered the member’s defensiveness and created an openness to disagree in a considerate manner. Some of his comments at times were humorous and others were good natured which helped make the work acceptable by providing a welcome break from concentration. From my perspective, this board member, because of his choice of words and humor, brought the members closer together and made the work fun.

The board and committee’s meeting atmosphere must be positive, supportive, inspiring and respectful if the gathering is to be an opportunity to think creatively, have honest and open dialogue to address difficult issues that move the mission forward.

Take the atmosphere’s pulse at your next meeting.  Is it positive, supportive, inspiring and respectful? Ask members what they think and what suggestions would make the atmosphere better.