As I visit schools and classrooms, I am always struck by the obvious impact the leadership has upon the Catholic school. A plethora of studies have indicated that positive leadership is the reason why schools succeed or fail. I have seen situations where demographics and finances work against a school, and yet the institution thrives due to an effective leader. In a school setting, leadership is embodied by the principal.
The year 2012 is upon us, and this is a good time to reflect on the upcoming year and think about how to make 2012 a success. As I consider 2012, I remain filled with hope and optimism for the future of our schools. As Superintendent, I would like to convey my New Year Resolutions in regards to our Catholic schools. These are:
I had the opportunity to attend the Christmas program of one of my children last night at our Catholic school. When viewing such programs, I am always filled with gratitude that we are able to place Christ at the center of this joyous season of Advent. Through the years, our public school counterparts have been forced to make such programs secular celebrations of winter. However, given the strength of our Catholic identity, we are able to make our programs true celebrations of the birth of Jesus Christ, and his message of salvation to the modern world.
Catholic schools have a strong and well-deserved reputation for providing strong religious and academic programs. Yet pastors and principals continually cite finances as the most significant challenge facing Catholic schools today. Indeed, over 4,500 Catholic schools have closed or consolidated nationally since 1965. In almost every case, a lack of money was cited as the most significant reason for the closure of the school.
In my last blog, I discussed the importance of Catholic identity in our schools. For this entry, I’d like to take up Academic Excellence, the second area being addressed by our vision for schools.
Now that the Initial Assessment Report has been released, I thought it might be valuable to reflect a bit upon the six “Domain Areas” discussed in the report. If you have read the report (or its much shorter Executive Summary) you know that the report addresses the six areas of Catholic identity/faith formation, academic excellence, finances, governance, leadership, and marketing/enrollment. Our objective, through our planning process, is to formulate a vision that provides a clear and strategic roadmap for our schools in each of these areas.
To coincide with the release of our Initial Assessment Report for the vision for Catholic schools, our office has initiated an exciting effort to raise awareness of the value of a Catholic school education. Starting earlier this week, we launched a Tuition Giveaway through our Facebook identity. Over the next several weeks, we will be inviting families to “Like” our Facebook page for Catholic schools and be entered to win a tuition scholarship for the 2012-2013 school year.
I am very pleased to announce that we have posted the Initial Assessment Report for Catholic schools to our website. This report contains the results of the data we collected on the state of Catholic school education during the first nine month of 2011. The report includes descriptions of school performance in several critical areas, as well as vivid depictions of the demographics of the Archdiocese.
After months of hard work, we will finally reveal the results of our initial work on the vision for schools this week. I would like to extend my personal invitation to all those who care about our Catholic schools. Please consider attending one of our Vision Presentations this week. The presentations will take place on the following evenings:
Tuesday, October 4: Chaminade Julienne High School, 6:00-7:30 PM
Thursday, October 6: Roger Bacon High School, 6:00-7:30 PM
Tuesday, October 11: Lehman High School, 6:00-7:30 PM
It’s been a good week for our Catholic schools! Earlier this week, we learned that Chaminade-Julienne and Carroll High Schools were named recipients of the 2011 Governors’ Thomas Edison Award for Excellence in STEMM education. This prestigious award recognizes schools who received a perfect score in a state evaluation of their Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine (i.e. “STEMM”) programs. As two of only five schools given the award this year, CJ and Carroll are truly setting the standard for outstanding STEMM education in our state.