BRAINTREE, MA (February 20, 2019): Five aspiring Catholic school leaders in the Archdiocese of Boston are currently enrolled in the inaugural year of Merrimack College’s Catholic School Leadership Graduate Certificate Program. The Catholic Schools Office, through the generosity of the Catholic Schools Foundation, is providing a scholarship to the five teachers to attend the program.
Merrimack’s twelve-credit graduate program is largely conducted online and is taught in three eight-week modules. Students begin by examining the philosophy and history of Catholic education in a module called Fundamentals of a Faith-Based Education. The second module in the program is Technology, Communication, and School Improvement. The program concludes with a module in financial leadership. At the end of the program, students will have learned how to operationalize the Catholic school mission, plan strategically, and maintain a budget to ensure operational vitality.
The participants are completing this course while working full time in Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston. Patrick Moran is the English Language Arts and History Teacher for Grades 5-8 and Director of Special Initiatives at Saint Paul Choir School in Cambridge. “I have enjoyed the certificate program tremendously. The most engaging part has been seeing my school from new, invigorating vantage points,” he said.
Moran said, “Being a part of the Merrimack College classes that focus on operationalizing the mission of the school, examining the media landscape that our students are enmeshed in, and constructing financial models for Catholic schools have provided new and thought-provoking ways of being a part of a school that has become so familiar to me. I would absolutely recommend the program to anyone who may be interested in it.”
If you are interested in exploring leadership development for yourself or your staff at a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Boston, contact Associate Superintendent of Leadership and Mission Effectiveness Dan Roy at email@example.com.
BRAINTREE, MA (February 2019): After an extensive review process, six parish elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Boston have been selected as Healey Education Foundation Partners. As Healey Education Foundation Partners, these schools will undergo a governance transformation and they will also receive guidance in all areas of operation, including finances, academics, and value proposition. In addition, the six schools will each hire an advancement director and share one school improvement director. The schools will also have the opportunity to collaborate with all schools in the Healey Education Foundation network.
The Archdiocese of Boston development team is raising more than $600,000 for this initiative to assist the six schools in its partnership with the Healey Education Foundation to strengthen its schools. The Healey Education Foundation, the Catholic Schools Office, and Archdiocesan leadership, have completed three of six phases: kickoff, leadership assessment, and school selection. The remaining three phases are comprehensive assessment, readiness period, and engagement.
The principals and pastors of the six schools recently met to discuss the comprehensive assessment phase and to address questions. The six schools in the cohort are Our Lady of the Assumption School in Lynnfield, Sacred Heart School in Roslindale, Saint Catherine of Genoa School in Somerville, Saint Jerome School in Weymouth, Saint Joseph School in Medford, and Saint Mary of the Assumption School in Brookline.
The comprehensive assessment will examine family experience, student achievement, and fiscal results. The Healey Foundation will also provide a market analysis and review current enrollment management practices, development strategies, and board governance that are currently utilized at the schools.
Prior to selection, the Healey Education Foundation visited 25 interested schools in the Archdiocese. During this visit, they conducted one-on-one interviews with pastors and principals to identify leaders who are ready for change and schools with growth opportunities.
The Healey Education Foundation partners with schools in six (arch)dioceses in the United States and 85% of the schools that have partnered with Healey are still open and operating.
Superintendent Kathy Mears said, “Each school that has been selected has its own strengths and challenges that they’re bringing to the table. The Healey Education Foundation will help school leaders to create a plan to strengthen their schools, and then assist the schools in implementing best practices to help them improve.”
“While this might seem like a big change, the Catholic Schools Office’s relationship with these schools has not altered. We are still providing professional development to the leaders and teachers, these schools are still enrolled in our student assessment program, and we are still providing support as needed. We have always acted in an advisory role to parish schools and that has not changed,” she noted.
Dr. Theresa Kirk, principal of St. Mary of the Assumption School in Brookline, is part of the cohort. She said, “I am excited to partner with the Healey Education Foundation as we extend our vision for St. Mary of the Assumption School and raise it to the next level. We are honored to have been selected for this unique opportunity for our students and families.”
Dan Rocha, vice president of operations at the Healey Education Foundation, spoke at length Wednesday about the schools’ new Boards of Specified Jurisdiction, which will be formed in a measured way after extensive interviews with the respective school communities. This model can be the key to long-term success of the schools.
Rocha said, “If the board is focused on strategic direction and financial management, it frees the principal to be a principal, especially since they will have an additional member of their staff who is concentrating on advancement. And it frees the pastor to actually be a pastor. This model supports the priest in real ways.”
He continued, “The pastor is a voting member of the Board of Specified Jurisdiction, and a member of the corporate board, and he is still in charge of Catholic identity and assets of the school. The schools remain parish schools and the Pastor remains the linchpin between parish and school.”
BRAINTREE, MA (February 8, 2019): Educators from Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston gathered this week at the Pastoral Center for two sessions on fostering a Responsive Classroom. The attendees included lead teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and assistant principals from PreK-Grade 6. Mary Goslin, the director of government programs and events at the Catholic Schools Office, arranged the professional development.
Goslin said, “Responsive Classroom aligns with the mission of Catholic schools by creating a culture where everyone is valued and feels like they are connected. Also important are the social emotional skills developed through uniform practices, common language and strong student support. We are thrilled to see schools embracing this program.”
The four-day workshop, which is provided at no cost to the educators, is funded by the Catholic Schools Office and taught by the Center for Responsive Schools. According to the Center for Responsive Schools, Responsive Classroom is “an evidence-based approach to teaching that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness.” Additionally, “Independent research has found that the Responsive Classroom approach is associated with higher academic achievement, improved teacher-student interactions, and higher quality instruction.”
Through instruction, demonstration, small group exercises and more, attendees are learning to incorporate interactive structures and supports that are needed to promote respect, build student relationships, and encourage academic growth. Participants are learning how to respond to behaviors with clear, consistent and logical consequences, to establish a safe learning environment.
Dan Price, associate principal of elementary education at Lowell Catholic in Lowell, attended the session. He said, “The Responsive Classroom training provided us with proven classroom strategies that support students’ emotional, social, and academic development. Both of my teachers in attendance implemented new strategies the following school day, and their students responded joyfully and thoughtfully to these new ways to learn about themselves, others, and academics. I would recommend this training to all teachers and school leaders.”
Principal Maria Giggie of Saint Anthony School in Everett also attended the workshop. She said, “My most important takeaway, thus far, has been how Responsive Classroom connects students’ social/emotional competencies to academic learning. The strategies that have been presented on how to create a positive learning environment and establish effective classroom management skills are essential elements in helping students become active learners.”
Part two of the workshop — days three and four — will take place in March. The workshop, which was fully attended and had a waitlist, is one of many offered by the Catholic Schools Office to further the professional development of Catholic school faculty and staff. If you are interested in learning more about one of the approximately 75 professional development events the CSO is hosting during the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BRAINTREE, MA (January 2019): Nineteen aspiring leaders and four apprentice principals recently gathered to discuss school governance models and to hear from a panel of three experts from Archdiocese of Boston Catholic schools. This session began with the aspiring leaders meeting in small groups that changed every 10 minutes and they discussed school governance models, benchmarks, and diversity of stakeholders.
Associate Superintendent of Leadership and Mission Effectiveness Dan Roy organized the event. He said, “This program is one of nine monthly in-person meetings during the school year that is designed to introduce and train aspiring leaders in topics that are essential in the successful administration of a school. Each meeting is complemented by a virtual meeting held beforehand during which participants prepare via assigned readings and discussions with school administration.”
An attendee observed that teachers are fully immersed in their roles as educators, and it was “interesting to consider the role of board members and administrators in their participation of the end game, [to examine] which people and the roles the play to reach the end goal” of a school’s mission and strategic plan.
Director of Data and Research Annie Smith, who co-authored the Catholic Schools Office Board Guide, offered some advice. She said, “I suggest that your school has a small board with 7-10 members, but also has robust committees. Ask a subject matter expert to work on a committee, and then you can transition that person to the board if they have a passion for the role. For example, you could reach out to someone in the finance world to help set tuition. That person could serve as a consultant, or they could ultimately join the board if they are a good fit and are interested in making a larger commitment of time and talent to the school.”
Three members of Archdiocese of Boston Catholic schools also acted as panelists for the aspiring leaders: Cathy Cameron, Principal, Quincy Catholic Academy; Father John Currie, Pastor, St. Patrick School, Roxbury; and Bill Burke, Headmaster, St. Sebastian’s School, Needham, and Board Chair, Trinity Catholic Academy.
Cathy Cameron spoke about her career history. She worked in Catholic schools for almost two decades and then moved to a public school. Cathy said, “I worked in a public school and I was making triple the salary. The money was wonderful, but I had gone to Catholic schools my entire life, and I had taught in Catholic schools my entire life. I gave up the money after one year and I went back to a Catholic school. I don’t regret it for a second.”
Father Currie answered a question about the role of a pastor in a Catholic school. He said, “If there isn’t a synergy with the principal, a like-mindedness, a shared belief in mission and openness to one another, and a holding of that relationship in deep trust, a school can quickly be derailed. The pastor and principal must be on the same page, working together.”
Bill Burke is in his 29th year of leading St. Sebastian’s. He fielded a question about maintaining Catholic identity. “If you want your parents to love you, you love their children. You remind the parents that the only reason the school exists is because of Jesus Christ, our Lord and savior. Sell the academics and the mission at the same time — our goal is to get their sons to heaven.”