BRAINTREE, MA (August 2018) – The Catholic Schools Office (CSO) at the Archdiocese of Boston held its Leadership Kick-off August 9 at the Pastoral Center. The daylong event included workshops on the metrics of success — and how to reach them — for NWEA Map testing, engaging parents, faith formation and finances.
The morning also featured presentations from three school leaders on sharing best practices on how to “Lead Successfully.” Kate Brandley, regional director of St. John Paul II Catholic Academy in Dorchester; Dr. Chris Flieger, principal at Saint John the Evangelist School in Canton; and Monica Haldiman, principal at Sacred Heart School in Roslindale, presented.
Brandley focused on the way that her three campuses have worked to find success on NWEA Map testing. She singled out Dr. Andrew Miller, director of academics at the CSO, for his assistance as a continuous resource that aided in shaping the academic plans that have improved teacher instruction. Brandley mentioned how the school created a culture around teachers and students that focused on visible growth. They posted thermometers measuring success in the office for all students wo see. Weekly emails were sent to parents encouraging them with quick tips about how to help students be successful during testing. For example, getting enough hours of sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, and hearing positive encouragement were all recommended. Although there has been improvement, Brandley sees this work as a journey rather than a destination. The goal is to maintain the growth that has been established and to continue moving up according to the measures of success that have been put into place.
Flieger was intent on creating a “growth mindset” in his school. While he views testing as valuable, he recommends not focusing on the test. Rather, schools should focus on having the proper structure in place to support students and faculty. When leaders ensure that that there is proper support, it will be reflected by the students’ performance on the testing. For Flieger, differentiation is the key to creating personalized education that ensures success for all students. By implementing student-led conferences, pushing knowledge of standards with teachers, and utilizing Envisions math curriculum, which embeds reading into lessons, Flieger has seen success in student performance. He has pushed for center-based learning, teaching in small groups, and leveling students into reading groups. By focusing on students as individuals and using data to drive instruction, his school has become a model of success
Haldiman has a no-nonsense approach to successful leadership. She has high expectations of herself and her teachers. According to Haldiman, the first step is getting the right people in your school who are committed to providing a quality education. While she requires a lot out of her teachers, she will never ask them to do anything that she does not also require of herself. She joins in lesson planning, breaks down standards, and serves a role in their professional learning communities. By creating an environment in which teachers are constantly taking about data and how to best differentiate for their students, they are able to bring about growth and success.
All three leaders had similarities in the strategies that worked to build success for them. Differentiation, teacher support, and involved leadership were some of the common threads. Overall, these leaders reminded everyone that it may not be easy work, but it is possible for any school leader to achieve success with the right strategies.
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Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Boston educate over 36,000 students in 116 schools. The schools offer a high-quality, rigorous education that is rooted in Catholic faith and values for students age 2.9 through grade 12. www.csoboston.com
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