Catholic School Matters
February 15, 2022
A little more than halfway through the school year, it’s important to recognize our progress toward our common vision of more students and better schools. We’ve seen the work of our department converge with the work of the Diocesan Advisory Council and the Executive Principals to show significant gains. Here’s a rundown of progress on our strategic priorities:
1. Formation of Principals
a. Principal PLNs are continuing (Operational Vitality & Mission/Catholic Identity)
b. Weekly Zooms are continuing & necessary during the pandemic
c. We have conducted two all-day principal meetings focusing on academic excellence and operational vitality, respectively. The next one on March 10th will include pastors & Bishop Fisher and will focus on Catholic Identity
2. Effective School Governance
a. We have formed an Ad Hoc Committee on Governance
b. We have gathered bylaws and collected the email addresses of the board chairs
c. We have sent out a survey to the board chairs to ascertain the needs of the boards. We need to ﬁgure out what the boards need
d. We are continuing to refine and improve the school policies before they are formally promulgated.
3. Clear Communication from the Department of Catholic Schools
a. We have implemented Catholic School Matters as the weekly department communication
b. The full redesign of our website is underway. The pictures and videos being used for the Foundation’s TV show in April can be used for the new website
c. Development of a new logo is also underway
4. Respond to the Road to Renewal
a. We have 3 pilots with schools. I have been meeting with the different schools to see if there can be any collaboration.
b. I have put forward a Consortium proposal to reorganize the regional schools and family schools which proposes a new funding model. Since it is currently being proposed to various Diocesan consultative bodies, it’s not ready for widespread presentation yet.
c. We have been working on a School Health Scorecard to help schools understand their areas of growth.
d. We have been working to adopt a new Diocesan formative assessment and a new system accreditation model.
Other issues have emerged, namely the turnover of teachers and principals and the lack of new candidates. We’re working on solutions. We’re also working on responding to principals’ need for articulation of Catholic Identity as well as training for the gender and identity issues which are emerging in our schools. All of these items are claiming our attention and are in process.
We are preparing to hire a new position later this spring which we’re calling a Director of School Improvement. This is to fill a position that has been unfilled since our Director of Professional Development left. We’re hoping this new position will give more attention to school improvement to build better schools. We’re making progress on our goals and hoping to keep moving forward.
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Dr. Tim Uhl
Nancy & Michelangelo
Principal Nancy Kindred of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament brought a fun day to her school during CSW
Guessing Catholic Identity
Principal Karen Green of St. Joseph's Regional School designed guessing games based on saints. This example of St Brigid includes candy representing farms.
Here is the registration form for principal RSVP for the March 10th principal meeting. Please fill out for you and your pastor.
The January 25th COVID mitigation memo suggests ways for schools to navigate the post-mask world.
2022-2023 School Year ~ Supply Order Form Deadline~ Extended Until Feb. 18th.
It is our pleasure to share with you a scholarship opportunity for an eighth grade student who embodies the charism of the late Tim Russert – a student who has strong writing skills, is considered a leader in the classroom, is attune to the political landscape and who exercises critical thinking skills. The scholarship includes a one year, $2,500 Catholic high school tuition voucher. Here is the nomination form and additional details about the award.
Here is the nomination form for The Natalie Mattimore Lewis “Kindness Counts Character Award” presented to a seventh grade student. The deadline for submission is Friday, February 18th, 2022.
Kari Buchinger on Academics
Now that we are well on our way into the second semester, testing is right around the corner. This spring, we will once again complete the NYS summative assessment in ELA, Math, and Science. This summative assessment will provide a big picture of student mastery of the NYS standards. This includes a lot of information. But, it lacks actionable data that teachers can use to improve their instruction and help students reach a greater level of mastery.
With that in mind, we know we cannot count on the NYS assessment to be our only measure of student mastery along the way. This is precisely why our fantastic teachers focus so much on collecting formative assessments each day in the classroom. These formative assessments allow teachers to provide corrective feedback, modify instruction to acquire increased levels of mastery, and direct further instruction for struggling students. These small-scale snapshots are imperative to effective daily instruction.
So, what lives in between a summative assessment and daily formative assessments? Interim or benchmarks assessments! A colleague recently compared benchmark assessments to a group of bicyclists traveling together. Each bicyclist has their own skill or fitness level, which requires them to travel at their proper pace. Due to different travel rates, it is essential to honor bicyclists' differences and keep track of the whole group. So, the group plans specific stops along the way to make sure all riders are making progress toward the end goal. Think of those planned stops as a benchmark assessment. Teachers have the opportunity to see how students are progressing towards their grade-level goals. But, if students haven't reached their goals yet, teachers still have time to evaluate and plan interventions that will help them move forward and achieve mastery.
The inclusion of a summative assessment, benchmark assessment, and an abundance of formative assessments helps us create a balanced assessment system that will equip teachers with the tools they need to measure student mastery. To help us reach that balanced assessment system, our executive principals' team has worked together to identify, share experience, and evaluate benchmark assessments that may be a good fit for us. The adoption of a common benchmark assessment helps us measure achievement and growth. It helps us unite around professional development that can support teachers' use of data. It also helps us take advantage of greater buying power, and who wouldn't mind saving some money right now? More information about a common benchmark assessment will be on the way. But, if you were in the midst of exploring options for next year, I'd encourage you to push pause for a moment until we can gather and share more information.
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
Chris Riso on Government Services
Mandated Services Update: As you begin to work on your online claims, please see my important message about Mandate 1 emailed to all principals and select Business Managers on 2/8/22. Reprint: If you have not already done so, please consider opening a new 2020-2021 Mandated Services claim via the NYSED Business Portal (http://portal.nysed.gov/); see my note in the 2/1/22 Catholic School Matters for information on how to do this. Even though you may not be ready to enter any information for your claim, having the claim open will allow me to look it over to make sure everything from NYSED loaded properly (BEDS enrollment; test counts) and we have plenty of time to correct any problems.
Mandated Services Data Entry Sessions 3/21 & 3/22: If you are not using a paid preparer please make sure you are completing the Mandated Services forms provided by me to prepare for online submission. We have arranged for two half-day sessions to assist you as you key in your Mandated Services claims (after your paper forms are completed):
Mon., Mar 21 – Notre Dame - Abbott Site, 1125 Abbott Rd., Buffalo 14220, 1:00 - 4:00pm
Tues., Mar 22 – St. Amelia School, 2999 Eggert Rd, Tonawanda 14150, 1:00 - 4:00pm
If you wish to attend one of these sessions please register by sending an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not need the in-person assistance you can always submit the claim on your own. If you want me to look it over prior to submission, make sure you save it online by 3/23/22 for me to view before you click “submit”.
HERO Act Update: The NYS Department of Labor has updated its model NY Hero Act exposure prevention plan to reflect the lifting of the mask mandate. Relevant language from Page 3: “Effective February 10, 2022: Employees will wear appropriate face coverings in accordance with guidance from State Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as applicable. Consistent with the guidance from the State Department of Health, if indoor areas do not have a mask or vaccine requirement as a condition of entry, appropriate face coverings are recommended, but not required. It is also recommended that face coverings be worn by unvaccinated individuals, including those with medical exemptions, in accordance with federal CDC guidance. Further, the State’s masking requirements continue to be in effect for pre-K to grade 12 schools, public transit, homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, correctional facilities, nursing homes, health care, child care, group homes, and other sensitive settings in accordance with CDC guidelines. New York State and the State Department of Health continue to strongly recommend face coverings in all public indoor settings as an added layer of protection, even when not required.” On January 15, the NYS Department of Health extended its designation of Covid-19 as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious public health risk until February 15, which means the NY Hero Act implementation remains in place until that time, and possibly beyond if it is extended again.
EANS I Reimbursement: A few schools have indicated that they finally received their EANS (I) reimbursement for Part E expenses. If your school has received your EANS I check, would you please let me know when you received your check?
3/18/22 Last Day to Submit Erie 1 BOCES Textbook Orders
3/23/22 Deadline to Save Mandated Services Claim online for C. Riso Review
3/31/22 NYSED Nonpublic Safety Equipment (NPSE) Application Due
3/31/22 NYSED Elementary School AIS Purchases/Projects/Payments Completed 4/1/22 Online 2020-21 Mandated Services Claim Due to NYSED
4/1/22 Parent Requests for 2022-23 Transportation Due to Public School Districts
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
Save the Date!
NYS Test Scoring Schedule Sign Up here
NYS Test Scorer Training
- Option 1: March 1 3:00-4:30 pm
- Option 2: March 3 1:00-2:30 pm
- Option 3: March 4 9:00-10:30 am
ELA Scoring Dates
- Schools North of Buffalo April 4 (3,5,7) &April 6 (4,6,8)
- Schools South of Buffalo April 7 (3,5,7) & April 8 (4,6,8)
Math Scoring Dates
- Schools North of Buffalo May 5 (3,5,7) & May 6 (4,6,8)
- Schools South of Buffalo May 9 (3,5,7) & May 10 (4,6,8)
Science Scoring for all Schools: June 10 (4,8)
- Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays.
- Principal meeting with pastors/canonical administrators on Thursday, March 10th
- Primetime televised segment to support Catholic Education on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 from 8:00-9:00 PM on WBBZ-TV
- X-Stream Games, May 15, 2022.
- 175th Anniversary Mass for 8th graders, Sep 20, 2022, 10 am at the Cathedral
- Diocesan Professional Development Day October 7, 2022 at St. Amelia's.
- The Executive Summary. of this year's school data.
- Video recording of All-schools Mass at OLV with Bishop Fisher. Here is the link to Dr. Uhl's talk.
- "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
- Here's a link to the forms on our website.
- New Policy Manual
- New Operations Manual
- Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This week there are no new episodes (but I'm recording a few more!). Previous episodes:
- My old friend Neal Wilkinson, SJ joins me to discuss his vocation and work as well as his struggles with living with Parkinson's
- Roy Petitfils joins the podcast to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on us all.
- Dr. Lauren Casella of LMU joins the podcast to discuss her work with our Principal PLN to strengthen Catholic identity.
- Last week's podcast is a discussion with author Mark Shea about the divisions and tensions within the Catholic Church.
- Last week's podcast is a great conversation with Diocese of Orlando Superintendent Henry Fortier. One of the few African-American Catholic school superintendents, Henry discusses the challenges of the past few year
- I was joined on the podcast by Dr. Ann Garrido, the author/speaker/ professor of homiletics.
- The December 27th episode was a conversation with Jennifer Daniels of the USCCB about government programs and school choice.
- In the December 20th episode, Bridgette Theurer discusses Resilient Leadership
- In the December 13th episode, I'm talking with Jodee Blanco about parents bullying the school.
- Here is the link to the Dec 7th conversation with Faustin Weber, the author of the great blog post "Top Ten Suggestions to Avoid Principal Burnout."
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Articles for Your Reflection
The School Attendance Crisis, and the Faith We Need to Fix It - Partnership Schools
Throughout January, even as the Omicron wave receded in New York, one of its most devastating impacts persisted: high absenteeism in schools. As writer Jessica Winter explored in the New Yorker a few weeks ago, while some of those absences are due to actual infections, positive cases, and close contacts, others are due to a different phenomenon: "Low attendance can create a feedback loop...
Leaders: This is exactly what 'more communication' should look like
Clearly, it isn't enough to just repeat "more communication" like a mantra because then you have organizations trying out practices that employees don't want or even passionately hate (looking at you, Zoom happy hours).
New Mexico is pushing to be a 'model' for how race is taught in U.S. schools - MindShift
The New Mexico Public Education Department's proposed standards are aimed at making civics, history, and geography more inclusive of the state's population so that students feel at home in the curriculum and prepared for a diverse society, according to public statements.
A Look Back: Here's A Reflection Exercise I Did With My Student Teacher
I thought that new - and veteran - readers might find it interesting if I began sharing my best posts from over the years. You can see the entire collection here. This post originally appeared in 2017: Being a student teacher and supervising a student teacher offers unique challenges.
My Last 5 Books
- The Best of Me (2020) by David Sedaris
A Disarming Spirit: The Life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen (2018) by Frank Fromherz
Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence & the Problem of Control (2019) by Stuart Russell
In the Midst of our Storms (2014) by Roc O'Connor, SJ
Big Russ & Me: Father & Son Lessons of Life (2014) by Tim Russert
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
A couple of years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation.