Catholic School Matters

February 2, 2020

The Nashville Exchange

Over 20 years ago, I began teaching in a diocesan high school with Jim McIntyre. As our careers have taken us to different places, one thing that we’ve both noticed (Jim as a Diocesan high school president, me as a superintendent) is that there doesn’t seem to be any conferences or professional development specifically designed for Diocesan high school presidents/heads of school. There seems to be robust networks of order schools but nothing for Arch/diocesan schools. Our diocesan presidents, we suggest, could learn from our order schools and become better versions of themselves.

So Jim and I have put together just this type of conference July 15-17th. The “Nashville Exchange” is designed to be an intimate gathering where best practices will be exchanged and relationships will be established. Our objectives are to build a network of Catholic school presidents and highlight best practices established by successful heads of school all within the context of a collaborative that promotes safe and secure communication.

The Nashville Exchange does not have multiple tracks and lots of sitting and listening. Rather we have designed an “unconference” that is based around listening to a fantastic keynote and then attending (and participating) in five guided discussions led by established leaders. The Nashville Exchange will begin at 5 pm on Wednesday, July 15 and will conclude by lunch on Friday, July 17th.

The keynote speaker will be Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, CM, the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and the former president of DePaul University from 2004-17. He will discuss leading for mission and share his experiences of leading Catholic institutions. The guided discussions will be led by:

· Tom Mengler, president of St. Mary’s University (TX), who will discuss successful fundraising.

· Br. Tom Long, FMS, a long-time Marist head of school, will lead the discussion on strategic planning.

· Jack Peterson, current president of Managing for Mission and former president of Bellarmine Prep in Tacoma, will discuss spiritual leadership

· Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach, the Executive Director of the Roche Center at Boston College, who will speak about building positive board relationships.

· Jim, the president of Father Ryan HS in Nashville, and me will help put all the ideas together on the last day.

The Greeley Center of Loyola-Chicago has been kind enough to underwrite many of our expenses, and the Meitler Group, the Diocese of Nashville, and FACTS Education have signed on as partners. Here is a link to the Nashville Exchange flyer. Please go to this link for more information and to register.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Big picture

Case Studies Ripped from the Headlines

In this section, I present a Catholic school controversy in the headlines. I don't mean to single out one school or criticize its leaders. I want to present the story and offer you a few questions to consider in case this controversy lands on your desk this year. I encourage you to look at the particulars of the situation to understand the intricacies of the controversy.

We're in the heart of basketball season. At some point, every administrator has to deal with an unruly crowd and it's becoming increasingly difficult to stay on top of the student cheering section--what are they saying? what does it mean? etc. A Catholic school in Illinois had to deal with racist cheers and taunts and responded by reiterating kindness. Are you paying attention to your student section? Are you teaching the behavior you want to see?

American Catholic School News

Catholic Schools Opening & Closing

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


What I'm Up To

Last week I was able to travel to a few of our All-School Masses. I was touched by Fr. Wayne's blessing of a primary student (right). He got down on their level and put his heart into the blessing. Fr. Wayne is a retired priest and I'm grateful for his presence at the liturgy and for his example.

This week I'll be in the office for the first couple of days, including Virtual Admin meetings on Tuesday, and then will be traveling to Billings for a Board meeting and to St. Labre for accreditation trainings for the school principals in the St. Labre system.

This week on the Catholic School Matters podcast I welcome two interesting guests to the podcast. The first is my old friend Jim McIntyre. We talk about our new venture, The Nashville Exchange, which we designed for presidents/heads of schools in Diocesan/Archdiocesan high schools. We talk about why the conference is important and how it will work. Then I'm joined by one of the presenters at the conference, Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach, the newly-appointed Executive Director of the Roche Center at Boston College. We discuss her pathway to leadership and lessons learned from her time leading a school in Milwaukee, teaching at Notre Dame, and everywhere in between.

In case you missed it, the last episode of the podcast featured two young school leaders explaining their vocation to their schools and their zeal for their work in Catholic education. Emily Lazor, a 4th year staff member at Dallas Cristo Rey College Prep HS, explained her path to Dallas Cristo Rey and the culture of the school. Matt Hauptly first discussed his pathway to leadership and his decision to enroll in the Remick Leadership program at Notre Dame.

Here is the link to the podcast. Here are videos showing you how to download and subscribe to a podcast on Apple podcasts and how to download and subscribe a podcast on Android.

  • Monday: Offfice (Helena)
  • Tuesday: Virtual Admin Meetings at 9 am and 1 pm
  • Wednesday: Visit to Billings Catholic Schools
  • Thursday: WCEA accreditation training for St. Labre system (Ashland)
  • Friday: return to Helena

Miles this week: 799 road miles

Miles travelled in 2019-20: 20,410 road miles; 28,265 air miles

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Shaping School Culture, 3rd edition (2016) by Terrence E. Deal & Kent D. Peterson
    2. Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen: Spiritual Guides for the 21st Century (2019) by Michael W. Higgins

    3. The Way of Fuzzy Faith (2019) by Michael Quillin

    4. Immortal Diamond: Searching for Our True Self (2013) by Richard Rohr

    5. How Great Leaders Think: The Art of Reframing (2014) by Lee G. Bolman & Terrence E. Deal

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            For Montana Administrators & Teachers

            • Here is a link for the Feb 4th Virtual Admin meeting. School leaders are challenged to come up with a 1-minute story about a student who turned around

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Jan 26, 2020 "Learning from our Elders"

            Jan 12, 2020 "Shaping School Culture"

            Jan 5, 2020 "Timelessness"

            Nov 24, 2019 "Best of the Fall"

            Nov 17, 2019 "Synodality"

            Nov 3, 2019 "Finance Best Practices"

            Oct 27, 2019 "Blaine Amendments"

            Oct 20, 2019 "Community & Belongingness"

            Oct 13, 2019 Sr. Angie's Lawlapalooza

            Oct 6, 2019 "River of Fire"

            Sep 29, 2019 "Male and Female He Created Them"

            Sep 22, 2019 "Surveying Catholic Culture"

            Sep 15, 2019 "New Catholic Schools"

            Sep 8, 2019 "The Mustard Seed Project"

            The Nashville Exchange

            Join this first annual conference for Diocesan high school presidents. Here is a link to the Nashville Exchange flyer. Please go to this link for more information and to register.

            Orchestrating Conflict

            Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon. 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. This is my first book and has been an ongoing project for the past couple of years.