Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

April 4, 2016

Innovations in Montana Catholic Schools

Last month I gathered with principals in different regions and heard the good news happening in the Montana Catholic Schools. Here’s the rundown:


· St. Labre High School has shown gains in retention—losing only three freshmen this year during the year is an enormous gain. They recently completed their mid-cycle WCEA review and are showing progress on all of their goals. They had an issue with player and fan behavior during one of their postseason tournaments but addressed it strongly and received support for using this situation to teach good sportsmanship.

· Sacred Heart (Miles City) is planning to open a preschool due to demand and is busily preparing for their WCEA accreditation visit this month. The school’s enrollment continues to climb.

· St. Francis Intermediate (Billings) has gained instructional time this year by starting daily faculty prayer a little earlier and expecting students to be in their seats a little earlier.

· St. Francis Upper just sent another group of 8th graders to Washington, DC, for their annual trip and conducted a successful science fair where every student was involved.

· St. Francis Primary: Enrollment for next year is very strong and Principal Deb Hayes has met and toured every new parent. Teachers have been working on their binders for accreditation. The self- study is complete and we will be presenting it to the Education committee on March 30th.

· St. Charles Mission Grade School (Pryor) is currently working on their self-study in anticipation of their fall WCEA visit as well as their 125th anniversary celebration. We are working hard on the accreditation, budget and 125th Anniversary Party. Thursday April 21, 2016 is the last Spirit. This is their (in conjunction with Rocky Mountain College and Little Big Horn College) Drug and Alcohol class for students 5th -8th, and they will be inviting parents and guardians for an end of the year traditional meal of Fry Bread and boiled ribs.

· St. Paul Mission Grade School (Hays) is currently undergoing a restructuring. The St. Paul Educational Association has been formed to separate the school from the parish and direct the fundraising efforts of the school. Srs. Helen, Chris, and Nora plan to return for another year of service, marking the 37th year the Sparkill Dominicans have served the school. The school is currently engaged in a self-study in preparation for its visit next spring.

· De La Salle Blackfeet School (Browning) is also forming its own separate 501(c)3 to distinguish its unique character (property owned by Little Flower Parish, school owned and run the Christian Brothers). DLSBS is also pleased to see a high degree of faculty retention for next year with all but one of its teachers returning. The school is actively engaged in a self-study in preparation for a September WCEA visit.

· Divine Mercy Academy (Belgrade) is actively looking for a new location for its school and continues to see growth in enrollment. They are currently in the process of seeking Diocesan recognition.

· St. Matthew’s (Kalispell) started a successful project-based learning program for 6th-8th grades. Students are broken in to "teams" consisting of all three grade levels. The teachers and community members provide lessons/presentations. Atthe end of the day teams presented at an assembly attended by the school, parents and community with guest judges rating the presentations.

· St. Mary’s (Livingston) is trying to raise money for their new roof, trying to implement their new blended learning model, and engaged in a self-study in light of their spring 2017 WCEA visit. They are planning to adopt RenWeb as their student information system.

· St. Andrew’s (Helena) has obtained Diocesan recognition as a private Catholic school in the Diocese of Helena and is considering opening a preschool this fall.

· Missoula Catholic Schools are considering expanding their early education offerings, are opening up additional sections in Kindergarten and 1st grade, and are now looking to expand their classrooms. Loyola Sacred Heart earned their 33rd straight Speech & Debate state championship, believed to be a national record.

· Central Catholic High School (Great Falls) is looking at an increase in enrollment this fall with their largest freshman class in decades. Their enrollment will mean a move to Class B might be imminent.

· Holy Spirit (Great Falls) has seen enrollment growth and they credit their outreach to Malmstrom Air Force base as one of the reasons. The school offers a tuition discount to military families.

· The three Catholic schools in Great Falls (Central Catholic HS, Holy Spirit, OLL) are engaged in discussions to form a School System and are looking at ways to combine services. The early returns are positive as the schools have promised to work together on athletics and transportation and have all adopted FACTS and RenWeb.

· Butte Central Catholic Schools are also planning to adopt RenWeb as their SIS. The high school was still celebrating their girls basketball undefeated season capped off with a state championship in Class A.


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: Great Falls Task Force & UGS Presidential Search (GF)

Tuesday: UGF Academic Affairs Cte. (GF)

Wednesday: visit to DLSBS (Browning)

Thursday: Great Falls meetings

Friday: office (Helena)


This week: 730 miles

Last two weeks: 1,293 driving miles; 2,474 air miles

2015-16: 22,077 driving miles; 12,625 air miles

What I'm Reading in 2016

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (underway)
  2. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne (finished)
  3. The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations by John P. Kotter (finished)
  4. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (finished)
  5. Motion Leadership by Michael Fullan (finished)
  6. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda (finished)
  7. It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff (finished)
  8. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Greg Heath (finished)
  9. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeon (finished)
  10. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (finished)
  11. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (finished)
  12. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (finished)
  13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals

  1. Kathy Harris of Billings Catholic Schools has offered to host a meeting of development directors/marketing coordinators to share best practices on recruiting & enrollment management. Here's a link to the Doodle poll to schedule the meeting in May: http://doodle.com/poll/c2ni8ahaiub4rm5b
  2. The slideshow from the March regional principals meetings has now been posted on the Principal's Portal.
  3. A Google Form will be sent out this week surveying teachers on their professional development needs.
  4. Perception Checks were sent out to faculties, staffs, and Advisory Councils this week for all principals/presidents from Diocesan schools. If you need a hard copy or are curious about how they look, here is a link to a PDF version.
  5. On the horizon: April 17th is Good Shepherd Sunday. It might be a good idea to honor your school pastors in some way. April 22nd is Earth Day.

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