Catholic School Matters

October 12, 2021

Core Beliefs

Last Friday, we gathered at the Basilica to celebrate Mass with Bishop Fisher. We heard him speak about the need for renewal in our diocese and his appreciation for our work in Catholic education.

After Mass, I introduced five paintings (link here) which illustrate our five core beliefs which articulate our mission as Catholic schools. By saying “our,” of course, I’m talking about the Department of Catholic Schools but in a sense I’m talking about all of us. Here are the five beliefs and their corresponding artistic portrayals:

1. We believe that God calls us to service through community. We chose the portrayal of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples to illustrate how service is tied to community and how we’re all challenged to serve, not to be served.

2. We believe that we need each other. This form of collaboration is best portrayed by the story of the lowering of the paralytic to be healed. The disciples worked together to find a unique way to solve a problem.

3. We believe that everyone has value. The painting of the visitation symbolizes belonging and our need for community.

4. We believe that Catholic schools are where students come alive. The painting of the banjo lesson captures the joyful experience of learning. We hope that our schools are joyful places where students are loved.

5. We believe that we all need to be instruments of healing. The need for healing and mercy is perhaps best illustrated by the story of the Prodigal Son. We need to forgive and teach our students that nothing we do can separate us from God’s love.

Last week, I discussed the need for a collaborative culture. We’ll continue to build these beliefs into our programming and our messaging. By doing so, we hope to echo our mission of Catholic education and call us to our fundamental reasons for working in Catholic schools—namely, to form authentic Catholic communities where students will be seen, heard, and loved.

Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Office Updates

  1. Safe Environment for Children programs must be completed by November 1st.

  2. The Catholic Charities Help Line is 716-218-1419. This number should be widely distributed.

  3. If you have questions about the Catholic Charities Annual Fund, Stephanie George can be reached at 716-218-1400

  4. Link here for the Catholic Schools Day at the BPO (Jan 18, 2022). Here's the link to the registration form.

  5. Registration has begun for the free annual Religious and Independent Schools Educators (RISE) conference taking place virtually on November 9th and 10th. Here are the Links for more information: RISE Conference | nyscirs and Program. To register, go to RISE 2021 Conference Registration Form (

  6. October is Respect Life Month. If your school is interested in sponsoring one of the 5 families at the Mother Teresa Home by purchasing Christmas gifts or raising money for gift cards, let us know. This is a great way to promote life issues.

Kari Buchinger on Academics

Classrooms across our diocese are focused on seeing their students develop as readers. This may be happening in the whole class, in small groups, or during one-on-one support. How exactly do students grow as readers? By reading as much as they possibly can every day. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, how many words per day are my students actually reading? You may be surprised by the answer.

We often find ourselves settling for "popcorn reading" or "round robin reading." This is when the teacher chooses a random student to read a short passage from a text, and then the student or teacher chooses another classmate to read. I'm sure you all can recall a moment when this happened to you in class. If you were anything like me, you started to read ahead to make sure you could read all of the words to avoid the embarrassment of mispronunciation in front of your peers. Due to this anxious feeling, students are focusing so much on fluency their comprehension suffers. You may be wondering, what can replace this strategy? I challenge you to give the following a try.

Choral Reading: The teacher and students read a passage together in unison. This allows readers to hear proper fluency and avoid stigma for those that may be struggling.

Partner Reading: Two students pair up and alternate reading paragraphs aloud.

Silent Reading: Students have an opportunity to read to themselves. This can be very successful when teachers provide vocabulary support upfront and/or provide a plot overview.

Teacher Read Alouds: Students have an opportunity to have fluent reading modeled by an expert, and students' cognitive processes can be focused on comprehension and evaluation of the text.

Echo Reading: Students echo back what the teacher reads, including pronunciation, inflection, and pacing.

These simple strategies also allow students to increase the number of words read per day. In turn, their fluency, comprehension, and evaluative skills will grow tremendously. Let's get reading!

Attention principals! Here is a copy of the diocesan observation form. We will review this in detail when we gather for our meeting on the 28th. This can also be found on the principals’ resource section on our website.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Chris Riso on Government Services

Important Dates:

10/13/21 Emergency Connectivity Fund Program Application Filing Window Closes

10/15/21 NCEA Updates/Corrections Due to our Office

10/29/21 Register for Albany RISE Conference – Online Conference

11/1/21 Title I Letters Sent to Each Public School District w/Poverty Students

11/19/21 BEDS Report Due to NYSED via Business Portal IRS-Data Exchange

12/1/21 Fire Safety Inspection Must be Completed; Report Due 12/15/2021

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays. This week we'll have an open Q & A.
  2. Diocesan Advisory Council meeting October 21st.
  3. School Administrators meeting (in person) October 28th at OLV, 8:30-2:30
  4. School Visit Schedule
  5. Diocese of Buffalo Catholic days at the BPO Jan 18th


  1. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  2. Here's a link to the forms on our website.
  3. New Policy Manual
  4. New Operations Manual
  5. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

What I'm Reading

    1. Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity: The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation (2019) by Floyd Cobb & John Krownapple
    2. The Edge: How Ten CEOs Learned to Lead - and the Lessons for Us All (2021) by Michael Useem

    3. Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen (2020) by Dan Heath

    4. TrustED: The Bridge to School Improvement (2021) by Toby A. Travis

    5. Leading Change: An Action Plan from the World's Foremost Expert on Business Leadership (1996) by John P. Kotter

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            October 5, 2021 "A Culture of Collaboration"

            September 28, 2021 "Coming Together"

            September 21, 2021 "How We Doing?"

            September 14, 2021 "Retention, Retention"

            September 7, 2021 "Operations Manual"

            August 31, 2021 "Swimming Upstream"

            August 24, 2021 "Learning in Community"

            August 11, 2021 "Another COVID Opening"

            August 4, 2021 "Welcome Back"

            For previous newsletters, click this link