Catholic School Matters

May 10, 2021

Wear Your Seatbelt

The recent glut of vaccines and the announcement that approval for ages 12 and up has changed the educational landscape. In addition the expected approval of vaccines for ages 6 months to 12 this summer means that most of our students will have the opportunity to be vaccinated (at least once) this summer. Suddenly, school next year looks very different.

Holding up this new reality are the vaccine hesitant. I don’t debate the ardently vaccine hesitant. Instead I point to Pope Francis. He was vaccinated and has encouraged us to get vaccinated. If you reject his advice, holding your opinion as more valuable than the Pope’s, you’re going down a very dangerous path. I would instead offer an analogy to those on the fence.

I recall my father’s resistance to seat belt laws. “Why can’t the government just leave me alone?” he would ask. He had grown up without seat belts, driving tractors and taking responsibility for his own safety. His argument was based on personal freedom. Others would argue about government overreach and some would even say they would be safer without seat belts. Yes, that was a thing.

The winning argument was that car crashes without seat belts were costly to lives and to resources. In this case, it was the government’s role to legislate safe behavior and not allow people like my Dad to exercise one of their personal freedoms.

What if we treated COVID vaccinations like seat belts? Stop worrying about offending people’s convictions about these vaccines. We all need to get vaccinated to protect one another. The common good supersedes individual freedoms. If we are able to get our students vaccinated, we’ll reduce the anxiety in our school communities and return to the type of education we all enjoy.

Perhaps we should all step up and encourage each other to vaccinate. For each other.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Deliberate Practice Section

The Supreme Court recently heard a case on Free Speech centering on a cheerleader's rant on social media. If one of your students complained about a coach or teacher on social media, how would you respond? Do you have policies to rely upon? Are there limits to when you will intervene? Or do you simply respond to each crisis accordingly?

What I'm Up To

  • Mon: Travel/ Remote Work
  • Tues: Cantalician Center Board meeting; visit to St. Alphonsus Regional School (Springville); dinner with Dr. Tom Burnford
  • Wed: Podcast with Michael Deegan released; Staff Meeting; Meeting with High School Principals & Catholic Virtual
  • Thurs: Mass & visit to St. Joe's Collegiate
  • Fri: Principal meeting (all day)

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Catholic Schools Closing & Opening

  1. Catholic school near Pittsburgh to close

  2. Shenandoah Catholic school to close;

Here is the curated list of Catholic schools closing at the end of the 2021 school year and new schools opening for the 2021-22 year.

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


Catholic School Matters podcast

As the Diocese of Buffalo engages in its "Road to Renewal" which will involve parish and school reorganizations, I have engaged school leaders from other dioceses who have embarked on governance reorganizations in order to hear what has worked, what has been changed, and best practices. Last week, Lincoln Snyder from the Diocese of Sacramento joined me to discuss their regional school board model. This week, Mr. Michael Deegan joins me to discuss the Archdiocese of New York model.

Check out the past episodes from this season:

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. The Surprising Gift of Doubt: Use Uncertainty to Become the Exceptional Leader You Are Meant to Be (2021) by Marc A. Pitman
    2. Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know (2021) by Adam Grant

    3. Against the Grain: The History of Buffalo's First Ward (2012) by Timothy Bohen

    4. Buffalo at the Crossroads: The Past, Present, and Future of American Urbanism (2020) Edited by Peter Christensen

    5. Restoring Trust in the Catholic Parish (2021) by Marijka Eeuwes Lampard

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Orchestrating Conflict

            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.