Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

September 8, 2015

Leading the Way

Last week I had the privilege to speak with Garla Williamson, the excellent principal at Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy, the K-8 Indian school in St. Xavier. Located on the Crow reservation, this great little school has been serving Indian students (tuition-free) since 1887 and is now a member of the St. Labre network of schools.

Garla, who is Chippewa by birth but has married into the Crow tribe, was educated at the St. Labre schools and has been serving as the principal for 11 years. The challenges faced by Garla and her great group of dedicated teachers and staff members are seemingly insurmountable. With a free/reduced lunch rate over 80% in the school, the students are impacted by poverty’s awful effects such as addiction, abuse, broken families, and neglect.

Facing these challenges, Garla is determined to show her students there is a better way. She preaches positive discipline and models patience and firmness as she builds high expectations for attendance, good behavior, and excellent study habits. In her experience, many of the students come from families where dysfunction is normal. She wants students respected, loved, and treated with dignity. She wants students to be heard and to know that their teachers are paying attention.

She is convinced that the lessons of the school need to be spread to the families at Pretty Eagle and to the wider community, too. Coming from a family affected by alcoholism, Garla has turned to Al-Anon for guidance. She leads a group and shares the effects of addiction on families. She hopes that this work will continue to animate her work and will work to reverse the many deleterious effects of poverty one child at a time.

Garla is an inspirational leader and we are lucky to have her as one of our principals.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Tuesday: De La Salle Blackfeet School (Browning)

Wednesday: Chancery, Bp Warfel meeting, GFCC meeting, UGF meeting (Great Falls)

Thursday: office (Helena)

Friday: Billings meetings

Saturday: Diocesan Pastoral Leadership Meeting (cont)

Sunday: fly to WCEA meetings (Los Angeles)

This week: 928 driving + 1,173 flight miles

Last week: 947 miles

This year: 2.172 miles

Montana Catholic Schools

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

For Principals

  1. Reminder that Jean is expecting you to RSVP the names of the staff members who wish to take the "Old Testament Themes" class which was last year's Marian class. She will also need to know who will be attending in person and who will be attending virtually and whether they are taking the class for OPI hours or graduate credit. The Marian class will be held at 10 am on Sep 25th in Helena. For those who request a "virtual" class, we'll be setting up a account.
  2. Reminder that on Thursday, Sep 17th we'll be hosting the MAP administration teleconference at 3:30 pm. The phone call will be led by a NWEA employee and she will be giving suggestions and sharing best practices. The call-in number is 1-888-875-1833 and the code is 776249372l
  3. The WCEA visiting team training will be held on Friday, Sep 25th at 2:00 pm (and should last approx 90 minutes). All teachers/principals signed up to be on a team this year are required to attend.
  4. The Diocese of Helena is conducting healing services in each region. School principals are asked to attend and to publicize this event so that teachers, staff members, students, and parents are all invited.
  5. The Western regional dioceses are gathering in March for a professional development conference in Salt Lake City March 3rd & 4th. If you'd like more information, please let me know.
  6. Take a look at next year's schedule. We're looking at August 22nd and 23rd for the New Teacher Retreat. Initial reaction?

American Catholic News

Pope Francis News

Leadership Articles

The Five Types of Mentors You Need

Teaching & Instruction

Creating Space for Risk


The Myth of Quality (Family) Time

By Frank Bruni of the New York Times

7 Thinking Dispositions

Dangers of Smartphones

A great article on the effects of smartphones on sleep and attention:
Classroom Chaos – The craziness of kindergarten: Little Beasts Series