Catholic School Matters

November 20, 2016

Celebrate the Good News

Last week I had the privilege to meet with the great principals and presidents of our Catholic schools. This is no small task because even with 3 regional meetings, it involves quite a bit of travel. Many of our principals traveled two hours each way for the four hour meeting, essentially giving up a day of work to come together. It was great to hear about the success of the Going Deeper faith formation, the favorable reception to our speakers at our common professional development days, and the implementation of the new religion standards.

One of my favorite features of the meeting is hearing the good news from each one of the schools. Since this is the week of Thanksgiving, here are short summaries which serve as small examples of innovation and best practices in our schools:

· Our Lady of Lourdes (Great Falls) reported the stabilizing of the school climate after a couple years of turmoil and the remarkable pastoral leadership of Fr. Alphonsus Enelichi.

· Holy Spirit (Great Falls) reported the successful implementation of a technology coaching model whereby one teacher has been spending a couple of hours assisting other teachers in implementing their plentiful technology resources.

· Central Catholic HS (Great Falls) boasts a stronger Catholic Culture Committee and a growing enrollment this year.

· De La Salle Blackfeet (Browning) has a new President/Principal model which will free up Br. Dale to pursue more fundraising and the school had a very successful WCEA visit.

· Pretty Eagle Academy (St. Xavier) has suffered through the loss of one its students but has reported strong teacher morale and burgeoning parent education programs.

· St. Labre Elementary (Ashland) has finally hired a full slate of teachers and spent a day in in a curriculum development workshop.

· St. Labre Middle (Ashland) reported improved attendance and strong intervention programs.

· St. Labre HS (Ashland) has seen rising ACT scores and a higher enrollment.

· St. Charles (Pryor) celebrated its 125th anniversary this fall and a successful WCEA visit.

· St. Francis Primary (Billings) instituted staff prayer every day before school and has seen improved focus and camaraderie.

· St. Francis Intermediate (Billings) has worked to improve differentiated instruction to serve all students.

· St. Francis Upper (Billings) is working to implement standards-based grading and educating its teachers, parents, and students about its purpose.

· Central Catholic HS (Billings) has a new boiler system which has created a more comfortable climate and the staff has engaged in an ethics education program which is showing great results.

· St. Paul Mission Grade School (Hays) has a new Board structure supported by the Diocese and the St. Labre network.

· St. Jude Thaddeus (Havre) celebrated its 100th anniversary and a successful WCEA visit.

· St. Joseph’s (Missoula) has expanded its Early Education program to another location

· Loyola Sacred Heart HS (Missoula) has a strong and unusual senior class with 29 males and only 7 females. The class has proven to be full of leadership and spirit.

· The Missoula Catholic School system has a new President/Board model which is working hard to identify and implement improvements.

· Central Catholic Elementary (Butte) has lots of new technology and (almost) full implementation. Due to a substantial donation, the school has upgraded its hardware. When it did, it realized it didn’t have the capacity!

· Central Catholic HS (Butte) has implemented a morning meeting each day for teachers and has converted its library into a virtual learning space.

· The Butte Catholic School system has benefited from almost $2 million in donations from bequests in the past 18 months. They don’t call it the Richest Hill on Earth for nothing!

We have plenty to be thankful. If you focus on the bright spots, our schools look better!

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

Tomorrow, Episode #11 will drop and will include a great interview with Barb Gilman, the outstanding 3rd grade teacher at St. Margaret Mary in Omaha. Barb is everywhere on Twitter and social media. And then on Tuesday (Nov 22nd) I'll release a BONUS issue when a special guest will interview me. This will give me an opportunity to explain the purpose of the podcast, what I've learned, and what's ahead. Last Monday, Episode #10 dropped and included an interview with Dr. Mary Chase of Creighton University. The director of enrollment management and the Vice-Provost of Strategic Planning, Dr. Chase discusses the struggles and the role of Catholic universities

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

The Week Ahead

Monday 11/21: office (Helena) & OLL Adv Council (Great Falls)

Tuesday 11/22: office (Helena)

Wed 11/23-Tues 11/29: vacation

Wed 11/30: office (Helena) & Holy Spirit Adv Council (Great Falls)

Thurs Dec 1: office (Helena)

Fri Dec 2: office (Helena)

Next 2 weeks: 530 driving miles

Last week: 1,217 driving miles

2016-17: 15,462 driving miles; 12,112 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey
  2. Reading with the daughter:The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. Finished:Voyage of the Dawn Treader; Prince Caspian; The Horse and His Boy; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Magician's Nephew.
  3. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen (finished)
  4. The Purple Goldfish by Stan Phelps (finished)
  5. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen (finished)
  6. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. (finished)
  7. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman (finished)
  8. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour (finished)
  9. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  10. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  11. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3900+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

For Principals & Teachers

  1. NCEA in partnership with RenWeb is offering a webinar on Thursday, Dec 1st on likes and pins on Facebook and Pinterest. Here's the link.
  2. School Messenger offered a webinar on school safety.
  3. Here is the slideshow for the regional leadership meetings held in November.
  4. Please distribute the following survey to all staff members who attended the Professional Development Days. The survey is due November 22nd.
  5. This is the final call for nominations for Educator of the Week. Nominations must include a picture and a short reason for the nomination. I haven't received any nominations for the next issue.
  6. Montana Catholic Schools now has a new Facebook page. and Pinterest board. Please like it so I can share marketing material there.
  7. On the Horizon:
  • E3 Team Training: Nov 22nd 9 am
  • Virtual Leadership Meetings Jan 24th 9 am and/or 1 pm
  • 7th/8th grade days at the legislature Feb 24th

American Catholic News

Leadership Links

Teaching & Instruction


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Educator of The Week: Jane Girard

NB: Teachers are encouraged to nominate a colleague for this prestigious honor. Please send in a short bio and picture.

There is an angel among us at St. Charles Mission School. Jane Girard has blessed our students and staff beyond measure for many years. She was an amazing fifth grade teacher for many years followed by a few years in middle school. Her students thrived under her dedicated instruction. She is a passionate teacher of writing skills. Every student in her classroom comes away with writing skills that serve them well throughout their lives.

After many years as an awesome classroom teacher, Jane became the librarian of our school. Her library was a delightful and welcoming space for our students. She also taught religion classes and prepared the children for our weekly school masses. Because of her loving example and instruction, our students are able to serve in all of the various ministries (readers, ushers, gift bearers, altar servers, etc.) with confidence and respect.

A few years ago Jane retired. We missed her tremendously. Fortunately, she missed us also and she returned to her calling as a librarian and religion teacher. But God had more plans for her! This year the 5th grade teaching position has not been filled and Jane readily agreed to return to the classroom and bless our 5th graders as their homeroom teacher. Additionally, she keeps the library operating and continues to prepare our weekly school masses. Wow!

This dear lady has responded energetically and passionately to God's call in her life. She cares deeply for every student in our school. She is a friend and mentor to every staff member. She drives MANY miles to school and is the first person to arrive at work each morning.

Jane Girard is the ULTIMATE Catholic educator and a blessing to every person at St. Charles.

We thank God for our friend, Jane!