Catholic School Matters

September 28, 2021

Coming Together

Over the last 18 months, we’ve all experienced loss and disruption. We’ve lost touch with our communities and many touchstone events. On October 8th, we’ll be gathering together at the Our Lady of Victory Basilica as one Catholic school community—over 700 faculty and staff, pastors, principals, along with Bishop Fisher and the Department of Catholic Schools staff.

Usually getting everyone together is hard enough due to every school’s desire to be left alone and manage itself. “We’re not a school system, we’re a system of schools” is the mantra. Therefore asking principals to commit to a morning of liturgy and community is daunting. The pandemic has made it even more challenging.

We’re moving forward because it’s important to come together. Bishop Fisher has been with us 9 months and the department of Catholic schools has seen some new additions, too. We should give Bishop Fisher a chance to address all of us and outline his vision for the diocese. We are blessed to have a basilica with enough space for all. Its history and beauty deserve to be experienced by all of our faculty and staff members.

In addition to the separateness that has been a part of our lives, so many of our schools have been experiencing turnover in their ranks. We have so many teachers new to our system. We need to explain and experience together what Catholic schools are. It's hard to espouse community when we're not making efforts to build it!

The SJCI Varsity Singers are providing us with music to enhance the liturgy. After Mass, I’m planning to share the 5 Core Values of our Catholic schools. It’s an exploration of mission and what sets us apart. I look forward to seeing you on October 8th at 8:00 am.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Office Updates

  1. On Friday, October 8th the Department of Catholic Schools will be hosting an All-Schools Mass at Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna. The activities will begin at 8:00 AM and end at 11:30 AM. As a reminder we strongly encourage all schools to ask their teachers to please carpool. All people will be required to mask during the event.

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

  3. Registration has begun for the free annual Religious and Independent Schools Educators (RISE) conference taking place virtually on November 9th and 10th. This is an excellent professional development opportunity for you and your teachers, with many of the sessions taking place after school ends. Here are the Links for more information: RISE Conference | nyscirs and Program. To register, go to RISE 2021 Conference Registration Form (

Kari Buchinger on Academics

Our exploration of core instructional practices continues! Objectives have been established to guide the lesson, a formative assessment is prepared, and we know exactly what our students need to be able to achieve by the end of the lesson. Now, it is time to dive into the methodology and determine how to get students to mastery. This often fits into the I do, we do, you all do, you do structure. However, what appears to be a simple structure requires significant intellectual preparation, familiarity with proper resources, and a dedication to guide students to mastery. Don't worry; we will take this one step at a time.

First, we are going to dive into the "I do" or direct instruction. This is where teachers get to share their expertise with their students. However, it is easy to fall into a pattern of direct instruction becoming the sharing of many facts. Then, we expect students to be able to apply this overload of information to a new setting. That can be very difficult and sometimes impossible.

Instead, teachers can have the most significant impact by explaining in detail their own thought processes and providing models when addressing new or challenging content. What does an effective model look like?

  1. Name the strategy (Today, I will show you how to combine sentences to make more complex sentences.)
  2. State the purpose of the strategy, skill, or task (A writer needs to create sentences that aren't repetitive.)
  3. Explain when the strategy or skill is used (After I have written a passage, I reread it to see if I have repeating information.)
  4. Use analogies to link prior knowledge to new learning (I like to think of this as making sure I make a straight path for my readers to follow.)
  5. Demonstrate how the skill, strategy, or task is completed (I'm going to show you three short, choppy sentences. I'll look first for information I can cross out because it is repetitive.)
  6. Alert learners about errors to avoid (I have to be careful not to cut out so much information that I lose the meaning.)
  7. Assess the use of the skill (Now I'm going to reread my new sentences to see if it makes sense) (Fisher, Frey Better Learning Through Structured Teaching)

As you plan your direct instruction, keep in mind these steps. Students are watching and learning from us, and the more explicit we can be with our direct instruction, the greater their level of understanding. Next week we will continue our focus on direct instruction and learn more about think alouds and how this strategy can support all learners.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Chris Riso on Government Services

Thank you for submitting your daily COVID report to NYSDOH. After two full weeks of school our Catholic schools had a total of 35 reported COVID cases, with 11 cases the first week and 24 cases last week. Please continue to encourage your staff and students to practice masking and physical distancing during the school day, and even outside of the school day, to keep our case counts low and minimize the impact on the school environment. We will continue to monitor our weekly totals.

Please return your completed NCEA Excel spreadsheet to Cathryn Harrower at by the 9/30/2021 deadline. We will send you information next week to help you prepare for the upcoming NYS BEDS report (anchor date is 10/6/21; report due 11/19/21).

I was reminded that many of you do not know who the contact person is for your NYS Vendor ID accounts and may wish to update that information. Here is the process that was sent to me by a NYSED representative:

To Change Information about your Vendor Account

1. Go to:

2. Log In to your account and make the changes online or else select the appropriate paper/digital form (AC-3326-S or AC-3327-S).


You have 3 submission options:

· Fax: (518) 473-9533

· Email:

· Mail: 110 State Street Mail Drop 10-4, Albany, NY 12236-0001

For step-by-step online instructions, select the “help” link once you have logged into the Vendor Portal and select the appropriate topic. If any further assistance is needed, please contact the help desk at or (855) 233-8363.

As Election Day (11/2/2021) approaches, I just wanted to remind you to encourage the adults in your school community to register to vote by the 10/8/2021 deadline and then vote in the coming election. Elected officials can tell if a person has voted in an election so you add additional weight to any emails you might send to them with your opinions on Catholic School concerns. Information on voter registration can be found here,, and at your county Board of Elections (

And it wouldn’t hurt to remind faculty and staff not to advocate for candidates in the classroom!

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays.
  2. School Visit Schedule
  3. Catechetical Day (morning, 8:30-11:30) October 8th, OLV Basilica
  4. 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

Catholic School Matters

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

Articles for Your Reflection

What I'm Reading

    1. How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education (2020) by Scott Newstok
    2. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (2019 edition) by Jim Collins

    3. Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity: The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation (2019) by Floyd Cobb & John Krownapple

    4. The Edge: How Ten CEOs Learned to Lead - and the Lessons for Us All (2021) by Michael Useem

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

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            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