Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

April 11, 2016

NCEA Convention Echoes

At the NCEA convention in San Diego, David Coleman delivered the keynote address. Coleman is the President and CEO of the College Board which produces the SAT, the PSAT, and the Advanced Placement Curriculum. His talk was centered on college preparation but was nevertheless thought-provoking. Here are a few points which have given me reflection:

Coleman spoke of “productive solitude.” College is an experience of isolation where people don’t care as much about you as they do in high schools. Catholic high schools invite students into communities in order to teach self-sufficiency and confidence, which serves them well. But they also emphasize a relationship with God, which leads to comfort in solitude.

Restful excellence was a point of emphasis for Coleman. He stresses keeping the Sabbath holy (or simply keeping a day reseved for family) and also balancing our different demands. Do you know what predicts success in college (other than GPA and test scores)? Research shows that prolonged engagement in one activity is an indicator of future success. In other words, quality engagement, not quantity. So we need to stress that students should worry less about filling their schedules with every activity possible and instead focus their efforts on a more balanced life.

Consider Coleman's thoughts when reading the article from The Atlantic entitled "Why Do Some Poor Kids Thrive?" In researching poor students from Baltimore in a decade, they found that kids who had found an "identity project"--meaning a singular passion which consumed their time and interest--were more likely to make it out of poverty.

Gratitude and grace are emphasize in Catholic schools. How many students make it to graduation and forget to thank those who helped them? If so, then we have failed to instill an attitude of gratitude and have given them a sense of entitlement (i.e. “I deserve these accolades”).

Twice during his talk, Coleman repeated this phrase: “It may not be your fault, but it is your problem.” I can recall countless times in my educational career I have uttered the phrase, “It’s not my problem” because I have assumed that someone else caused it. However, because a student hasn’t learned the material he should have—or the teacher was hired by the previous principal—or the school’s pastor has decided to take a school in a certain direction—those are MY PROBLEMS NOW. I can’t pass on the present because I wasn’t involved in the past. I’m involved in shaping the future.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: Bozeman meetings

Tuesday: office (Helena); drive to Miles City

Wednesday: Sacred Heart WCEA visit (Miles City)

Thursday: Billings meetings

Friday: St. Paul Education Association 1st meeting (Hays)

This week: 1,246 miles

Last week: 730 miles

2015-16: 22,807 driving miles; 12,625 air miles

What I'm Reading in 2016

  1. What College Trustees Need to Know (underway)
  2. HBR's 10 Must Reads "On Emotional Intelligence" (underway)
  3. A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne (finished)
  4. The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations by John P. Kotter (finished)
  5. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen (finished)
  6. Motion Leadership by Michael Fullan (finished)
  7. The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda (finished)
  8. It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff (finished)
  9. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip & Greg Heath (finished)
  10. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeon (finished)
  11. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (finished)
  12. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (finished)
  13. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (finished)
  14. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (finished)
  15. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

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

For Principals

  1. The Great Falls Task Force has met twice and is planning to issue a survey tomorrow and then hold listening sessions this month. Here is the link to the minutes from the last meeting.
  2. The Principal/President Evaluation process is now underway. Today is the last day to participate in the Perception Check surveys. Principals & presidents filled out goal statements last fall and will be asked to evaluate themselves as part of the process. Here is the form that I will fill out, too. I have scheduled dates for these interviews when I will come and visit the school and observe the learning climate, share the perception data, and talk about the principal's performance this year. These dates: Bart Freese, Sacred Heart (April 13th); Sr. Helen, St. Paul Mission Grade School (April 15th); Vickie Donisthorpe, GFCC (April 19th); Catherine Kirchner, St. Mary's (April 22nd); Sarah Zook, OLL (April 25th); Jim Wichman, Holy Spirit (April 26th); Jeremy Beck (April 27th); Don Peoples, Butte Central (May 9th); Lauren Smith, St. Matt's (May 11th); Br. Dale Mooney, DLSBS (May 12th); Julanne Gauger, St. Jude (TBD).
  3. The Annual Report template is now posted and ready for each principal. This Annual Report is due June 9th at the June Principal Meeting in Livingston.
  4. Safe Environment update for the Diocese of Helena. Please track your employees' progress in the VIRTUS program. We've already seen some volunteers fall so far behind they need to repeat the initial class.
  5. Safe Environment update for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings: even though the LIFE program is new, it's not optional! Please schedule and complete the requirements. Here is the instruction sheet:
  6. On the horizon: April 17th is Good Shepherd Sunday. It might be a good idea to honor your school pastors in some way. April 22nd is Earth Day.
  7. The survey for Catholic school teachers is a week away.
  8. Are you interested in developing a new SCRIP program or are you interested in moving to a more online type of program? ScripSense might be the program for you.
  9. MagnifKids (published by Magnificat) might be a great resource to add to your religion classes.
  10. NCEA has a full slate of webinars available for member schools. Take a look at the lineup.

American Catholic News

Top Five | Amoris Laetitia "The Joy of Love"

Leadership Links

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