Catholic School Matters

September 11, 2016

Courage & Grief

Over the past two weeks, our St. Labre schools have suffered two terrible losses. First, 12 year-old Courtney Mae Little Nest, a 7th grade Crow student at Pretty Eagle Catholic Academy (part of the St. Labre Indian School network), was killed in a car accident. I joined over 600 mourners on September 1st to celebrate her life and mourn the terrible loss. That same day, a recently retired long-time teacher at St. Labre, Ken Kania, was killed in a head-on accident.


Both funerals were heart-wrenching for they were both deeply loved. Courtney Mae was an avid basketball player, full of life and possibilities. Ken was a Wisconsin native who came out to St. Labre to volunteer in 1973 and fell in love with Cheyenne culture and the St. Labre schools. He married Pam Oesterle, a fellow teacher at St. Labre and they ended up adopting two Blackfeet children and their family grew. Ken taught American history, Spanish, and Cheyenne culture, eventually being adopted by the tribe with the name “Beaver Appears,” which I learned was the name of the super moon which appeared after his birth in 1948 and is not due again until November of this year. Ken gave 40 great years to the students of St. Labre and is well-revered by former students and colleagues.


After witnessing two beautiful funerals—one Crow, one part-Cheyenne and one-part Catholic—I am filled with awe and gratitude for our great St. Labre schools. One particular moment stands out. Fr. Larry Weber, O.F.M. Cap, the parish priest at St. Labre who was driving the car that was hit, showed tremendous courage in con-celebrating the funeral Mass. During the Eucharistic prayer, he began reading his part, broke down in tears and said, “I can’t continue.” It was remarkably poignant and showed his courage to be vulnerable in his own time of grief.


Please join me in praying for Fr. Larry, for Ken and his family, for Courtney Mae and her family, and the entire St. Labre Indian School network.


Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

Ken Kania 1947-2016

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Courtney Mae Little Nest 2003-2016

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The Week Ahead

Sunday: Fly to Los Angeles

Monday: WCEA fall meeting (LA)

Tuesday: fly to Helena; office (Helena)

Wednesday: OPI meeting (morning); Missoula meetings (pm)

Thursday: Missoula meetings

Friday: office (Helena) am; drive to Havre

Saturday: St. Jude's 100th anniversary celebration (Havre)


This week: 695 driving miles; 2,160 air miles

Last week: 1,830 miles

2016-17: 7,331 miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour
  2. The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
  3. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  4. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  5. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

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

For Principals

  1. The USCCB is offering a free webinar on the changes that ESSA will bring on Thursday, Sept 15th from 2-3 pm Mountain time. Here is the link.
  2. You can nominate a student for NCEA's Youth Virtue, Value, and Valor award. The deadline is October 16th. Here are the details.
  3. There have been a few changes for scheduled principal meetings this fall and spring. Make sure to check out the new calendar.
  4. On the Horizon:

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Teaching & Learning

Five Principles of Extraordinary Math Teaching | Dan Finkel | TEDxRainier

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