Catholic School Matters
October 17, 2023
This Friday, our Middle States District Planning Team begins their work. Accreditation has begun! Recall that until this year, we were the only diocese in New York to not require accreditation, and with over 90% of Catholic schools nationwide requiring accreditation, we were in the minority.
With so many Catholic schools professing “We’re a system of schools, not a school system” it’s not surprising that systems thinking gets such a bad rap. After all, most of our schools wear their site-based realities as a badge of honor. But perhaps we’re not considering systems thinking the correct way.
Imagine one of those indoor rainforests found at most zoos. The climate is controlled, the flora and fauna are chosen carefully, and all threats are monitored. A broken water filter, a faulty thermostat, or a new invasive insect could all disrupt the system.
To extend the analogy, we have all thought about our Catholic schools the same way. When the number of religious sisters fell, we recognized the effect. When the sexual abuse crisis hit, we recognized the effect. As our buildings age, we recognize the impact. These are the three most prevalent examples of systems thinking.
The first task of our District Planning Team is to ensure that each school has identified a mission statement, core beliefs, vision statement, and a profile of a graduate. If not, we’ll work to identify those and perhaps agree on some common ground for our system foundations.
This work, however, should lead to systems-level thinking at your own site. Once you identify a clear mission statement, for example, it shouldn’t be difficult to craft your own value proposition. The same holds true for core beliefs, vision statements, and profile of a graduate. This is a chance for you to synthesize your academic programs, your understanding of your audience, and your hopes for marketing for growth.
Every journey begins with a step. So the journey begins on Friday and will culminate with an accreditation visit in the fall of 2025.
Previous blogs can be found here. Want to keep up with the conversations surrounding Catholic education? Set up your own Google Alert, subscribe to this newsletter by clicking "follow," or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.
Dr. Tim Uhl
The online requesting systems for the 2024 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math tests and the Grade 5 & 8 Science tests are now open. Online requests may be submitted HERE. The system closes November 10, 2023
In eSchool the PS class code is only to be used for preschool students who are special ed CPSE students. It is not to be used for your PK3 classes or any other distinction. Please use PKH for half day, PKF for full day, or PK. THIS IS A CHANGE THIS YEAR IN ESCHOOL. PLEASE UPDATE YOUR CLASSIFICATIONS IF YOU USE THIS CODE.
The Character Virtue for October is Sportsmanship. Please use this link to submit your student for October by Fri. 11/3.
The Future CIty Competition date is set for January 20, 2024. It is a STREAM competition for students in grades 6 - 8. Students work as a team, writing an essay, designing and creating a 3-D scale model (made of a variety of recycled materials) of part of their futuristic city (including a moving part) and preparing a presentation to showcase the best features of their city. This year's theme is "Electrify Your Future". It is time to register your school's team(s) and get going on the competition's components. See HERE for more information. Teams generally work with a professional engineer as a mentor, so students get first-hand experience on what an engineer does. If you have questions, please e-mail or call/text Pat Trimper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716-909-9468
The Diocesan Speech Tournament will be on January 20th, 9am at Cardinal O’Hara. It is open to grades 5-8.
We are busy getting ready for the 2nd Annual Math Tournament at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. See here for details. Register by Nov. 1st. Practice materials can be found here for both Elementary and Middle School. The Sprint round that needs to be done at school on Nov. 6th will be emailed to participating schools on Nov. 3rd.
Catholic School’s Day with the BPO is Feb. 13, 2024 at 10:15am. This year’s theme is The Orchestra's Secret Formula. Use the BPO Registration form to register your school (grades 1-4). Payments must be received by January 8th.
8th Grade Diploma Order Form must be completed by January 31st.
We've created a google doc for agendas and notes from the 8:30 am Wed Teams Meetings. Here is the link.
STAR Champion Academy is now being held on Oct. 25, 26 & 27 at UB Newman Center, 495 Skinnersville Rd, Getzville, NY 14228. Register HERE. View a sample of what will be covered here and how your school will benefit from Renaissance-U here
Here's the link to the Office Blog
Chris Riso on Government Services
10/23/23 NCEA Updates/Corrections Due to our Office via Google Sheet
10/28/23 Last day to register to vote in NYS – Encourage all Families to Vote!
BEDS Report: Thank you for completing your NCEA Reports and making any requested corrections (now or after you receive your review from our office); now I recommend that you move on to your NYS BEDS report. Once you complete the Google Sheet using the instructions we provided to help you prepare for the NYS BEDS report based on your student and staff attendance from 10/4/2023, you should enter the information online by 11/17/2023 using the NYSED Business Portal. When you are ready to file your BEDS report with NYSED, go to “IRS Data Exchange” under “My Applications” (do not use “BEDS/IMF” – that only holds your archival data now). It takes about 10 to 15 seconds to load but you should see “BEDS - Nonpublic Data Form” for “Collection Year” 2023-2024 as one of your choices on the new site. Once you click on it (and wait – it takes a while) you should be able to enter your data using this form. NYSED will warn you if you enter some things incorrectly; if that happens, make the necessary corrections and then update your Google Sheet before emailing it to us to let us know your form is complete.
Reminder: School Fire Safety Inspections must be completed Due by December 1 – Click here for Forms and Info from the Fire Safety Report webpage.
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
Articles for Your Reflection
Every "Best Practice" in Education Was Once an Innovation
I look back at an article I originally wrote in 2018, looking at the idea of "best practice" and how it is initially built on innovation. "Best Practice" didn't just originally come out of nowhere; it was once an innovation.
The "Best" Resources For Learning About The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
(This post was originally published during the 2008 Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip, but it includes broader resources on the conflict and is regularly updated, including the 2021 conflic...
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is underway. This month, I kicked off a series of podcasts on leadership in Catholic schools. These five podcasts will include a conversation with a Catholic school leader about five controversies which have impacted Catholic schools in the past year. Then I invite on another Catholic school thought leader to reflect on what they've heard. The third podcast includes a conversation with Dr. Kevin Baxter of ACE about five controversies, and then a shorter conversation Dr. Bill Hughes. Here's a blog post about the episode. Previous episodes:
- The second in the series includes a conversation with Greg Richmond of the Archdiocese of Chicago and commentary from Faustin Weber. Here's a blog post about the podcast.
- The first podcast includes a conversation with Dr. Daniel McMahon from DeMatha Catholic High School and a reflection by Beth Purvis of Wake Forest. I've also penned a blog post which gives a little more context to the project
- I invite John Kennedy of St. Josephy High School in South Bend onto the show to discuss the school's decision to drop their Native American nickname and the process by which this decision occurred
- I spoke with Fr. Jack Podsiadlo, SJ, the author of the recent book "The Nativity Phenomenon." In the book, he tells the story of how the Nativity schools began and their incredible growth. Now semi-retired back home at McQuaid, this was a face-to-face conversation.
- I brought David Palmieri back on the podcast to discuss diocesan policies about human sexuality. Palmieri has done the homework to discover origins of different policies and find out how they are related to each other. We discuss the different types of policies, their origins, and their implications
- I spoke with Rob Birdsell of Amerigo Education & Catholic Virtual. It's a wide-ranging discussion about Catholic education and innovation
- I spoke with William Daily, the longtime principal of St. Mary Magdalene School in San Antonio which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade.
- Conversation with Christine Healey. The Healey Foundation has been in incredible partner with the Diocese of Buffalo and Christine describes the new direction for the foundation.
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
My Last 5 Books
Born to Win: Find Your Success (2017) by Zig Ziglar.
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (2013) by A.G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin
The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila.
White Too Long : The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (2020) by Robert P. Jones
The Art of Learning ( 2007) by Josh Waitkin
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
Past Issues of Catholic School Matters
A few years ago I set out to write a book which would explore the challenges of Catholic school leadership. My premise that there are no easy answers and that we have to learn from our (and other's) mistakes in order to form a mindset appropriate for orchestrating conflict proved prescient as we all faced completely new and unexpected challenges in 2020. The book,Orchestrating Conflict: Case Studies in Catholic Leadership is now available on Amazon or on the Barnes & Noble site in print or e-book formats. The book explores issues in Catholic school leadership and the tensions between building community and following Church policies and introduces deliberate practice as a method for leadership formation. Most recently, I have completed a new book proposal so book #2 is underway!