Catholic School Matters
May 17, 2021
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
This prayer has been swimming in my head this past year as we continue to confront new challenges and things seem to be ever-changing. How to figure out what we can influence and impact is the question of the moment.
From my vantage point, it looks like we are coming out of the pandemic as rapidly as we went into it! So now is the time to start transitioning our parents and students back toward our normal. As we rely on strong Catholic communities to support our schools, I have a few recommendations for your summer.
Many of our parents have been disconnected from the school. Unable to volunteer, unable to cheer at games or attend many normal events, these parents have grown accustomed to life without Catholic school parenting. Other parents have joined us this year and don’t know any different.
We need to intentionally rebuild our parent support. We should be reaching out to parents now asking for volunteers for work parties. A summer barbeque for families should be planned. Before this non-involved reality becomes normal, we need to emphasize how much we need parental involvement. And we need to do it now! Many of our schools have seen increases in new students. You need to recruit those parents to come back and show them that strong parental involvement is part of your school’s strength.
We’ve also lost many students. Do you have a plan to reach out and invite them back? Sometimes we need to put aside our pride (and our hurt feelings) and reach out for the benefit of the students. Enrollment management is more than recruiting new students.
We also need to recruit our current students to come back. Summer camps, open gyms, outdoor play parties, all could go a long way to rebuilding connections. Remember, outside is okay. Asking parents to organize grade-level gatherings is worth the effort.
We’re all connected. Let’s focus on coming back together.
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Dr. Tim Uhl
Deliberate Practice Section
What I'm Up To
- Mon: Catholic Center meetings: FACTS, Faith Formation, BISON Fund & Fr. Kevin
- Tues: Visit to De Sales (Lockport) & Catholic Academy of Niagara Falls; meeting with Vicars; STREAM planning session; ND Search Committee; Catholic Academy of West Buffalo Board meeting
- Wed: Podcast with Tom Chadzutko released; Staff Meeting; Elementary Athletics meeting; Visit to Nardin Academy
- Thurs: Meeting w/ Bob Bennett, Catholic Center Leadership meeting; visit to OLV; meeting with Catholic Charities
- Fri: Mass & visit to St. John's (Alden); visit to St. Joe's & Notre Dame (Batavia); visit to St. Mary's (Lancaster)
Catholic School Links
Teaching & Learning
Catholic School Matters podcast
As the Diocese of Buffalo engages in its "Road to Renewal" which will involve parish and school reorganizations, I have engaged school leaders from other dioceses who have embarked on governance reorganizations in order to hear what has worked, what has been changed, and best practices. Two weeks ago, Lincoln Snyder from the Diocese of Sacramento joined me to discuss their regional school board model. Last week, Mr. Michael Deegan joins me to discuss the Archdiocese of New York model.
Check out the past episodes from this season:
- Michael Deegan of NYC joined me on May 12th
- Lincoln Snyder joined me May 5th
- Big Shoulders Fund with President/CEO Josh Hale
- Urban Catholic School Research with Dr. Charles Cownie, Dr. Andrew Miller, and Annie Smith
- Catholic Social Teaching with Mark Shea
- Part One, Fratelli Tutti, with Dr. Ann Garrido; Part Two, Fratelli Tutti, with Fr. Joe Corpora; Part Three, Fratelli Tutti, with Dr. Carmen Nanko-Fernández; Part Four, Fratelli Tutti, with Dr. Leonard DeLorenzo;
- Part Five, Fratelli Tutti, With Dr. Katherine Greiner
- 12 Christmas podcasts: Michael Deegan of the Archdiocese of NY, Nicole Garnett of Notre Dame law school on religious charters, Maka Black Elk on truth & healing, Dr. Jeannine Hill Fletcher on The Sin of White Supremacy, Dr Leslie Lipovski from the Diocese of Arlington & St. Isidore Virtual Catholic School, Mary Flock of the Diocese of Orange & St. Polycarp Virtual Catholic School, Bruce Davis of Catholic Virtual, Jeff Hausman of AVLI, Kyle Pietrantonio of DIA Schools, Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski of VLCFF, Frankie Jones of ACE, and Mike Derrick of San Diego Cristo Rey HS.
- Thought Leaders: Dave Stuart, Jr., George Couros, Dr. Christian Dallavis from Partnership Schools; Dr. Debbie Sullivan & FADICA reports;
- Pandemic-focused podcasts: Fr. Eric Ramirez, SJ from Regis Jesuit HS; John Galvan from the Diocese of San Diego; Elizabeth Goettl, CEO, Cristo Rey Network; Dr. Tim McNiff of Engineering Tomorrow.; Dr. Brandi Odom Lucas of Verbum Dei (Cristo Rey) HS; Jenny Oliver, the principal of St. Joe's in Auburn, CA; Br. John Montgomery, FSC, the principal of Cathedral High in Los Angeles; Leanne Geise, president of Dominican High in Wisconsin; August 19, 2020 Bea Kaleva (MT attorney) on COVID-related legal issues;
- August 12, 2020 Dr. Daryl Hagan of the Diocese of Evansville on reopening
What I'm Reading
The Last 5 Books:
- Against the Grain: The History of Buffalo's First Ward (2012) by Timothy Bohen
Buffalo at the Crossroads: The Past, Present, and Future of American Urbanism (2020) Edited by Peter Christensen
Restoring Trust in the Catholic Parish (2021) by Marijka Eeuwes Lampard
Onward: Cultivating Resilience in Educators (2018) by Elena Aguilar
A Promised Land (2020) Barack Obama
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
Past Issues of Catholic School Matters
May 10, 2021 "Wear Your Seatbelt"
May 3, 2021 "We Need Each Other"
Mar 22, 2021 "Big Shoulders Fund"
Mar 15, 2021 "Researching Urban Catholic Schools"
Mar 8, 2021 "Catholic Social Teaching"
Mar 1, 2021 "Collective Conscience"
For previous newsletters, click this link
A couple of 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.