Catholic School Matters

May 17, 2021

Connecting Post-Pandemic

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

A Florida public school teacher was fired for refusing to take down her Black Lives Matter literature and her case has made it to the Supreme Court. What would you do if one of your teachers wore a BLM T-shirt? If you asked a teacher to refrain and she refused, what would you do?

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 Matters

Highlighting innovation and best practices in and for Catholic schools

Catholic School Links

Catholic Schools Closing & Opening

No new school closures were announced. This article described the final days of Notre Dame Catholic Schools in Wichita Falls, TX

Here is the curated list of Catholic schools closing at the end of the 2021 school year and new schools opening for the 2021-22 year.

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


Brené Brown: Why Your Critics Aren't The Ones Who Count

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:

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Against the Grain: The History of Buffalo's First Ward (2012) by Timothy Bohen
    2. Buffalo at the Crossroads: The Past, Present, and Future of American Urbanism (2020) Edited by Peter Christensen

    3. Restoring Trust in the Catholic Parish (2021) by Marijka Eeuwes Lampard

    4. Onward: Cultivating Resilience in Educators (2018) by Elena Aguilar

    5. A Promised Land (2020) Barack Obama

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Orchestrating Conflict

            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.