Catholic School Matters

October 19, 2020

The Cleveland Partnership

In 2019, five years after Partnership Schools created an innovative network of six Catholic elementary schools in New York, the opportunity to expand emerged. The Partnership serves as a school management organization, working in partnership with dioceses and archdioceses to run effective inner-city Catholic schools. Of all the consortium models that have sprouted up in Catholic education, it is perhaps the most successful. Here is an overview of their model.

First, at the request of the Archdiocese, the Partnership added another NYC Catholic school and then, in an unexpected move, it turned its focus to Cleveland. Here is the announcement from earlier this year describing how two Catholic schools in Cleveland would be taken over by Partnership. But the story is much deeper, captured here in this profile of Rich Clark, former head of St. Ignatius Prep and founding president (in 2003) of Martin de Porres Cristo Rey HS, both Cleveland institutions.

Watch this video to hear how the principals of those two struggling Catholic schools reacted to the change. This innovation couldn’t have happened without the support of Dr. Frank O’Linn, the superintendent of Catholic schools. I called Frank last week and recorded a short video convo on YouTube. Watch our (extremely amateurish) short video conversation here.

Partnership was able to attract Dr. Christian Dallavis from ACE to help support the work, which he captures here. Dallavis has been a strong proponent of culture reform in Catholic schools. He has helped the two Cleveland schools identify their root beliefs, and he reflects on five beliefs that have animated the network’s efforts to increase enrollment in Cleveland:

1. Jesus calls us each by name

2. Excellence happens on purpose

3. We are made for greatness

4. We are better together

5. We can do hard things

Remote, hybrid, or in person, these root beliefs are simply fantastic. They capture the essence of Catholic schools and are inspiring.

These beliefs underscore Dallavis’s belief that we are what we do, which he says was inspired by Sr. Helen Prejean. We discuss his take on school culture and the remarkable transformations St. Thomas Aquinas and Archbishop Lyke are making in this week’s Catholic School Matters podcast which will drop on Wednesday.

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Dr. Tim Uhl

Cleveland Articles

Nancy and Rachael - Cleveland Launch Celebration
Our Neighbors - Cleveland Launch Celebration

Catholic Schools

Catholic Schools Closing

St. Jose Sanchez del Rio Catholic School in San Antonio will permanently close on Friday, October 30th, due to declining enrollment and financial challenges.
Nuestras Escuelas: The Legacy and Future of Catholic Schools


Teaching & Learning


The National Catholic Academic Junior High Decathlon, overseen by the CA Catholic School Superintendents' Curriculum Committee, is welcoming Catholic schools across the nation (grades 6-8) to participate in our annual decathlon! With so many activities put on hold this year, this is a great opportunity for our students to challenge themselves academically while they participate in independent and team events that culminate in a national competition. Join us this year! #CatholicAJHD #AcademicExcellence

Catholic School Matters podcast

Wednesday on the Catholic School Matters podcast marks a great conversation between Dr. Christian Dallavis, the Assistant Superintendent of Partnership Schools. We discuss the expansion of the network into Cleveland and his beliefs on building effective school culture. Last week, I released a great conversation with Fr. Eric Ramirez, SJ, the boys pastoral director of Regis Jesuit HS in Colorado. We discuss how campus ministry has changed (who had ever imagined a socially distanced Kairos, for example?) the needs of the students are still present.

Check out the past episodes from this season:

What I'm Reading

    The Last 5 Books:

    1. Caste: The Origins of our Discontents (2020) by Isabel Wilkerson
    2. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix (2017) by Edwin H. Friedman
    3. 101 Questions & Answers on Catholic Social Teaching, 2nd ed. (2013) by Kenneth R. Himes.
    4. Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism (2020) by Anne Applebaum.
    5. The Practice of Adaptive Leadership (2009) by Ron Heifetz & Marty Linsky

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            Oct 5, 2020 "Governance Reform"

            Sep 28, 2020 "Autonomy & Radar"

            Sep 21, 2020 "Learning While Doing"

            Sep 14, 2020 "Connecting the Disconnected"

            Aug 31, 2020 "Racial Injustice"

            Aug 24, 2020 "Figuring it Out"

            Aug 17, 2020 Serenity Prayer

            May 24, 2020 Value Proposition During Uncertain Times

            For previous newsletters, click this link

            Orchestrating Conflict

            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. This is my first book and has been an ongoing project for the past couple of years.