Catholic School Matters

January 10, 2023

January Updates

Cardinal O’Hara High School has created a life skills program for high school aged students with Down syndrome and other intellectual disabilities and is looking to spread the word to recruit for this program. The program will feature a 12:1:1 ratio, all related services, a certified special ed teacher, unified sports and unified chorus, and socialization as part of a comprehensive coed Catholic high school.

We should all celebrate this innovation and spread the word so O’Hara can build this program. This is a unique opportunity to increase inclusion in Catholic education. As the word spreads that all students are welcome, more doors should open for all of our Catholic schools.

Here is the announcement that you can share with your community. There might be friends or relatives of your school families that might be interested in this program so your help in spreading the word is appreciated. Kudos to Cardinal O’Hara!

Catholic Schools Week is right around the corner. This year, the Catholic Education Luncheon is taking place on Thursday, January 26th before the week itself. I hope you’re planning to attend to show our appreciation to the Foundation for its support of Catholic schools as well as helping to honor our Distinguished Principal, Karen Rahill, Distinguished Pastor, Fr. Jim Ciupek, and the Making a Difference Award winner, Vicky Petricca. Bishop Fisher is going to kick off the week with Mass on Sunday at a parish, Nativity of Our Lord. We will travel to OLV for Mass on Monday morning along with a visit to Notre Dame Academy. Tuesday’s travels will include Mass at St. John Vianney and a visit to Mt. Mercy HS. Wednesday will include visits to Catholic Academy of West Buffalo and St. Joseph University. On Thursday, we’ll travel to St. Stephen’s for Mass and a tour. When the week is complete, Bishop Fisher will have traveled to all Diocesan elementary and Catholic high schools in his first two years.

Most of our schools are conducting their school spelling bees in preparation for the Diocesan Spelling Bee on Monday, January 30th. The end of Catholic Schools Week (Saturday, Feb 4th) is the Diocesan Chess Tournament. There is still room for more schools to send chess competitors. When we add the Diocesan 7th & 8th grade dance on February 11th, it becomes clear that we are opening up more opportunities for students to compete and enjoy their Catholic schools.

Our Value Proposition to parents must include a community and activities-rich environment where students can come alive. It must also include reassurances that we’re offering a top-quality education. To that end, we’ll be discussing accreditation options this Thursday at the Principal’s meeting. Like the STAR test, we need to give parents concrete data that our schools are excellent and providing an excellent opportunity for their children.

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," subscribe to the Catholic Schools Daily, or subscribe to the Catholic School Matters podcast.

Dr. Tim Uhl

Kari Buchinger on Academics

December Character Award Winners

It is time to celebrate our December Character Award winners! Please take a moment to complete this google form to recognize one student from your school who best demonstrates appreciation.

January Value

The road to accomplishing good things is often a challenging one. Those who choose to face that challenge to reach success have a key characteristic we all need- determination. Determination may appear on the basketball court, while completing a science experiment, or when tackling a difficult word in a text. How can you help your students strengthen their determination? Consider trying the following:

  1. Praise effort more than accomplishments: Children want to continue actions that are positively reinforced. If they are praised during the process of accomplishing something, they will learn the benefit of hard work, effort, and practice, not just the outcome.

  2. Give specific praise: Avoid “good job” or “good try”; instead, be specific. “You worked so hard to learn your multiplication facts. Practicing with flashcards every night was a great tool.”

  3. Don’t underestimate your students: Let them have a chance to accomplish something, even if it takes them a bit longer, especially when trying something new. Avoid taking over and doing it for them.

  4. Let them fail: Let your students make mistakes. After they have, talk to them about it. Praise their effort and discuss what they could do differently next time.

  5. Talk about things you work hard at: Share a time when you had to exercise determination to accomplish something. Modeling mistakes made, problem solving, and outcomes achieved. This can help fuel your students’ thought processes when faced with a new challenge.

Resources for Teachers

Read Alouds:

  • Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones
  • Emmanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson
  • After the Fall by Dan Santat
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
  • Today I Will Fly! By Mo Willems
  • Gritty Kitty by Dr. John Hutton
  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba
  • An Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo
  • Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Spelling Bee

Don’t forget to register your top 3 students for the Diocesan Spelling Bee as soon as possible.

We will send out further resources (study list and parent letter) for the final as soon as your students are registered for the final.

7th and 8th Grade Dance at Nardin Academy

Join us on Saturday, February 11 in the Nardin Academy gym from 7-9 pm for a special dance for all 7th and 8th graders enrolled in our Diocese of Buffalo Catholic Schools. Tickets are $5 and the dress code is semi-formal. A follow up email including ticket information and a flyer to share with your school community will be sent via email to principals tomorrow. We kindly ask that each school provides at least one chaperone for the evening of the dance.

STREAM Updates

The Anchor Church Project final video submissions are due by midnight on Friday 13th January. Please submit your video to All videos and other supporting materials will be posted on the Anchor Church Website. Results will be announced during Catholic Schools Week.

Computer Based Testing Resources

This year our schools are transitioning to computer based testing. The New York State Assessment website has a plethora of resources to support your teachers and students as you make this transition. I’ve included some key resources below.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

  1. Here is the link to enter your scheduled open house(s).

  2. The BISON Fund pre-application for new and current families not on BISON for the 2023-24 school year will open up on January 15th. To start the process, families can complete a pre-application form online here. The deadline is March 15th. Scholarships are awarded using a lottery system from all submitted pre-applications forms and all applicants will be notified of lottery results via email on March 16th. Current families do not need to fill out a pre-application, they will be emailed a link to complete the renewal process and add siblings on February 21st.

  3. The Foundation is selling raffle tickets for a chance to win some pretty incredible prizes! The raffle winners will be announced at the Luncheon Event on January 26, 2023. Winners do not need to be present to win! Please see the attached flier or go here for more information!

  4. Here is the link for the Office Blog with the latest forms and information. This can be found on the website under "Blogs.

Chris Riso on Government Services

Mandated Services – Online System Still Not Open: The online system is still not open for 2021-22 Mandated Services claims but there is a chance that it will open soon. I will notify you as soon as I am given a better idea of when it should open for new 2021-22 claims. In the meantime, I would be happy to look over your Excel spreadsheet if you have completed it. My biggest concerns are the salaries, benefits, and number of student attendance days you are claiming and how you arrived at those numbers because NYSED has been demanding proof of how you arrived at those numbers during audits (official payroll and benefits reports). If you want me to look your spreadsheet over, please also share the school calendar E-School/Student Management System report you used to calculate the number of student days, being sure to remove any snow days; I can also look over your payroll and benefits reports if you are not sure what amounts to claim. Please email me if you would like my assistance with this process or to request a review. If your spreadsheet looks good and matches your supporting documentation, you can use this information to complete “Form 2” to prepare for your online submission.

Change to NYS Job Posting Requirements: The Diocese of Buffalo HR Department reminded me that Governor Kathy Hochul signed a NYS pay transparency bill into law on December 21, 2022. Beginning in September 2023, it will be mandatory to include a salary amount or range for all jobs postings. Please see below:

  • “Similar to other pay transparency laws, Labor Law § 194-b requires employers to disclose an amount or a range of compensation for any open job, promotion or transfer opportunity that can or will be performed, at least in part, in New York State. The law defines “range of compensation” as “the minimum and maximum annual salary or hourly range of compensation . . . that the employer in good faith believes to be accurate at the time of the posting of an advertisement” for the job, promotion or transfer opportunity. Advertisements for jobs, promotions or transfer opportunities that are paid solely on commission must disclose that in writing. Additionally, the law requires employers to post a job description if one exists.”

It has been a popular option to put “commensurate upon experience/education” for the salary information, but that will no longer be allowed. Any posting that does not have salary information on September 16, 2023 will be removed from Diocesan and Department websites as the law goes into effect September 17, 2023. The Diocesan HR Department advises all of us that it would be best to get in the habit of providing this information now for all job postings.

Textbook Orders: Buffalo Public Requisitions Due 2/6; Erie 1 BOCES Orders due 3/17 -

Erie 1 BOCES has asked that all textbook funds be used by 3/17/23. Please check to see if any funds remain and then place orders by 3/17/23. Also, please remember that the Buffalo Public Schools will only make requisitions for requests received through 2/6/23. Please make sure you use up all available BPS textbook, computer hardware, computer software, and library funds by that date.

10-Year Elementary Enrollment Report Available to Principals upon Request: Our Department created a 10-Year Elementary Enrollment Report which shows total elementary enrollment for the Diocese, broken down by grade and separated into boys and girls. If any Diocese of Buffalo Elementary School Principal is interested in seeing this report, please email Laurie Wojtaszczyk at

Graduate Courses available for Free through University at Buffalo (UB) and SUNY Empire: As an eligible nonpublic school teacher or leader, you can take select online courses through UB’s Graduate programs for free.

Questions? Contact the Office of Graduate Admission at or 716-645-2110.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

  • Brian Ferris is our new Diocesan athletics director. He can be reached at
  • It's not too early to begin thinking about the Diocesan Chess Championship. Chess tournament signup
  • Bowling will be back for the Spring! Here is a link for Athletic Directors/PE Teachers to use to sign up your students with the Diocese. Dates are March 7-April 25 with no bowling April 4 & 11 due to Easter breaks. League championships will be Sat. April 29th at 10am at Classic Lanes.
  • CLICK HERE for the Basketball Master Schedule 2022-2023 This schedule is located on and you will need to request access to view it. It has all of the Diocesan Elementary League games on it. It will show you the date and time of the game, where it is being held, which school is the home team and which school is the away team.

Please see the athletics/activities blog for the most up to date information.

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
  2. Diocesan principal meeting, Jan 12th, 2022 at St. Andrew's. This meeting will be sponsored by Catholic Virtual. RSVP here. Agenda will be posted here (when ready).
  3. STREAM coordinators meeting, Jan 25th.
  4. All-diocesan 7th & 8th grade dance, Feb 11th, Nardin Academy.
  5. Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.


  1. School Visit Form, spring 2023.
  2. Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
  3. The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  4. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  5. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  6. New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
  7. New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
  8. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is underway with a conversation with Fr. James Martin, SJ. We discuss leadership amid criticism and staying on mission. Previous episodes:

  • A great conversation with Dr. Hosffman Ospino and Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach. These two Boston College professors discuss their "Cultivating Talent" report and summit
  • A conversation with Deacon Kevin McCormack, the new superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn. McCormack shares his vision for Catholic education and the reasons he gave up a successful principalship to become a superintendent
  • After a short break, the podcast is back with two recent conversations with Dr. Thomas Groome of Boston College. The first conversation centers on religious education and evangelization. The second conversation is centered on Catholic schools and his recent publication, What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations. Other recent episodes:
  • Dr. Kevin Baxter, the co-editor of Conscience & Catholic Education and the keynote for thisf all's Diocesan Education Summit. We discuss the book and how it pertains to current issues in Catholic education. Here is the direct link to the podcast episode.
  • I spoke to Shaka Rawls, the principal of Leo Catholic HS on Chicago's Southside. He is a dynamic leader of this predominantly African-American Catholic high school who describes the mission of the school as one which serves the community. Here is a direct link to the podcast.
  • I talk with Greg Richmond, the Superintendent of the Archdiocese of Chicago. In his second year, Greg comes from the charter world and shares his unique perspective on this new position which he loves.
  • This week's podcast gives us a chance to hear the perspective of a person fired from her position at a Catholic high school due to same-sex marriage.
  • Season 7 kicked off with a great conversation with Rich Clark of Cleveland. He helped found a Cristo Rey High School and played a pivotal role in Partnership School's Expansion to Cleveland. Our interview was recorded on September 2nd and Rich passed away on September 20th.

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Phone: 716-847-5520
Twitter: @WNYCatholicEd

My Last 5 Books

  1. Jesus' Alternative Plan: The Sermon on the Mount (2022) by Richard Rohr
  2. The Prepared Leader: Emerge from any Crisis More Resilient than Before (2022) by Erika James & Lynn Perry Wooten

  3. Faith For the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality (2019) by Thomas Groome.

  4. Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012) by Laurent Dubois.

  5. The Politics of Irish Primary Education: Reform in an Era of Secularisation (2022) by Sean McGraw & Jonathan Tiernan

          Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

          Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

          Dec 13, 2022 "Dreaming"

          Dec 6, 2022 "Focus & Retention"

          Nov 29, 2022 "4 Lessons from the Pandemic"

          Nov 15, 2022 "Resources"

          Nov 8, 2022 "Summiting"

          For previous newsletters, click this link

          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.