Catholic School Matters
January 31, 2023
Catholic Schools Week
We're one day into Catholic Schools Week with one principal recovering from a day of pies in the face, a recently crowned Spelling Bee champion in our first Diocesan Spelling Bee, lots of reptiles, bouncy houses, and fun for all ages. I’ll probably set foot in 18 Catholic schools during this whirlwind week and I’m sure many of you will be worn out by the end of the week. This week is a celebration for our students, allowing them a chance to experience joy. But it’s also a recruiting week as we allow prospective (and returning) families to see us at our best.
When I read this article in HBR entitled “Innovation Starts with the Heart, not the Head” I thought of our great Catholic schools. The article describes how one hospital CEO was determined to inspire every employee to bring their hearts to work and show each person how much they care about them. Every employee was challenged to make heartfelt connections with each customer and explain their “why.” This is an important reminder to us all–how well are we communicating our care for our students? Fellow employees? Take a minute to read the article and see if it doesn’t improve your outlook.
Big news in the world of school choice. Iowa has just passed one of the most important pieces of school choice legislation, giving each student an ESA account that will follow him/her to the school of their choice. It’s very similar to legislation in Arizona and comes on the heels of the promising religious charter opinion in Oklahoma. Better days are ahead!
There are some exciting events coming up. This Saturday, we’re going to hold our first Diocesan Chess Championship. Thanks to St. Joe’s for hosting us! On the heels of the new bowling and kickball activities, as well as math and spelling competitions, it’s another sign of the vitality of our Catholic schools. On February 11th, we’re hosting a 7th & 8th grade dance which is going to be only group dances. Check out the set list here with instructional videos, too. We’re looking ahead to an 8th grade retreat in April, too, as well as another kickball tournament, bowling league, and robotics competition–not to mention our regularly scheduled X-STREAM games, boys volleyball, girls softball, and track meets.
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
For the Win
Principal Ted Luckett of St. Gregory the Great putts in their in-school mini-golf course
All 40 participants onstage at Mt. St. Mary HS. The winner, a 7th grader from Notre Dame Academy, took home the largest trophy every produced after 2 grueling hours
Fighting to the finish at Nativity BVM school.
For the Win
Kari Buchinger on Academics
Happy Catholic Schools Week! This week is bound to be filled with fun, games, and a whole lot of excitement. But this also tends to be the time of year when our Catholic Schools begin registration for the upcoming school year. We once again get to share what is so special about our schools. They truly are communities where all are welcome, bringing us to our February character trait: inclusion!
What does it mean to demonstrate inclusion? Well, simple- it means you do your best to honor each individual in your community, school, or classroom and make sure they don’t feel left out. Teachers, are you looking for simple ways to teach your students about inclusion? Perhaps you could…
Teach students how to look out for others. Students can learn how to scan the school environment and look for someone that may be alone or in need of a friend. Helping students practice introducing themselves to others and striking up a conversation can help them become includers!
Teach friendly invitations. When students see someone that is alone, they could say,
Come join us! There’s lots of room.
Do you want to sit with us at lunch?
Do you like football? Come join our team!
Do you want to play tag?
We always need extra players; play with us!
Provide opportunities for connection. Do you see the same students in your classroom together during partner work? Free playtime? Specials classes? Mix it up a bit and help facilitate different pairs or groups throughout the day. Your students may have a best friend waiting in class they just haven’t spent time with yet.
Resources for Teachers:
- Teach Kids About Inclusion
- The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates
- All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
- Ben’s Adventures by Elizabeth Gerlach
- The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Nominate your January Character Award Winner Here!
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
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. Here is the set list of group dances and instructional videos which you can distribute to your teachers (especially your PE teachers).
Survey link for elementary principals re: possible 8th grade retreat.
Survey link for high school presidents & principals.
Survey link for accreditation questions.
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
2/6/23 Last Day to Submit Buffalo Public Schools Textbook Requisitions
2/20/23 HS Scholarships for Academic Excellence (SAE) Nominations Due
3/17/23 Last Day to Submit Erie 1 BOCES Textbook Requisitions
3/24/23 Save Mandated Services Claim online for C. Riso Review
3/31/23 NYSED Nonpublic Safety Equipment (NPSE) Claims Due
4/15/23 NYSED Elementary School AIS Claims Due
NYSED Year 6 Elementary AIS Forms Available: Last Tuesday NYSED released the Year 6 AIS applications on their website here. I was hoping the Year 9 Non Public Safety Equipment (NPSE) Reimbursement forms would be released by today so I could give you an update on both programs at the same time, but they have not. Later this week I will send each school an email about your available AIS Funding with some advice; as soon as the NPSE forms are available I will send similar information out about that program. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the AIS program please email SORIS@nysed.gov.
NYSED Immunization Monitoring Concerns: Christina Coughlin from NYSED just notified our Catholic School leadership that there has been an issue with some schools’ compliance with immunization tracking and, when children are too far behind with immunizations, exclusion from school in both public and nonpublic schools. They believe there may be data problems on their end that they are going to be looking into. A major concern is that there might be bad email addresses on file. They will be working to identify which schools have not submitted immunization information and then may ask for my assistance reaching out to those schools. This is a situation that is evolving so I will be sure to reach out to any affected schools once that information is shared with me. If you wish to review your school’s email addresses, please go to the SEDREF Query webpage and search for your school; once you are on your school’s page scroll down to “Administrative Positions” and click on each person listed to see what email addresses are on file with NYSED. Contact me if you have any questions about this.
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
- Basketball playoff brackets can be found on the blog. Please see the athletics/activities blog for the most up to date information
- Brian Ferris is our new Diocesan athletics director. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Save the Date!
- Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
- All-diocesan 7th & 8th grade dance, Feb 11th, Nardin Academy.
- Meeting with Catholic high school principals/presidents March 8th.
- Principal Meeting, March 9th.
- 8th grade retreat April 21st or 28th.
- Diocesan Awards Ceremony May TBA
- Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.
- School Visit Form, spring 2023.
- Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
- The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
- School Pastor's Administrative Guide
- "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
- New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
- New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
- Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form
Articles for Your Reflection
Jubilant Kim Reynolds signs Iowa's seismic 'school choice' bill into law. What it means:
Rigid definitions of 'Catholic' leave too many out in the cold
Cardinal McElroy on 'radical inclusion' for L.G.B.T. people, women and others in the Catholic Church
Innovation Starts with the Heart, Not the Head
The Lifecycle of Uncomfortable Tech
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is underway with a conversation with Dylan Corbett, the Executive Director of the Hope Border Institute. He discusses the current situation on the border and their great work. Previous episodes:
- a unique episode with two co-authors of a new book on Irish Catholic schools. Dr. Sean McGraw and Johnny Tiernan join me to discuss their collaboration, the changes to Irish Catholic schools, and many other topics
- a great conversation with Dave Mason, the president of Tuscon's San Miguel Cristo Rey School
- a conversation with Fr. James Martin, SJ. We discuss leadership amid criticism and staying on mission.
- 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
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
My Last 5 Books
- Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012) by Laurent Dubois.
The Politics of Irish Primary Education: Reform in an Era of Secularisation (2022) by Sean McGraw & Jonathan Tiernan
Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell (2019) by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg & Alan Eagle
Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty (2014) by Daniel Schulman
Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story (2022) by Bono
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
Past Issues of Catholic School Matters
Jan 24, 2023 "Accreditation"
Jan 17, 2023 "AI Blog!"
Jan 10, 2023 "January Updates"
Dec 13, 2022 "Dreaming"
Dec 6, 2022 "Focus & Retention"
Nov 29, 2022 "4 Lessons from the Pandemic"
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.