Catholic School Matters

May 7, 2017

Commencing Graduation

Graduation season is upon us. As we reflect on what commencement means for our students, it’s important to recognize that many schools have defined their student outcomes and designed their programs to respond to these expectations. For example, the Jesuit schools have articulated their “Graduate at Graduation” which celebrates the following characteristics:

· Open to Growth

· Intellectually Competent

· Religious

· Loving

· Committed to Doing Justice

Jesuit schools across the country have adopted these characteristics and they have impacted their schools. As these characteristics were implemented, new types of conversations occurred and the design of new programs were designed.

The Jesuit efforts have inspired other schools such as Lumen Christi, Our Lady of the Lake, and even new schools such as Frassati in Spring, Texas. It has inspired accreditation efforts to define Integrated Student Outcomes, Expected Schoolwide Learning Results, and Schoolwide Learning Expectations. It has even inspired public school districts to define learning outcomes.

This effort to define our expectations and outcomes at graduation, rooted in backward design, allows us to measure our success. I’m not arguing for a quantitative measure or paper-or-pencil tests. I am suggesting, however, that we should spend time reflecting on whether we are successful in producing what we hope to produce. Do our students match our expectations? Or do they exceed?

If you’re looking for inspiration, here are some great commencement resources:

· Jim & Jeanne Gaffigan’s Catholic U commencement speech

· NPR’s greatest commencement speeches, ever

· Huff Post’s How to Give a Great Commencement Speech

· NPR’s Anatomy of a Great Commencement Speech

· How To Write a Graduation Speech

· This is How We Say Goodbye by Maria Popova

· Dear Graduates from Kid President

· Baz Luhrmann’s Sunscreen speech & video

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

This week, there are two very personal podcasts. I've reached out to a couple of old friends who are doing admirable work. Episode #48 is an interview with Fr. Roc O'Connor, a Jesuit pastor in Milwaukee. Roc was one of the "St. Louis Jesuits" and is a noted liturgist and composer. Episode #49 is an interview with John Bland, the Catholic founder of the Amigos for Christ, a charity involved with improving lives in Nicaragua.

Last week there were two great podcasts. Episode #46 is an interview with the "Fundraising Coach," Marc Pitman, who discusses the lessons he has learned from nonprofit leadership and fundraising. Episode #47 is an interview with Dr. Mike St. Pierre, the former Catholic high school president and current Executive Director of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. Both guests have hosted their own podcasts and have a plethora of leadership insights

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

I have finished taping Season One except for the final episode. For that episode, I'd like to answer questions from listeners. Please use this form to send me questions. If you have nominations or ideas for Season Two, send them via email.

Last week, Dr. Uhl blogged about:

  • TUESDAY: Marc Pitman's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman
  • FRIDAY: Dr Mike St. Pierre's podcast

This week, Dr. Uhl will blog about:

  • TUESDAY: Roc O'Connor's podcast
  • WEDNESDAY: Book Blog: Beyond Reform
  • FRIDAY: John Bland's podcast

You can find and subscribe to the blog at

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena)

Tuesday: office (Helena)

Wed: Helena & Butte meetings

Thurs: office (Helena)

Fri: Missoula meetings

Next week: 385 miles

Last week:276 driving miles; 2,340 air miles

2016-17: 30,097 driving miles; 35,077 air miles

What I'm Reading (Last 5 books)

  1. The Circle by Dave Eggers (underway)
  2. Leverage Leadership by Paul Bambrick-Santoyo
  3. At the Heart of the Church: Selected Documents of Catholic Education Ed. by Ronald J. Nuzzi & Thomas C Hunt
  4. Catholic Schools and the Common Good by Anthony Bryk, Valerie Lee & Peter Holland
  5. Traction by Gino Wickman

Click this link for a full list of Dr. Uhl's professional reading along with links to Wed Book Blogs

For Principals & Teachers

  1. We are in need of teachers to offer breakout sessions for our Catholic Teacher Days (Oct 19-20). So far, 7 teachers have offered to teach. Email Dr. Uhl ASAP!
  2. Here is the flyer for the Sophia Institute's religion teacher workshop on October 19th. Here is the flyer for the August Retreat. Please print out and share!
  3. NWEA is offering a great webinar on end of the year summary reports. Here's the sign up for the May 15th event.
  4. NCEA has a great list of upcoming webinars. It also has compiled a list of great summer 2017 professional development opportunities.
  5. The Justice for Immigration project of the USCCB offers resources for undocumented immigrants.
  6. Are you ready for ESSA? Here is a link to a massive amount of new documents. ESSA has not been repealed and it's time to get ready! Here's more guidance from the USCCB.
  7. On the Horizon:
  • June 14: administrator meeting (Helena/Cathedral) 10-3
  • August 14-15: Catholic Schools Retreat
  • Oct 19: Sophia Program for Religion Teachers
  • Oct 19-20: Catholic Teacher Days

American Catholic News

Want to read a great fundraising speech? President Mike Rogers of Risen Christ delivered this speech at his gala. It's part history, party appeal, and all interesting!

Catholic Schools Opening, Closing, Consolidating

  1. Two more Catholic schools to close in St. Louis.
  2. Consolidation efforts in Pittsburth to result in layoffs.
  3. El Paso elementary school to close
  4. Kenosha (WI) regionalization model studied.
  5. Location chosen for new Arkansas high school.
  6. New South Carolina high school to open this fall.

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


Can you solve the pirate riddle? - Alex Gendler