Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

March 29, 2015

School Innovations & Good News

Last week, I met with our principals in our regional meetings. The first part of our meeting was sharing the good news happening in our schools. As a side note, I hope that the staff meetings and Advisory Council meetings also focuses on the good news happening in our classrooms.

Lauren Smith, the outstanding principal of St. Matt’s in Kalispell, shared her school’s “Holy Hoops” contest which just occurred. Every student grade 5-8 is placed on a basketball team (girls or boys, 4 on 4) on “Selection Sunday.” Teams are selected to be balanced and competitive and must contain at least student from each grade. On Sunday, there is a pep rally as students find out their teams. Each team selects a patron saint, is assigned a high school graduate as coach, and gets a colored T-shirt for jerseys.

Play begins on Monday after school in the double-elimination tournament and continues each day until the championship event on Friday night (including a three-point and slam dunk contests). Each day, plenty of families attend the games and dinner is served in the cafeteria. High school graduates return to coach the teams.

For that week, the school comes together as a community and students have fun at school. Fr. Rod Ermantiger, the pastor, brought this program to Kalispell from his former school in Chicago.

Other good news:

· Most of our schools have taken the MAPS test once. In June, we will come together to measure student progress and try to develop district-wide norms for student growth.

· Both St. Francis Elementary (Billings) and St. Labre Middle School have programs to promote positive student behavior. St. Francis calls it “Make God Smile” and St. Labre’s program is called the “Principal’s 200 Club”

· St. Francis Upper (Billings) began a science fair for all of their students

· St. Labre HS reported great success at a regional math fair and qualified one student for a national competition and their BPA club will also head to a national competition

· Sacred Heart (Miles City) is reporting enrollment growth and will split its 1st & 2nd grade classroom next year

· Billings Central HS has developed a new faculty evaluation process incorporating reflection on the characteristics of effective educators

· Many of our schools have been challenging OPI’s decision to exclude private schools from their formerly public job boards to advertise for new teachers

· St. Charles (Pryor) continues to develop its Crow Language immersion program which next year will spread to 1st grade

· Holy Spirit (Great Falls) reported a new website and the adoption of ASCEND SMS for their student management system and Math Expressions for their math textbooks

· De La Salle Blackfeet (Browning) reported that two strong candidates for their principal position and active recruitment for new teachers. They are also planning solar installations to lessen their energy costs

· Our Lady of Lourdes (Great Falls) reported a principal opening. Sherrie Schmitz is retiring after 25 years of service to OLL. She reported that 16 student qualified for the state science fair and the school was planning to compete in the Roman Catholic Challenge.

· St. Andrew School (Helena) hosted the Roman Catholic Challenge yesterday. They are also planning to host an “Ultimate Frisbee” competition for the high school and planning to purchase new playground equipment due to their successful auction

· Butte Central Schools reported strong enrollment numbers for next year, a new Spanish program for the elementary, and a profitable daycare program.

· St. Joseph’s (Missoula) reported a bathroom remodel for the summer.

· Loyola Sacred Heart (Missoula) reported a new concession complex at the football field scheduled for the summer as well as official affiliation with the Jesuit Secondary Education Association

· Missoula Catholic Schools reported new initiatives for a grievance and conflict of interest policies

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Monday: office (Helena)

Tuesday: office (Helena)

Wednesday: Billings meetings

Thursday: Great Falls meetings

Friday: holiday

This week: 600 miles

Last week: 1,314 miles

2014-15: 39,223 miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in 24 Catholic schools across the Treasure State

Notes for Principals

We currently have 3 principal openings:

  • Our Lady of Lourdes (Great Falls)
  • St. Mary's (Livingston)
  • De La Salle Blackfeet School (Browning)

If you teacher openings that you'd like advertised on the Montana Catholic Schools website, please email the openings.

Catholic Mutual has requested each school to complete a Safety Survey. Each school can earn $100 from Catholic Mutual. The deadline is April 15th so please address this immediately. The survey can also be completed at under Risk Management Info - Youth – Schools – School Safety Survey.

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