Catholic School Matters

January 28, 2018

Turnaround Catholic Schools

Last week, we were greeted with the dispiriting news that the Jubilee Network Schools in Memphis was disbanding and closing the doors of its 9 inner-city schools. Catholic schools will now have 1,500 less students. Instead of dwelling on this news, it’s time to focus our attention on schools which have bucked the national trend and turned around their fortunes.

To celebrate Catholic Schools Week, I’m offering five podcasts this week revealing the stories of Catholic Turnaround Schools. I asked superintendents last summer to nominate schools who were on the chopping block 5-10 years ago but have overcome the odds to rebuild their sustainability. They are now on much firmer foundation for a variety of reasons.

On Monday, January 29th, I’ll talk to the principal and a major donor from Holy Rosary Regional School-Juan Diego Academy in Tacoma. Seven years ago, the enrollment had dipped below 80 students in K-8. The school decided to embark on a transformative project to establish a Two-Way Immersion school. The enrollment is now 215 and climbing!

On Tuesday, I’ll talk to Jason Garza, the principal of St. Helen’s School in Fresno. The Diocese of Fresno announced that the school would close in the spring of 2017. Through hard work and constant fundraising, the school was able to raise over $400,000 to keep the school open.

On Wednesday, I’ll talk to Carrie Donahue, the principal of Presentation of Our Lady School in Sacramento. The school secured the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and transformed their Catholic Identity. This transformation has led to increased enrollment and changed its fortunes.

On Thursday, I’ll talk to Martin Flaherty, the principal of Holy Family Catholic School in Des Moines. This inner-city school is filled with immigrants and first-generation Americans. Through a concerted fund-raising effort, the school secures a brighter future for its students.

On Friday, I’ll talk to Mike Domico, the principal of St. Edward’s Catholic School in Chillicothe, Illinois. The Diocese announced that the school would close due to low enrollment a failing physical plant. Domico was able to lead an impromptu fundraising effort in a very short time to reopen the school in very short order.

Enjoy the stories of the good news happening in Catholic schools. Below are relevant links to the great stories airing on the podcast.

Link to Holy Rosary Regional School-Juan Diego Academy’s website. Link to the Two-Way Immersion for Catholic Schools website.

· History of Holy Rosary parish

· Article covering the removal of pavement at the school to make way for green space

· February 2013 article covering the transformation of the school

Link to St. Helen’s (Fresno) website

· Article announcing St. Helen’s closing in March of 2017 and a video story

· GoFundMe site raising money for the school

· Article/video announcing the re-opening of the school in August 2017

Link to Presentation’s (Sacramento) website. Link to the story of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.

Link to Holy Family School (Des Moines).

· Great story about how tax credits benefit Holy Family’s students—especially immigrants from South Sudan.

· Heartbreaking story about the death of one of Holy Family’s parents last year which illustrates the community and how the school is a gateway to the American dream.

Link to St. Edward’s (Chillicothe, IL) website

· Article announcing the closure of St. Edward’s in July 2016

· Article announcing the re-opening of school in new location in August 2016

· Article/video announcing the reopening of St. Edward’s in January 2017

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

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What I'm Up To

Last week, the Church Documents podcast series wrapped up. Here is the landing page for Church Documents resources and the podcasts which can serve as a PLC. Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Here are videos showing you how to download and subscribe to a podcast on iTunes and how to download and subscribe a podcast on Android.

This week, I'm presenting five new episodes on Catholic Turnaround Schools (see blog above).

If you are a Catholic school principal, can you take this survey?

Here's what I'm working on this week:

Miles this week: 616 driving miles

Miles travelled in 2017-18: 16,297 road miles; 23,235 air miles

American Catholic News

Catholic School News

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning




  • FACTS Day of Giving January 30th
  • VIsions for Excellence Soul of Youth Sports Conference Feb 21-23
  • Convention, April 3-5 Cincinnati


  • Feb 1: Digital Bullying: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know
  • Feb 6: Unlocking Student Talent
  • Feb 7: STEM

What I'm Reading

  1. Transforming School Culture: How to Overcome Staff Division by Anthony Muhammad
  2. Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church (2017) by Chris Lowney
  3. Leadership on the Line Ronald Heifetz & Marty LInsky (1989) by Carl E. Larson & Frank M. J. LaFasto
  4. Building a Bridge (2017) by James Martin, SJ.
  5. Creativity, Inc. (2014) by Ed Catmull

Click this link for a full list of my professional reading along with links to Wed Book Blogs

For Montana Administrators & Teachers

  • OPI is offering a webinar Tuesday morning at 8:30 am to explain the 21st Century learning grants. The program has been expanded under ESSA. Call 786-535-3211 or login to Access code is 800-629-165
  • Here is the slideshow from the Jan 9th Admin Virtual meetings. Next meeting is February 6th
  • Stillwater Christian has extended an invitation to their Feb 26th Googlefest. Here is the link to the registration form

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

January 21, 2018 "Synthesizing Church Documents"

January 14, 2018 "What's Brewing in Milwaukee"

January 7, 2018 The 411 on 529's

December 17, 2017 Best of the Fall Issue

December 10, 2017 Serving Hispanic Catholics

December 3, 2017 Building Culture the ND Way

November 12, 2017 "How Are We Building Relationships?"

November 5, 2017 "Journal of Catholic Education"

October 29, 2017 Church Documents

October 22, 2017 Momentum Special Issue

October 15, 2017 "Anthem Protests"

October 8, 2017 Classroom Managment Special Issue

October 1, 2017 "The Un-Themed Issue"

September 24, 2017 "Joy of the Gospel"

September 17, 2017 "ESSA"

September 10, 2017 "On Leadership"

August 27, 2017 "American Catholic News"

August 20, 2017 Back to School Issue