Catholic School Matters
March 1, 2022
Connecting the Disconnected
As we all prepare for the end of the statewide mask mandate tomorrow, we’re entering a new phase of the pandemic. The cracks that widened in our society aren't going away anytime soon. We risk dividing ourselves among the masked/unmasked, the vaccinated/unvaccinated, boosted/unboosted, etc. As we begin to venture out unmasked and plan for our school days without masks, it’s important to recognize that our students, our teachers, our parents—all are coming out of this pandemic with a sense of disconnection.
Lent seems to be coming at a perfect time during this disorientation. It’s time to refocus. Here’s a video to get you started.
We’ve invited all pastors and canonical administrators to join principals on March 10th. We’re focusing on Catholic Identity. Here’s a copy of the agenda. Bishop Fisher is going to lead us off with a testimony of his experience as a school pastor and his vision for how the pastor-principal partnership can lead to increased evangelization of our Catholic school families. After the pastors depart around lunchtime, the principals will stay to discuss charism and rituals to promote Catholic identity.
The focus of our time is on evangelization and the opportunities we have coming out of the pandemic. Many of our families have gotten out of the habit of attending Sunday Mass. We need to find ways to invite them back and integrate our Catholic school families into parish life. But our aim is not simply to improve Sunday Mass attendance and weekly contributions. It’s to meet the moment. And what’s unique about this moment? We have all been disconnected from each other and we’re all looking for ways to connect with our neighbors, coworkers, parishioners, friends, and families. The loose and strong ties of parish and school communities can go a long way toward meeting the need to reconnect.
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
Principals - Please fill out this questionnaire about renewing Mystery Science at your school. Any schools interested in the School Seedling - Planting for Knowledge program through NYS go to this website for more information and to apply.
Are you interested in having Bishop Fisher or a member of the DCS staff join your for graduation activites? Please fill out this survey for planning purposes.
The January 25th COVID mitigation memo suggests ways for schools to navigate the post-mask world.
Kari Buchinger on Academics
During Advent, our team committed to including a quote in our email signatures each month. Last week I was searching for something for the upcoming Lenten season. I was inspired by the words of St. Francis de Sales, “Lent is the Autumn of the spiritual life during which we gather fruit to keep us going for the rest of the year.”
The school calendar allows for various pause points for teachers, leaders, and students to recharge throughout the school year. But that often includes trips, extra sleep, and catching up on favorite tv shows, not our spiritual lives. As we embark on another Lenten season, I urge you all to keep in mind the words of St. Francis de Sales and view your 40-day journey as a time to fill your spiritual cup and to help your students to the same. This is a time to reflect, refocus, and grow closer to God in hopes that rejuvenation now will help us face any challenges that are to come in our personal and professional lives in the year ahead. How will you use this Lenten season to grow as a leader, teacher, parent, friend, and follower of Christ?
You might consider:
- Make a Lenten sacrifice
- Commit to doing more- volunteering, prayer, time with family
- Attend Mass as often as you can
- Go to Reconciliation
- Pray the Rosary daily
- Participate in the Stations of the Cross
A few reminders:
* Zoom links for test scorer training were sent out to those who registered via the google form. If you did not register but want to attend one of the training sessions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
* School leaders please take a moment to complete this survey if you are interested in hosting student teachers in the future. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdEv4z3UXIQumRJ2FmMFDYoHhhMSI4q9F08JTBP-2JKlkAimw/viewform?usp=sf_link
* Do you need equipment for your science lab? An anonymous donor has a plethora of items to donate to our schools. If you are interested please email email@example.com.
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
Chris Riso on Government Services
NYS School Mask Mandate Ends 3/2/22: On 2/27/22, Gov. Hochul announced that the NYS mask requirement in schools will end on 3/2/22. During this announcement, she indicated that counties, cities, and school districts might still require masks in school but we have not heard that any WNY counties plan to require masks in school; in fact, Erie County formally announced that as of 3/2/22 “students and school staff will not be required to wear masks in school settings.”
It is our interpretation that this policy change means that schools no longer have to require masks for participants or spectators at extra-curricular events. As Dr. Uhl indicated in his email to you on Sunday, “when the mask mandate ends, the Diocese is recommending that each school make its own decision regarding masks (at certain times or in certain places, for example, or completely optional).” In your communication to your school community about this change in policy, we highly recommend that you reassert the right for people to continue wearing masks in school if they wish to do so and that harassment of individuals for wearing or not wearing masks will not be tolerated.
Mandated Services Update: I wanted to remind you that there are only 24 school days until the 4/1/22 Mandated Services claim submission deadline, so if you have not started working on your claim I would encourage you to start this week. If you ask, I can look your claim over once it has been entered online (but NOT submitted!) on the NYSED Business Portal. So far I have reviewed 6 claims and all 6 have been submitted and approved; that leaves 47 schools left to assist so I really need you to enter your claim online on your own or at a Data Entry session (but do not submit) by 3/23/22 and then send me an email to request a review. Any reviews left until after that date may result in insufficient time to correct any areas of concern prior to the submission deadline.
Reprint: Mandated Services Data Entry Sessions 3/21 & 3/22: If you are not using a paid preparer please make sure you are completing the Mandated Services forms provided by me to prepare for online submission. We have arranged for two half-day sessions to assist you as you key in your Mandated Services claims (after your paper forms are completed):
- Mon., Jan. 21 – Notre Dame - Abbott Site, 1125 Abbott Rd., Buffalo 14220, 1:00 - 4:00pm
- Tues., Jan. 22 – St. Amelia School, 2999 Eggert Rd, Tonawanda 14150, 1:00 - 4:00pm
If you wish to attend one of these sessions please register by sending an email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you do not need the in-person assistance you can always submit the claim on your own. If you want me to look it over prior to submission, make sure you save it online by 3/23/22 for me to view before you click “submit”.
CIDEL “Call to Leadership” Event on 3/5 for Administrators & Aspiring Administrators: I would like to invite you and your teachers to the CIDEL “Call to Leadership” taking place on Saturday, March 5th from 8:30am to Noon at Erie 1 BOCES (355 Harlem Road, West Seneca). The “Call” is a great event for teachers looking for more information on becoming a school leader. Our own Karen Green will be a “School Leader” panelist at this event! The cost for this event is $30 and CTLE credit is available for those who need it. Click here for more information. Click here to register online: Call To Leadership 2022 Registration (google.com)
- 3/2/22 NYS School Mask Mandate Ends
- 3/18/22 Last Day to Submit Erie 1 BOCES Textbook Orders
- 3/23/22 Deadline to Save Mandated Services Claim online for C. Riso Review
- 3/25/22 Last Day for Additional EANS I Reimbursement Requests
- 3/31/22 NYSED Nonpublic Safety Equipment (NPSE) Application Due
- 3/31/22 NYSED Elementary School AIS Purchases/Projects/Payments Completed
- 4/1/22 Online 2020-21 Mandated Services Claim Due to NYSED
- 4/1/22 Parent Requests for 2022-23 Transportation Due to Public School Districts
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
Save the Date!
NYS Test Scoring Schedule Sign Up here
NYS Test Scorer Training
- Option 1: March 1 3:00-4:30 pm
- Option 2: March 3 1:00-2:30 pm
- Option 3: March 4 9:00-10:30 am
ELA Scoring Dates
- Schools North of Buffalo April 4 (3,5,7) &April 6 (4,6,8)
- Schools South of Buffalo April 7 (3,5,7) & April 8 (4,6,8)
Math Scoring Dates
- Schools North of Buffalo May 5 (3,5,7) & May 6 (4,6,8)
- Schools South of Buffalo May 9 (3,5,7) & May 10 (4,6,8)
Science Scoring for all Schools: June 10 (4,8)
- Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays.
- Principal meeting with pastors/canonical administrators on Thursday, March 10th
- Primetime televised segment to support Catholic Education on Sunday, April 3rd, 2022 from 8:00-9:00 PM on WBBZ-TV
- X-Stream Games, May 15, 2022.
- 175th Anniversary Mass for 8th graders, Sep 20, 2022, 10 am at the Cathedral
- Diocesan Professional Development Day October 7, 2022 at St. Amelia's.
- School Pastor's Administrative Guide
- The Executive Summary. of this year's school data.
- Video recording of All-schools Mass at OLV with Bishop Fisher. Here is the link to Dr. Uhl's talk.
- "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
- Here's a link to the forms on our website.
- New Policy Manual
- New Operations Manual
- Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This week Gloria Purvis joined me on the podcast to discuss Black Catholicism and racism in the Church. Previous episodes:
- My old friend Neal Wilkinson, SJ joins me to discuss his vocation and work as well as his struggles with living with Parkinson's
- Roy Petitfils joins the podcast to discuss the impact the pandemic has had on us all.
- Dr. Lauren Casella of LMU joins the podcast to discuss her work with our Principal PLN to strengthen Catholic identity.
- Last week's podcast is a discussion with author Mark Shea about the divisions and tensions within the Catholic Church.
- Last week's podcast is a great conversation with Diocese of Orlando Superintendent Henry Fortier. One of the few African-American Catholic school superintendents, Henry discusses the challenges of the past few year
- I was joined on the podcast by Dr. Ann Garrido, the author/speaker/ professor of homiletics.
- The December 27th episode was a conversation with Jennifer Daniels of the USCCB about government programs and school choice.
- In the December 20th episode, Bridgette Theurer discusses Resilient Leadership
- In the December 13th episode, I'm talking with Jodee Blanco about parents bullying the school.
- Here is the link to the Dec 7th conversation with Faustin Weber, the author of the great blog post "Top Ten Suggestions to Avoid Principal Burnout."
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Articles for Your Reflection
Opinion | Catholic Schools' Good Covid Year
Catholic schools have educated millions of Americans, and their decline in recent decades has been a cultural and educational tragedy. But crisis creates opportunity, and the news is that Catholic schools staged a surprising enrollment rebound during the pandemic. Imagine that: Stay open to teach children, and they will come.
Let's Quit Saying Parents are "Sacrificing" to Send Their Kids to Our Schools!
Language matters, and over time, it shapes our thinking. That's why I advocate that we ditch using "sacrifice" to describe what parents do when they send their children to Catholic schools. "Sacrifice," in simplest terms, means "to sell at a loss" or to "give up something."
Lessons from Learning Pods for Catholic Schools-and Civic Life - Partnership Schools
The Center on Reinventing Public Education released new data this week on learning pods. Their analysis of how these alternatives to traditional schools rose in popularity in 2020, only to decline significantly this year, has noteworthy implications for Catholic schools and the broader school choice movement.
For parents, everything feels like a high-stakes decision now. Here's how to lower the anxiety.
I recently spent 45 minutes speaking to a patient about body wash. I'm a clinical psychologist specializing in maternal mental health. The body wash conversation was with a mom of a toddler who was agonizing over whether she should purchase a natural (read: expensive) product she'd heard about on Instagram for her kid who has sensitive skin.
Jesus loves you. Can you believe it?
Lent invites us to recognize that we are enough for God, writes Father Bryan Massingale. "Repent, and believe in the gospel." These two summonses, or better, invitations, are spoken over us as Christians are marked with ashes at the beginning of Lent. We are called to "repent" and to "believe."
School Leader Crisis: Overwhelmed by Mounting Mental Health Issues and Public Distrust, a 'Mass Exodus' of Principals Could be Coming
As Derek Forbes began his third pandemic school year as a high school principal in Washington state, he was facing an uptick in disruptive behavior - kids talking back to teachers, getting into disagreements with their peers. Perhaps, he thought, young people had lost some maturing time in pandemic isolation, since the behavior was more [...]
Western New York Catholic
St. Luke's Mission of Mercy will be the spotlight on an upcoming episode of EWTN's "Living Divine Mercy." Airing Ash Wednesday, the segment will show a typical day at the unique East Side Buffalo mission. George Foster, a video producer for the Marian Helpers Association in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, spent two days at St.
Thought Experiment: How Einstein Solved Difficult Problems - Farnam Street
Thought experiments are a classic tool used by many great thinkers. They enable us to explore impossible situations and predict their implications and outcomes. Mastering thought experiments can help you confront difficult questions and anticipate (and prevent) problems. *** The purpose of a thought experiment is to encourage speculation, logical thinking and to change paradigms. Thought experiments push us outside our comfort zone by forcing us to confront questions we cannot answer with ease.
My Last 5 Books
- A Disarming Spirit: The Life of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen (2018) by Frank Fromherz
Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence & the Problem of Control (2019) by Stuart Russell
In the Midst of our Storms (2014) by Roc O'Connor, SJ
Big Russ & Me: Father & Son Lessons of Life (2014) by Tim Russert
Writing Straight with Crooked Lines: A Memoir (2020) by Jim Forest
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
A couple of 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.