Catholic School Matters
December 13, 2022
One of my all-time favorite thought exercises is to ask a school leader “What would you do with a million dollars?” I’m often disappointed with the answers which amount to plugging a hole in the budget such as “give money out as scholarships” to “fix the roof” or “pay the teachers better.” Not that those aren’t all important needs–it’s just that those answers lack creativity.
We need to dream. Maybe a million dollars isn’t enough. What about ten million? 100 million? A blank check? How would that change your school?
If you gave me a blank check I would open a new tuition-free school for the underserved. In Buffalo that would be the East Side. So we’re kicking the tires on the idea and trying to see if there is interest and investigating all possibilities. In this day and age, that includes the possibility of opening a Catholic charter school. The latest opinion from the Oklahoma attorney general has made religious charter schools part of the conversation.
This week, we’re launching a survey on the East Side gauging the interest of the people who live there in a new Catholic school. We’ll measure that and take this into consideration in our planning for the future. Stay tuned! Let’s keep dreaming.
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Dr. Tim Uhl
Kari Buchinger on Academics
The Advent season is a time when hope, love, joy, and peace fill not only our hearts but also the classrooms in our Catholic Schools. Our Catholic School leaders, teachers, and students participate in traditions that have become significant parts of their community and school culture.
One of my favorite traditions during advent is the celebration of Las Posadas, meaning “The Inns” in Spanish. This is a religious festival traditionally celebrated in Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, Spain, and now many parts of the United States between December 16th and 24th. This celebration commemorates the journey taken by Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem as they famously looked for a room at an inn before Mary gave birth to baby Jesus.
During this reenactment, people process from location to location singing songs and stopping at homes to ask if they have lodging for Mary and Joseph. Each time the couple is refused, those in the home join the procession and make their way to the next house. Traditionally, the procession ends at a church where mass is held, and after the service, children break open pinatas filled with goodies. The pinatas are in the shape of a star, like the one that led the three wise men to the newborn Jesus. Las Posadas has become a tradition at Christ the King School in Synder. Students are preparing to take part in this celebration next week. What unique traditions does your school take part in? What new traditions may you want to add? Perhaps, Las Posadas will become a new tradition for your community.
Would you like to learn more about Las Posadas? Here are a few videos you could share with your students.
Las Posadas for Kids-English
Spelling Bee Reminders:
Siobhan has put together some spelling bee information for everyone. Please use the link below to access some tips and find the spelling bee registration form.Each school can submit their top three spellers to take part in our spelling bee final on Monday, January 30th at Mount St Mary Academy. If you have any questions about the event please email Siobahn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari
Chris Riso on Government Services
As 2022 draws to a close, please remember that I am available to assist you as you interact with your public school districts on Title services, nursing, busing, textbooks, and Special Education. The cyclical nature of these programs means that consultation will begin in the next few months in preparation for your 2023-2024 participation. If you are interested, I would be happy to join you for any of your public school consultation meetings if I am available.
Mandated Services: Thank you to the 21 schools that have begun working on their 2021-2022 Mandated Services claims; email me if you would like your personalized Excel spreadsheet. Don’t forget to print out a hard copy of your 9/1/2021 to 8/31/2022 payroll report and associated benefits information to support the amounts you plan to claim. See my Mandated Services webpage for forms and advice from me on this process.
E-Rate: On Friday 12/9/2022, Denton Clark emailed many of you about the E-Rate assistance his company, Mondavi Design, can provide. I just wanted to remind you that his services are not free and that should you wish to participate in this federal program you are welcome to use him or anyone you wish for the preparation of your E-Rate reimbursement forms. In the past, schools have been charged anywhere from $440 to $1,400 for his services based on how long it takes him to complete and submit your forms (this relates to the complexity of your claim). Please take that into account when deciding whether applying for E-Rate is worth the time and effort, especially if there is a chance that your fee could be higher than the anticipated amount of reimbursement. Remember, the Diocese of Buffalo Department of Catholic Schools is no longer the “middle man” for the Mondavi Design billing so Denton will bill each school individually for the services they request from his company. Please contact me if you would like more information on the E-Rate program.
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
It's not too early to begin thinking about the Diocesan Chess Championship. Chess tournament signup
This schedule is located on spreadsheet.com and you will need to request access to view it.
It has all of the Diocesan Elementary League games on it. It will show you the date and time of the game, where it is being held, which school is the home team and which school is the away team.
Please see the athletics/activities blog for the most up to date information.
Save the Date!
- Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
- Diocesan principal meeting, Jan 12th, 2022 at St. Andrew's. This meeting will be sponsored by Catholic Virtual. RSVP here. Agenda will be posted here (when ready).
- All-diocesan 8th grade dance, Feb 11th, Nardin Academy.
- Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.
- 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
How Social Media Can Improve Student Enrollment And Retention | SchneiderB Media
Your social media networks are a valuable way to attract prospective families to your school and an effective tool for improving student retention rates. You can share announcements, highlight special events, and build community related to shared values. Most importantly, social media is an excellent way to listen and respond to questions and concerns from parents.
A Key to Better Leadership: Confident Humility
Nano Tools for Leaders® - a collaboration between Wharton Executive Education and Wharton's Center for Leadership and Change Management - are fast, effective tools that you can learn and start using in less than 15 minutes, with the potential to significantly impact your success.
School principals say culture wars made last year 'rough as hell'
"Rough as hell." That's how one high school principal in Nevada describes the 2021-'22 school year, when conflicts with parents and community members were all too common. "Something needs to change or else we will all quit," says another principal, in California.
Meet the finalists for DA's Top Ed Tech Product awards
The world of education technology is constantly growing, making it difficult for leaders and administrators to stay in the loop. Others, however, take advantage of the Future of Education Technology® Conference to witness firsthand the latest and most innovative technologies in education. FETC 2023, which will take place Jan.
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is underway with a great conversation with Dr. Hosffman Ospino and Dr. Melodie Wyttenbach. These two Boston College professors discuss their "Cultivating Talent" report and summit. Previous episodes:
- 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.
My Last 5 Books
- On the Edge: Your Catholic School Guide to Student Recruitment & Retention (2013) by Daniel Horn
Jesus' Alternative Plan: The Sermon on the Mount (2022) by Richard Rohr
The Prepared Leader: Emerge from any Crisis More Resilient than Before (2022) by Erika James & Lynn Perry Wooten
Faith For the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality (2019) by Thomas Groome.
Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (2012) by Laurent Dubois.
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.