Catholic School Matters

March 21, 2023

Purpose & Mission

As our Catholic schools have transitioned away from a faculty made up of religious sisters, brothers, and priests, the challenge has been how to form our lay faculty in Catholic schools in order to cultivate an authentic Catholic culture. The recent turnover of staff has accelerated this challenge as many of our schools have seen upwards of half their staff turn over in recent years.

Traditionally, dioceses developed their own “Catechetical Formation” programs which required teachers to take classes on topics such doctrine, sacraments, liturgy, Old/New Testament, and social justice. Yet today’s Catholic school teachers are often non-Catholics or Catholics whose education might have a few gaps. This is our reality and our challenge is how to meet them where they are and develop pedagogy that will move them forward.

How do adults learn? Here’s a primer on Malcolm Knowles’ Adult Learning Theory aka Andragogy. The most relevant is that “adults are most interested in learning subjects that have immediate relevance and impact to their job or personal life.” We have teachers in our Catholic schools who don’t know how to build Catholic culture. Some want to know, some don’t know what they don’t know, and some don’t care to know. We need to worry about the first two groups and build a coalition of the willing.

To that end, we decided to create three different videos that will accompany our current Catholic school teachers. These are freely available and can be watched together (which will spur discussion and community) or assigned for private viewing.

The 3 videos for Religious Professional Development Hours have been posted on our YouTube channel. You can watch them individually or through a playlist entitled “Religious PD Hours 2022-2023” that has been created on our site. The links to the individual videos are below:

  • Created by me, the first video gives a basic overview of the Catholic church and is a crash course on what every Catholic school teacher needs to know. “Catholic Church History

  • Catholic Schools Today is Kari Buchinger’s short video of the state of Catholic schools in this country. Innovations, new models, and challenges facing all Catholic schools are found in this video. It’s a great way to build community with all Catholic schools.

  • I created this video on Mission of Catholic Schools to give all Catholic school educators a sense of what high-performing Catholic schools should be doing.

We ask all of our Catholic school teachers to watch all three videos before the end of the school year (either individually or in community). We’ll build on these videos for next year and develop some new content. Our hope is that we’ll build a stronger purpose and mission in our schools.

Previous blogs can be found here. 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

Kari Buchinger on Academics

Positive Classroom Communities

Over the last two weeks, I've had the opportunity to lead professional development in a handful of our schools. One subject that has come up time and time again is student behavior. The first month of school is filled with routine, procedures, and community building. Somewhere along the way, we stop prioritizing these elements of instruction, and student behavior can shift drastically. It is easy to assume that students already know what is expected of them, but we all need reminders and support.

As we move into the spring season, remember those building blocks of your classroom community and build in time to continually review procedures, expectations, and, most importantly, build community.

Positive classroom communities help:

  • *promote student engagement

  • *encourage positive social interactions

  • *foster a sense of belonging

  • *promote academic success

  • *Provide support for students

This is just as true in March as in September when we welcome students into our classrooms for the first time.

Do you have a procedure in your classroom that isn't working? Change it!

Are students talking over you during instruction? Reteach and practice those expectations. Don't save it for next year.

Are you looking for a fun way to bring in student voices? Consider this Appreciation, Apology, Aha strategy.

Here's to making these last few months of school the best ones yet, good luck!

School Messenger

Several schools have inquired about the possibility of a School Messenger discount if multiple schools use the program. If you currently use School Messenger or would be interested in using it please complete this google form by Monday, March 27.


One more week to submit Golden Apple and St. Sebastian nominations!

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari

Office Updates

  1. Here's the link to the Office Blog

Chris Riso on Government Services

Mandated Services Update: We’re in the final stretch! I wanted to remind you that there are only 8 school days until the 4/1/23 Mandated Services claim submission deadline, so if you have not started working on your claim I would encourage you to start this week. See my March 7, 2023 post for more information about this process. Please email me if you want me to look your claim over once it has been entered online (but NOT submitted!) on the NYSED Business Portal by this Friday, 3/24/23. Any reviews left until after that date may result in insufficient time to correct any areas of concern prior to the submission deadline. Also, please forward to me any “Hold” or “Post Review” emails you get from the state that request follow-up on your end to resolve a claim.

NonPublic Safety Equipment (NPSE) Reimbursement Update: Remember, the Year 9 Non Public Safety Equipment (NPSE) deadline is 3/31/23 - allocations and reimbursement forms are posted here. The reimbursement form for this program must be submitted to NYSED by 3/31/22 so be sure you leave enough time for the application to arrive on that date by mail. Please contact SORIS if you have any questions at 518-474-6541 or you can email the SORIS office directly at

Elementary AIS 3/31/23 Deadline for Purchases/Project Completion for 2022-23 Reimbursement: Even though the deadline for the AIS reimbursement application is not until 4/15/23, I just wanted to remind you that March 31, 2023 is the deadline for purchasing supplies or paying for and completing projects under the Elementary AIS program for reimbursement this school year. If you plan to apply for 2022-2023 reimbursement, please make sure all purchases and work have been completed and paid for by March 31st. Failure to pay for and complete projects by the deadline means that you will not be able to submit for reimbursement until next year’s 2023-2024 forms are made available by NYSED closer to December 2023 for reimbursement after 3/31/2024. Please email me if you have any questions about this program. Here is the link to the AIS Program resources and allocations.

CSAANYS Gathering, Save the Date: This year CSAANYS will be having two events, one downstate (9/27, Westchester) and one in Syracuse on 10/18/23 (Barbagallo’s, East Malloy Rd, East Syracuse). These will be school day events and include the Lighting the Fire awards after a luncheon (see linked nomination form.) You are welcome to attend either event, however the Lighting the Fire awards for Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Ogdensburg, & Albany will be given at the October 18th Gathering.

Previous posts from Mr. Riso

Athletics Info

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:00 am on Wednesdays
  2. Catholic High School information nights March 21st Nativity of Our Lord, March 28th St. Andrew CDS, 6-7:30 pm each night. Open to all students/parents in grades 6-8.
  3. 8th grade retreat April 21st.
  4. Celebration (Awards Ceremony) May 30, St. Stephen's
  5. New Teacher Inservice (including VIRTUS), August 29th
  6. School Board workshop September 22nd
  7. Fall Professional Development day, October 6, 2023 @ St. Mary's HS.


  1. School Visit Form, spring 2023.
  2. Devotional Calendar 2022-23.
  3. The Fall 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard; The spring 2022 Diocesan Health Scorecard.
  4. School Pastor's Administrative Guide
  5. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  6. New Policy Manual for all Catholic schools in the Diocese of Buffalo.
  7. New Operations Manual for Diocesan Catholic schools.
  8. Administrator Goal Sheet and the new Administrator evaluation form

Articles for Your Reflection

Catholic School Matters Podcast

This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is on a break this month. Previous episodes:

Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Catholic School Matters

A weekly newsletter of resources to spur enrollment and excellence in our Catholic schools.

Location: Buffalo, NY, USA
Phone: 716-847-5520
Twitter: @WNYCatholicEd

Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

March 14, 2023 "Financial Metrics"

March 7, 2023 "Operating Principles"

Feb 28th "How to Use the Newsletter"

Feb 14th "Activities & Retention"

Feb 7th "Anchor Churches"

For previous newsletters, click this link

A few 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.