Catholic School Matters

October 30, 2016

Catholic Leadership Summit

Last week I attended the Catholic Leadership Summit in Indianapolis put on the by the National Catholic Education Association. If you wonder what Catholic superintendents talk about when they get together, read on. Here are my musings and takeaways:

· Bishop George Murry (Youngstown), the chair of the NCEA Board of Directors, opened the Summit by calling us to examine why our enrollments have been declining. He challenged us to face the brutal facts of our reality and to better articulate our mission.

· In three breakout sessions, I heard how dioceses are using data to assess the health of their schools. I’m interested in finding out ways to discover and interpret the demographic, financial, academic, and faith formation data to assist our schools.

· Most people agree that the areas of marketing, operational vitality, leadership formation, and governance are areas to fight the “hospice mentality” of Catholic schools. In other words, we aren’t just making the schools comfortable in their suffering but looking for ways to innovate.

· The tension of subsidiarity (e.g. autonomy) and solidarity (e.g. systemness) is a struggle for most dioceses and Catholic schools. How can we allow local solutions while not reinventing the wheel?

· Superintendents struggle to lead by influence, not coercion.

· An executive from Nucor Steel (a company featured in Good to Great) mentioned the example of Nokia who said, “We did everything right but still lost.” He used that example to illustrate that Catholic schools need to continue to innovate and improve in the face of ever-changing circumstances.

· At a philanthropy roundtable, foundation executives shared their desire to assist in the mission, not simply giving money to charity. They want to support innovation and move away from simply operational support.

· Kevin Baxter, the superintendent of the Archdiocese of LA Catholic School and the guest for Podcast #1, mentioned the “Pebble in the Hole” analogy. Everyone is called to drop a pebble in the hole of improving Catholic schools, doing their part to bring about improvements.

· Joe Womac, the Executive Director of the Specialty Family Foundation and a future podcast guest, described a cynic as “someone who has given up but hasn’t shut up.”

May we all avoid cynicism and the cynics! These insights will guide my thoughts and blogs for the next few months as I seek to integrate them into our great Montana Catholic schools.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

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"Catholic School Matters" Podcast

Last Monday, Episode #7 dropped and included an interview with the engaging Stephanie Saroki de Garcia, the Executive Director of the Seton Partners, who talked about blended learning, philanthropy, and the future of Catholic schools. Tomorrow, Episode #8 will drop and will be an interview with Jonathan Doyle, the Aussie founder of Going Deeper. We'll discuss teacher faith formation and the needs of Catholic school teachers.

Here is the link to the podcast on iTunes. Please subscribe to the podcast so new episodes will automatically download. The show is also available on Stitcher and Google Play. If you don't have accounts with any of those content providers, here is the link to my basic page with the podcasts.

The Week Ahead

Monday: Great Falls meetings

Tuesday: office (Helena)

Wednesday: Helena & Butte meetings

Thursday: office (Helena)

Friday: visit to St. Mary's (Livingston)

This week: 650 driving miles

Last week: 395 driving miles; 3,262 air miles

2016-17: 12,934 driving miles; 9.678 air miles

What I'm Reading 2016-17

  1. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen.
  2. The Gift of Failure by Jessica Lahey. (on deck)
  3. Reading with the daughter: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. Finished:The Horse and His Boy; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Magician's Nephew.
  4. The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen (finished)
  5. Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. (finished)
  6. Reinvention: Accelerating Results in the Age of Disruption Cragun & Sweetman (finished)
  7. Cultures Built to Last: Systemic PLCs at Work by Fullan and DuFour (finished)
  8. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (finished)
  9. Finding Our Way: Leadership for an Uncertain Time by Margaret J. Wheatley (finished)
  10. The Orange Frog by Shawn Achor (finished)

Montana Catholic Schools

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

For Principals

  1. Please distribute the following survey to all staff members who attended the Professional Development Days. The survey is due November 22nd.
  2. This is the second call for nominations for Educator of the Week. Nominations must include a picture and a short reason for the nomination.
  3. Montana Catholic Schools now has a new Facebook page.
  4. Please take a look at this faith formation resource page for Catholic schools by Santa Clara University.
  5. Please check the principal portal for administrative requirements and monthly principal tasks.
  6. On the Horizon:
  • Fall Principal meetings: Nov 14th Great Falls, Nov 15th Pryor, Nov 16th Missoula.

American Catholic News

Billiken Teacher Corps

Leadership Links

Teaching & Learning


The psychology of narcissism - W. Keith Campbell