Catholic School Matters
October 3, 2023
Friday's Collaborative Community
This Friday, our annual Professional Development Day is taking place at St. Mary’s High School. The theme is “Joy” as we strive to create more vibrant Catholic schools. It’s important for us all to come together as a Catholic school community. For schools which emphasize community as value, we tend to overemphasize the site-based nature of our schools; we can seem at times to be a system of 49 independent islands.
This naturally leads to isolation among our teachers, many of who are the only grade-level teacher or specialist. We’re tackling this issue by coming together and helping our teachers to feel a sense of belonging in something larger than themselves. We’re starting with Mass at Our Lady of Pompeii Church at 8:30 am. Bishop Fisher will be the presider and he’ll be talking about how to bring joy to our vocation.
After Mass, we’ll proceed to the high school auditorium for a keynote address by Dr. Kaitlin Reichart on how to promote joy in your classroom. Dr. Reichart comes to us from the Greeley Center at Loyola Chicago University. She was part of our new teacher orientation and will be joining our teachers and principals throughout the year via Zoom to follow up on her message of joy.
We’ll then break for lunch and then at noon we’re going to separate into grade-level groups. Dr. Reichart is leading the discussion (via Zoom) as each grade level group will discuss how to bring joy to your students. This discussion will allow our teachers to build a professional network of other Catholic teachers as well as allowing teachers to discuss what they’ve heard. As we all know, adults don’t learn until they’ve had a chance to discuss. While the teachers are in their session, we’re bringing in an enrollment consultant, Christopher Mominey from Avanti Advisers, to discuss the role of the principal in the enrollment management process.
After this session, all teachers and principals are coming back together so everyone can hear about the department initiatives this year–namely, Middle States Accreditation, STAR testing, and Board training. Then Mr. Mominey, a former religion teacher and superintendent, will discuss how mindset and vocation are intertwined. It promises to be a great capstone for a joyful day of collaboration and community.
But wait, there’s more. Several local Lancaster pubs have offered discounts for our teachers to celebrate happy hour after the conclusion of the PD day. Let the building of community continue! See you Friday!
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Dr. Tim Uhl
We've created a google doc for agendas and notes from the 8:30 am Wed Teams Meetings. Here is the link.
STAR Champion Academy is now being held on Oct. 25, 26 & 27 at UB Newman Center, 495 Skinnersville Rd, Getzville, NY 14228. Register HERE. View a sample of what will be covered here and how your school will benefit from Renaissance-U here.
The Character Virtue for September is Welcoming. Please use this link to submit your student for September by Fri. 10/6.
The Diocesan Speech Tournament has been postponed to January 20th, still at Cardinal O’Hara. More details to follow.
- Kickball registration has been extended to Oct.10th. See the flyer and form to register.
- The STREAM coordinator position is now open and we're searching for a part-time coordinator.
Here's the link to the Office Blog
Chris Riso on Government Services
10/4/23 BEDS Enrollment Anchor Date – Count All Staff & Students
10/23/23 NCEA Updates/Corrections Due to our Office via Google Sheet
10/28/23 Last day to register to vote in NYS – Encourage all Families to Vote!
BEDS Day is Oct. 4th – Complete Google Sheet before you submit to NYSED Online: Later today Laurie Wojtaszczyk will send you information and a link to your school-specific Google Sheet to help you prepare for the NYS BEDS report based on student and staff attendance from Wednesday, 10/4/2023. The actual online BEDS report is not due to NYSED until November 17th using the Business Portal (via “IRS Data Exchange” under “My Applications”, not “BEDS/IMF”). I would encourage you to use the Google Sheet we created and the associated instructions to help you organize your information prior to the online submission to NYSED using their Business Portal. My instructions include some tricks I have learned over the years to avoid data entry issues. I would be glad to assist you with any questions you might have while you are working on your BEDS report.
NCEA Report – Please Return Any Requested Changes as Soon as Possible: Thank you to everyone for taking the time needed to prepare and submit the NCEA reports. Now that we have them, Laurie and I will be reviewing the documents to look for any confusing or missing information. If we notice anything on your report we’ll send you an email and request any needed clarification. Please try to respond to these requests in a timely manner as we have a quickly approaching deadline for the Diocesan Summary report.
Title I for 2024-25 - Please send Free/Reduced Lunch Lists to Public School Districts: If you have any students who qualify for free or reduced lunch (or would be based on their family income if you had a free/reduced lunch program), please be sure to send a list of these students to the each of the public school districts in which they live for the purpose of identifying those who qualify for 2024-2025 Title I funding. The number of qualified students on these lists who live in the Title I attendance areas will help determine your 2024-2025 Title I allocation from each district. Feel free to use this template when writing to the school districts.
I recommend you send these letters out to each affected school district by November 1st. If you are familiar with the school district, address this letter to the correct person or use the contact information in this Excel spreadsheet; if you are unsure you can always send it to the superintendent. Either way, you should follow up a week or so after you send it to make sure someone at the district received it. Be sure you keep copies of these letters for future reference.
Hardware, Software, and Library Materials – Order through School District of Location: If you have not already done so for this school year, please make arrangements to order hardware, software, and library materials through the Public School District in which your school is located using the state funds available for such items to be loaned to you.
Fire Safety Inspection Due by December 1; Fire Safety Report Due by December 16: If your Fire Safety Inspection has not yet been completed, you must arrange to complete one prior to December 1st and, for most schools, the inspection report must be filed with the Commissioner via the Business Portal prior to December 16th. This year the Fire Safety Reports for all schools with more than 24 students not located in the city of Buffalo must be submitted via the NYSED Business Portal. Information on the process and the required Non-Public forms can be found on the bottom of this webpage.
Title IIa Planning Advice from Michelle Doyle: In her most recent blog post found at Title VIII guidance-Title IIA - Equitable Services MDEC, Michelle Doyle explains the Title IIa regulations and how our schools must prepare in order to ensure that our requested services and materials will be acceptable to the public school district. Some advice on the need to prepare a comprehensive PD Plan for Title IIa: “If you want to have your teachers attend a conference or want to offer a one-day workshop, its content must be part of an overall focus that your school is undertaking. There should be a theme for the school’s PD throughout the year. Coupling a one-day workshop with coaching that focuses on the same element of teaching and learning would help ensure that the PD request meets the definition of professional development. Combining multiple one-day workshops would also help ensure it meets the definition. Be sure you’re not presenting a “little of this, little of that” plan of action. Ensure there is a comprehensive theme that meets students needs and has specific achievable objectives.”
Previous posts from Mr. Riso
Articles for Your Reflection
Western New York Catholic
This past weekend, Bishop Michael W. Fisher released a pastoral letter titled, "Fulfilling our Discipleship Through a Renewed Commitment to Catholic Education," in which he examines the mutually supporting relationship between Catholic education and discipleship. Timothy Uhl, Ph.D., secretary of education for the Diocese of Buffalo, has offered his reflection on the letter.
Catholic School Matters Podcast
This season's Catholic School Matters podcast season is underway. This week,.I kick off a series of podcasts on leadership in Catholic schools. These five podcasts will include a conversation with a Catholic school leader about five controversies which have impacted Catholic schools in the past year. Then I invite on another Catholic school thought leader to reflect on what they've heard. The first podcast includes a conversation with Dr. Daniel McMahon from DeMatha Catholic High School and a reflection by Beth Purvis of Wake Forest. I've also penned a blog post which gives a little more context to the project. Previous episodes:
- I invite John Kennedy of St. Josephy High School in South Bend onto the show to discuss the school's decision to drop their Native American nickname and the process by which this decision occurred
- I spoke with Fr. Jack Podsiadlo, SJ, the author of the recent book "The Nativity Phenomenon." In the book, he tells the story of how the Nativity schools began and their incredible growth. Now semi-retired back home at McQuaid, this was a face-to-face conversation.
- I brought David Palmieri back on the podcast to discuss diocesan policies about human sexuality. Palmieri has done the homework to discover origins of different policies and find out how they are related to each other. We discuss the different types of policies, their origins, and their implications
- I spoke with Rob Birdsell of Amerigo Education & Catholic Virtual. It's a wide-ranging discussion about Catholic education and innovation
- I spoke with William Daily, the longtime principal of St. Mary Magdalene School in San Antonio which has undergone a remarkable transformation in the past decade.
- Conversation with Christine Healey. The Healey Foundation has been in incredible partner with the Diocese of Buffalo and Christine describes the new direction for the foundation.
Here is a link to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.
My Last 5 Books
The Nativity Phenomenon: A Model that Works (2023) by Jack Podsiadlo, SJ.
Distributed Leadership (2006) by James Spillane.
Born to Win: Find Your Success (2017) by Zig Ziglar.
Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works (2013) by A.G. Lafley & Roger L. Martin
The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila.
Click this link for a full list of my professional reading
Past Issues of Catholic School Matters
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. Most recently, I have completed a new book proposal so book #2 is underway!