Montana Catholic Schools Weekly
February 1, 2016
Catholic Schools Week
Our Catholic schools are joining with all Catholic schools to celebrate Catholic Schools Week beginning today. Our schools have fun activities planned for students as well as appreciation events for teachers, staff, and parents. Through the Tweetwall, Pinterest, NCEA Marketing handbook, Sadlier's suggested activity, and other sources, schools have access to a myriad of ideas on how to celebrate.
One special feature this week is service projects. In this Year of Mercy, it’s important that our students are reminded of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. There was a great reminder of one school’s efforts to practice on the corporal works (bury the dead) in this article.
In several of my meetings last week, I became aware that many Montanans are confused about the purpose of Catholic schools and about who they serve. I have found four good articles which speak to the essential purpose of Catholic schools:
· The Five Essential Marks of Catholic Schools (2006) by Archbishop Michael Miller is a relevant discussion as to what should animate a Catholic school
· Cardinal Dolan’s 2010 article “The Catholic Schools We Need” is as relevant now as in 2010
· Archbishop Chaput’s recent column on Catholic schools entitled, “From Hospice to Hope: Thoughts on Catholic Schools Week 2016” is a great reflection on moving away from thoughts of scarcity to becoming strategic about the future
· The Alliance for Catholic Education program produced the “Ten Reasons Why Catholic Education Still Matters”
· “Values—Economic and Otherwise—Major Reason non-Catholics Choose Catholic schools” is a great article, too, from the non-Catholic perspective
One meeting last week has stuck with me and it leads me to believe that some within our system of Catholic schools do not understand the meaning and purpose of Catholic schools. Rosemary Miller is the Executive Director of Catholic Social Services of Montana (CSSM). Rosemary told me that CSSM has counseled a number of pregnant students from our Catholic schools. In each case, the student and/or her mother is considering an abortion because she wants to stay at the school. Unaware of School Policy 2118 which protects pregnant students from discrimination, these young women believe that the Catholic schools will expel them for becoming pregnant or shame them for their indiscretion.
How did this happen? How can we change this perception? This is not Catholic behavior and we need to focus less on the moral indiscretion and more on the courage to carry a baby to term despite the moral judgements.
The day after that meeting, however, I was reminded of one of our bright spots. I have will include a video below (but here is the direct link) of the greetings St. Francis Primary (Billings) sent to one of their Kindergarten students, Riley, suffering from leukemia. The video shows the students praying, singing, and even doing Common Core math (!) to include Riley in their school experience. It's a touching reminder of the strength of community.
Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent
Sharing our Past
One of the activities suggested for Catholic Schools Week is to share Catholic school pictures from the staff. Can you find Dr. Uhl?
Catholic Schools Week Logo
Bishop Thomas meets his flock
Bishop Thomas visited St. Joseph's Elementary School for a Q & A after the All-School Mass. (photo courtesy of The MIssoulian)
Sharing our Past
The Week Ahead
Tuesday: St. Labre meetings & All-School Mass
Wednesday: Billings meetings & All-School Mass
Thursday: Helena & Great Falls meetings
Friday: office (Helena)
This week: 1,061 miles
Last week: 270
2015-16: 15,198 driving miles/ 7,844 air miles
- I still need a few volunteers for our WCEA visiting teams next school year.
- Catholic Extension is offering a great webinar to school leaders (of mission dioceses like Montana) entitled "Innovations in Catholic School Administration. Here is the link to register for the Feb 16th 3:00 webinar.
- NWEA is offering a webinar entitled "Creating a Classroom Culture of Learning: Key Formative Assessment Practices" on Feb 4th at 10:00 am. Here is the link to sign up.
- The WCEA Annual reports for schools who have been through accreditation are due March 1st. I sent out the form via email last week.
- Take a look at the monthly list of tasks for principals: Are you keeping up?
- Here's the link to last week's Virtual Principal meeting.
- The WCEA has come out with its spring newsletter for all of its schools. Here is the link