Catholic School Matters

September 21, 2021

How we doing?

The pandemic has challenged our students’ mental health. Most of us have seen higher levels of anxiety, more volatile conflicts, and displaced anger. The school social workers from Catholic Charities have reported these new challenges and many more.

Everyone is concerned but, of course, this is a busy time with a lot to worry about. Leadership means paying attention to what’s important. If you’re concerned about SEL, you need to give it your attention.

On Wednesday during our weekly Zoom call, the coordinator of the school social workers, Elise Pogorzelski, will be joining us to share her concerns and hear yours. Stop in and join the conversation as we work to shape our school environments for students to flourish.

In the last few blogs, I’ve talked about the need to solve problems upstream before they manifest in our daily lives. In this case, however, we can’t solve the pandemic and the restrictions. We need to focus on what we can change--namely, the school environment shaping our students.

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

Office Updates

  1. Please fill out the principal goal setting form and return one copy to Mary Tepley. This is based on the 4 domains of the National Standards & Benchmarks.

  2. Link here for the Catholic Schools Day at the BPO (Jan 18, 2022). Here's the link to the registration form.

  3. Just a friendly reminder that the FICE mini-grant applications are due September 30. Any questions, please contact Shelly Reidy.

  4. Registration has begun for the free annual Religious and Independent Schools Educators (RISE) conference taking place virtually on November 9th and 10th. This is an excellent professional development opportunity for you and your teachers, with many of the sessions taking place after school ends. Here are the Links for more information: RISE Conference | nyscirs and Program. To register, go to RISE 2021 Conference Registration Form (

From Kari Buchinger

Teaching is a challenging job that requires flexibility, openness, and a growth mindset. You could walk into twenty classrooms in our Catholic schools and see twenty different approaches to instruction. But, when we take a step back and explore commonalities in schools and classrooms that demonstrate high student achievement, a few key factors emerge. The most successful classrooms focus on objective driven instruction, formative assessment, and methodology.

Today, we will dive into what it means to create clear objectives that are purposeful and relevant. This goes way beyond the need to add a "SWBAT" statement to your lesson plan template.

First, what makes up a strong objective? I like to stick to the 4 M's.

Made First- Create your objective before you begin to plan the lesson. If we don't know where we want students to go, we cannot effectively plan to get them there.

Manageable- Is this something that a student can master in one lesson? If the objective is too big, maybe there is a smaller objective that you can tackle first.

Measurable- Consider the question, "Can I ask my students one question and discover if they have mastered the objective?"

Most Important- Is this objective connected to a grade level standard? Is this a skill that they need to master to be successful in this class? Will they be able to apply this skill to future work?

Now, you may have created a strong objective. But, our work doesn't stop there. We must communicate lesson objectives to students and ensure they understand the goal and the why behind this objective. We all have had moments where students have asked, "why do I need to learn this?" The "because I said so" response just doesn't work anymore. Students are curious and eager to explore their personal interests. Sharing the "what" and "why" behind the daily objective will allow students to see connections between the teacher's direct instruction, collaborative or guided practice, their end of lesson assessment, and the potential to apply this skill in future contexts.

Time to dive in! Teachers, take an extra minute to check your objectives. Do they fit the 4 M's? If so, are you clearly communicating these objectives to your students? Give it a try.

Leaders, as you do walk-throughs this week, look for objective driven lessons. Is this already part of your teachers' practice? Or, is this a potential area for growth as you continue to grow as instructors this school year?

Are you a teacher that is already rocking the creation and communication of objectives in your classroom? Send some photos or a video to, and we will give you a shout out in future posts.

Previous "Academic Corner" posts from Kari:

Chris Riso, Government Services

Although I am not sure about other counties, it looks like Erie County DOH has shared a list of free options for the weekly testing of unvaccinated faculty and staff members. See Kara Kane’s email to you from 9/20/21 which included this document on free testing options. It looks like you can send your unvaccinated staff to any of the ECDOH testing sites (appointment required) or any Rite Aid or Walgreens pharmacy for free PCR COVID testing. Make sure the staff member forwards you a copy of their appointment date and time and then their results when they arrive up to 5 days later. This may be the answer we have been looking for. For those of you in other counties, check with your area Rite Aid and Walgreens to see if they have the same setup and will provide free weekly testing for your staff.

For those who had asked, NYSED confirmed to me that the Antigen COVID tests, including the “BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card”, may be used for weekly staff screening and diagnostic testing, but may not be used as part of the “return-to-school” protocol.

It turns out you now have until 5pm each day to submit your daily COVID-19 reports to NYSDOH via Log in | Daily School District DOH Survey ( If you are still having problems submitting your reports, please email me for assistance.

Again, thank you for completing your NCEA report and returning your completed Excel spreadsheet to Cathryn at by the 9/30/2021 deadline. Once we review your submission next few weeks we may email you asking for clarification on some of the information in your report. Once your NCEA report is submitted by 9/30/2021, you can turn your attention to the upcoming NYS BEDS report. We will send you information by 10/4/2021 to help you prepare for this report based on student attendance from Wednesday, 10/6/2021. The actual online BEDS report is not due to NYSED until November 19th.

Please be sure to follow the NYS “School pesticide neighbor notification” law found at: - Accessed 9/20/2021. A portion of the law is:

(b) Notification procedures. Schools shall establish written pesticide notification procedures to provide information on pesticide applications at relevant facilities according to the following provisions.

- (1) The school shall provide written notification to all staff and persons in parental relation at the beginning of each school year or summer school session. If a child enrolls after the beginning of the school year or summer school session, written notification shall be provided to the person in parental relation within one week of such enrollment. Such written notification shall include at a minimum the following information:

o (i) a statement that pesticide products may be used periodically throughout the school year or summer school session;

o (ii) a statement that schools are required to maintain a list of staff and persons in parental relation who wish to receive 48-hour prior written notification of pesticide applications at relevant facilities, and instructions on how to register with the school to be on such list for prior notification; and

o (iii) the name and phone number of a school pesticide representative who may be contacted to obtain further information.”

Previous posts from Mr. Riso:

Save the Date!

  1. Weekly principal Zooms at 9:30 am on Wednesdays.
  2. School Visit Schedule
  3. Catechetical Day (morning, 8:30-11:30) October 8th, OLV Basilica
  4. Diocese of Buffalo Catholic days at the BPO Jan 18th


  1. "Principal Task List." This is organized as a living Google Doc by month.
  2. Here's a link to the forms on our website.
  3. New Policy Manual
  4. New Operations Manual

Catholic School Matters

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

Articles for Your Reflection

Finishing Class Strong with Optimistic Closures

What I'm Reading

    1. The Street Stops Here: A Year at a Catholic High School in Harlem (2008) by Patrick J. McCloskey
    2. How to Think Like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education (2020) by Scott Newstok

    3. Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (2019 edition) by Jim Collins

    4. Belonging Through a Culture of Dignity: The Keys to Successful Equity Implementation (2019) by Floyd Cobb & John Krownapple

    5. The Edge: How Ten CEOs Learned to Lead - and the Lessons for Us All (2021) by Michael Useem

            Click this link for a full list of my professional reading

            Past Issues of Catholic School Matters

            September 14, 2021 "Retention, Retention"

            September 7, 2021 "Operations Manual"

            August 31, 2021 "Swimming Upstream"

            August 24, 2021 "Learning in Community"

            August 11, 2021 "Another COVID Opening"

            August 4, 2021 "Welcome Back"

            For previous newsletters, click this link