Monthly Archives: April 2020

April 26th Newsletter

The link to this week’s newsletter.

Last week’s Catholic School Matters podcast featured an interview with Dr. Eric Wearne of Kennesaw State discussing the “Open Letter to Independent School Leaders,” and Leslie De Leonardis, the STEM Director at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, also joined the podcast to discuss how valuable and relevant STEM can be in a remote learning environment.  This week I’ll be joined by two outstanding school leaders—Tom Campbell of Our Lady of Good Counsel HS outside DC and Mary Patrick from St. Stephen’s outside Baltimore.  The Top 5:

  1. The Ed Week article “Developing a Crisis Management System” is a great call to action for school leaders. The author suggests we form a task force to begin planning for the fall—scheduling, responses, cleaning, communication, etc.
  2. Partnership Schools has another great blog post “Lessons Learned from a Crisis” which illustrates the value of reflection and learning.
  3. HBR has two articles of value. “When a Crisis Hits, Lead with Humanity” and “Finding the Right Words in a Crisis” are both chock full of great suggestions.
  4. I have developed a new section where I compile resources as well as my own COVID collection. Far and away the best resource I came across this week was from SmartBrief.
  5. The article at the end of the Miscellaneous section about a partnership between St. Mary’s University and the neighboring parish illustrate evangelization at its best. This is an example of a university reaching out to serve its community and I couldn’t be more proud to be a Rattler alum.

April 19th Newsletter

This week’s newsletter focuses on the pandemic and our doubts about the future.  My hope is that we’ll acknowledge those doubts and fears and build our faith for the future.

This week’s Top 5:

  1. Everyone needs to read the extraordinary publication “An Open Letter to Independent School Leaders” from a couple of faculty members from Kennesaw State University. It will cause you to refocus your efforts as your school faces this great challenge.
  2. We need to remind ourselves and our communities about why we’re staying at home. For the Catholic perspective from “First Things,” read this essay by Thomas Joseph White “Epidemic Danger and Catholic Sacraments.”  I fear that our response to the pandemic will become politicized in our parent communities so it’s good to read this essay to support the actions of the Church.
  3. To develop a little patience with yourself and your teammates, read this great HBR article entitled, “Is It Even Possible to Focus on Anything Right Now?” It’s good to remind yourself that this trauma (defined as “too much, too fast”) is taking a toll on all of us.
  4. We need to face the brutal facts of our current crisis. Neal McCluskey’s “Private Schools Face an Existential Threat”  spells it out in clear terms.
  5. I recommend Tom Barrett’s blog post “9 Strategies for Thinking Obliquely.” We are all faced with new problems and trying to figure out new approaches (quickly and accurately to boot!) demands creativity.

April 13th Newsletter

Happy Easter!  Thanks to Frank Donaldson of ISPD for sponsoring this week’s newsletter.  The Top 5 this week:

  1. The first link is from Beth Blaufuss from Partnership Schools “Adaptability: the Secret to Survival.” It’s a quick but insightful blog post describing that fear of closure and adaptability have defined Catholic schools for years.  We can turn these traits into strengths in 2020.
  2. George Couros, educational innovator and blogger, brings his “A” game with “Toward a New and Better Normal.” When I read this I remember thinking that was exactly what I needed to read at the time.
  3. Jesse Remedios of NCR reminds us that there is life outside of the pandemic with a piece called “What Does Climate Change Demand of Catholic Schools?” In my podcast conversation last week with David Quammen about the current pandemic, he referenced how climate change and overpopulation are playing a role in disrupting ecosystems and causing pandemics.
  4. Real Leaders are Forged in Crisis” from HBR serves as a reminder to us that these difficult times are calling for leadership.
  5. What You Truly Value” from the Farnam Street blog. Who hasn’t spent a little time thinking about how different life seems?  Read this for further reflection.

April 5th Newsletter

The Top 5 this week:

  1. In the first section, “It’s Your Leadership Moment” by Knowledge @ Wharton is a really great reflection piece giving leaders tangible advice on what to do now and how to begin thinking strategically. It’s a short piece but full of practical advice.
  2. The next article is a blog piece in the Arrupe Virtual Learning Institute’s “CrossCurrents” blog entitled “Future-Forward Leadership: Leading Catholic Schools Through The Covid Crisis Through Living Our Mission.” Jeff Hausman, the director of AVLI, is uniquely poised to assist schools through this period of remote learning.
  3. I’ve included a number of great religion resources for Holy Week. But the first one is from the McGrath Institute at Notre Dame: “Simple Prayers for Complicated Times.”  Have you seen a million different “free resources” and “simple plans” and “webinars for remote learning.”  Are you overwhelmed?  Read this blog piece for three simple prayers to help you refocus and re-center.  As I wrote this, Johnny Cash’s “To Beat the Devil” was playing in my ears.  “The devil haunts the lonely man,” he crooned.  We need simple prayers to stave off the loneliness and disconnection gripping our communities.
  4. The next two articles from NCR are interviews with theologians and church leaders imagining how the church might look different after the pandemic. They make for great reading because they are first-person accounts.
  5. In the Educational Resources section, the first link is to the Cult of Pedagogy’s “A Gently Curated List of Resources for Distance Learning.” This is Jennifer Gonzalez’s site and it’s top notch.  Everyone is bound to find something of value.