Author Archives: Dr. Tim Uhl | Superintendent

Dec 2nd Newsletter

Here is the link to the Dec 2nd Newsletter.  This week, I blog about the need for dialogue in our schools in order to foster stronger faith communities.  We need healing and we need to lead through dialogue, not condemnation.

My top 5 of this week:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, I lead off with two good news stories. The first is a story about the Berks Catholic HS student diagnosed with brain cancer.  The community has rallied around Anthony Meyers (who had successful surgery last week) and illustrates a high-functioning Catholic school community.  The second article was the offer by the Diocese of Sacramento for free tuition for all students displaced by the devastating fires.  Well done!
  2. In the leadership section the first article by Jack Peterson of Managing for Mission is a great reflection on the President-Principal relationship. Notice the word “relationship.”  When we talk about intentionally building community, it’s important to put our organizational charts in terms of relationships.
  3. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first article by Jessica Lander “Why School Counselors Matter” is a great piece. When schools look to cut costs, the school counselor position often comes up.  Lander provides a good argument against this.
  4. The next article about personalized learning from Mind/Shift is a great reflection on the different meanings and controversies surrounding personalized learning.
  5. In the Miscellaneous section, the first article addresses the polarization in the Church right now.

Nov 21st Newsletter

Here is the link to the newsletter.  The Top 5:

  1. I offer three great articles from NCR in the American Catholic News section all on the abuse crisis. “Culture Plays Role in US Hispanics’ Muted Response to Abuse Crisis” is an interesting look at how Hispanic Catholics are viewing the current situation.  “University Panels ask How Church Should Emerge from Crisis” is more of an overview of efforts to make sense of the current situation while “Panel Examines How Church Culture Enables Abuse Crisis” is a bit of a deeper dive into the causes.
  2. I’m offering 3 of my favorite articles from this fall’s Journal of Catholic Education. Patrick Manning’s take on the Catholic imagination and disaffiliation is a fantastic read.
  3. 5 Ways Smart People Sabotage Their Success” from HBR is an interesting read because school leaders are usually turned to as the experts in the room.
  4. In the Teaching & Learning section, the first two articles are from Jennifer Gonzalez of the “Cult of Pedagogy” blog fame. Both articles are really interesting reads: “Why We Need to See Each Other Teach” is a call for teachers to observe each other and “To Learn, Students Need to DO Something” is a great message on moving away from teacher-centered instruction.
  5. In the Miscellany section, The American Council on Education issued a report on the racial unrestat the University of Missouri. It’s a long read but an interesting study of the context of the controversy as well as the fallout.

November 4th newsletter

In this week’s newsletter I blog about the problem of disaffiliation with the Church and have a number of great resources to share in this area.  Top 5:

  1. Saint Mary’s Press has gathered a number of video testimonies from young people who have left the Church.
  2. Joe Corpora wrote a great essay on the “Joy of Missing Out” for Notre Dame’s student newspaper that is worth a read.
  3. The New York Times profile of Catholics struggling with staying or leaving the Church is a great piece.
  4. The Vatican summary of the Bishop’s Synod on Young People is worth reading.
  5. In the Miscellany section, the special “12 Years of Brain Pickings” is chock full of great long reads. Maria Popova’s weekly blog is a constant source of intellectual stimulation.  You’re bound to find something interesting to read.

Oct 21st Newsletter

In today’s newsletter I tackle poor sportsmanship and the Good Samaritan.  What?  Trust me, it works in my head.  Read Cardinal Cupich’s reflection first.  I had a really tough time narrowing the articles down to the best five so I encourage you to meander through the newsletter and find something else interesting.  The Top 5:

  1. The two articles at the end of the American Catholic News section on the history of the Catholic Church (“What Happened to the Catholic Church?”) part 1 and part 2 are worth the effort.
  2. The first link in the Leadership section is entitled “The Ultimate Guide to Making Smart Decisions” and is fantastic. The Farnam Street blog discusses mental models, processes, and presents a bibliography on decision-making.  It’s a great resource.
  3. Another blogger who I regularly read is A.J. Juliani. At the beginning of the Teaching & Learning section, he writes “How to Win Friends and Influence Students” based on Dale Carnegie.  We could all use a reminder about how to build up goodwill at this time of year!
  4. The next article is entitled “Six Things Teachers Say with Good Intentions…But Shouldn’t” is a great reflection on what kinds of language works to promote learning and what doesn’t.
  5. At the end of the Miscellany section are two great articles on Fake News and a long video that is very well-done. You’ve probably heard too much about fake news and perhaps you don’t care.  But I think it’s important to stay informed and these are also great resources to share with students.  “How Private Information Helps Fake News Hoodwink the Public” and “Why Fake News Campaigns Are So Effective” are both from the University of Pennsylvania and are fascinating.  The longer video “Deepfake Videos are Getting Real and That’s a Problem” has serious implications for the future.

Oct 7th Newsletter

Here is a link to the October 7th newsletter.

I wade into the Bishop’s Synod on Young People in the blog section.  The pre-synodal documents are introduced and I also discuss a few of the controversies surrounding the synod.  On the podcast this week, I’ll talk to three theologians who will give background on the Synod as well as interpretations of the different positions.  It’s a great way to make current Church teachings relevant as they are being articulated.

Top 5:

  1. In the American Catholic news section, the first article entitled “Eight Lessons to Move Us Forward from the Sex Abuse Crisis” is a great read. It’s not about pity, not about despair, it’s about real action items that should guide us forward.  And yes, there need to be more parents in the room when decisions are being made.
  2. In the Leadership section, “Wander the Halls, Say Hello, A New Approach to School Safety” is a great reminder about the value of building relationships among teachers and students and the value of Management by Walking Around. It turns out, making your community a welcoming place where everyone feels like they belong is a great deterrent to school violence.
  3. In the Teaching & Learning section, “Helping Teachers Manage the Weight of Secondary Trauma” really hit home this week. In the American Catholic news section, I included an article about the return of normalcy at Butte Central Catholic Elementary.  Last week there were threats of violence (via email) to the school.  The weight of this trauma for teachers is substantial.  Many of our teachers have to bear this weight every day.  How are we ministering to the ministers?
  4. Great 3-minute video on “The Power of Expectations” serves as a great reminder to all of us on how expectations shape our teaching. This is from NPR’s “Invisibilia” podcast and includes an interview with Dr. Carol Dweck of growth mindset fame.
  5. In the Miscellany section, “Winner Take All: How Markets Favor the Few at the Expense of Many” is a great Farnam Street blog about how the attitude of ends justifying the means has infiltrated our mental models.

Sep 23rd Newsletter

In this week’s issue, I’m focusing on issues surrounding Native American Catholic schools, hoping to give you an introduction to the historical trauma caused by Catholic schools, a look at the current reality, and hoping to make an argument for ending the use of Indian mascots at Catholic schools (there are currently 14 American Catholic schools still using Indian mascots).  The Top 5:

  1. The Native Partnership details the history of Indian boarding schools in “American Indian Boarding Schools” which describes the “Kill the Indian, Save the Man” philosophy which dominated Indian Board Schools—including, and perhaps especially, Indian Catholic boarding schools. Native traditions were not simply ignored, they were punished.  Boys’ hair was cut, native languages were prohibited, and native religious ceremonies were outlawed.  NPR had another article in “Native American Boarding Schools Haunt Many” and NCR covered it in “Boarding Schools: A Black Hole of Native American History.”  These are the most important articles and I hope you take time to read them.
  2. There is great, important work being done at the remaining 24 Indian Catholic schools. The recent Washington Post article highlighted the great work in Indian Catholic schools and a EWTN segment also showcased the great work.
  3. The Washington Post ran a great story on how Native American mascots were proven to be harmful to Native Americans in “Sorry, Redskins fans, Native Americans mascots increase racial bias” NPR referenced the same study in “Can a Native American Mascot Cause Psychological Harm?”
  4. The National Council of American Indians came out with “Ending the Era of Harmful Indian Mascots” which included
  5. a great video entitled “Proud to Be

Sep 16th Newsletter

Here is the link to the newsletter.

This issue is laser focused on Catholic schools and its leadership challenges.  As questions about power, accountability, and transparency swirl, we are challenged to apply lessons from this crisis.  We are challenged to create collaborative decision-making cultures.  We are all challenged to think about what being part of the Church involves—what part does dissent have?  How important is ideological purity?  Which comes first, doctrine or people?  These are not easy questions and there is certainly no easy answers.

My top 5:

  1. Read about the newly opened Cristo Rey high schools in Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, and Oakland. Five more schools are in development (Las Vegas, Miami, Richmond, San Diego, and Raleigh).
  2. I’ve heard of at least two other schools in development, including one for students battling addiction in the Diocese of Allentown. I’ll have the school’s founder on the podcast in a couple of months.
  3. Finally if you want to make sure you aware of all the developments in this current crisis, I recommend this podcast, these resources from Bishop Barron, and this reflection from Archbishop Gomez.

September 9th newsletter

Happy September!  The Catholic School Matters newsletter is back!  This issue, I’m sharing the best articles and links I came across this summer.  This year, I plan to publish fewer editions of the newsletter and make them more focused on one theme.  Next week, for example, I plan to catch up on news and events from the world of Catholic schools.  I’m also revamping the podcast to give it more of a radio feel with fresh interviews recorded close to the release date and multiple guests.  The Top 5 this week:

  1. As Catholic Options Dwindle, Middle Class Retreats from Private Schools”is a must read for every Catholic leader, board member, and especially every finance council member. We are losing the middle class in our Catholic schools!
  2. Archbishop Hunthausen passed away this summer. A Montana native and former bishop in Helena, he was the last living American Bishop to sit for all 4 sessions of Vatican II. Bishop Thomas provided a homilyfor the Stational Mass in Helena and  Mike Ryan provided a colorful and poignant homily in Seattle. It’s a remarkable collection of reflections for a remarkable prelate.
  3. How do you improve schools? Start by coaching principals, says new study” in We need to move beyond a compliance model and to a formation model.
  4. Deductive vs. Inductive Reasoning: Making Smarter Arguments, Better Decisions, and Stronger Conclusions” from the Farnam Street Blog (one of the weekly blogs I faithfully read). This is a great example of the quality of articles which help you think about thinking. Another great example was this summer’s “The Feynman Technique: The Best Way to Learn Anything.” I thought about this process for a month or more.
  5. Kent Hickey has presented a great analysis and call for action in Every Catholic, Lay and Clergy, is Called to Confront the Evil of Abuse.

Educating Together in Catholic Schools: January 22, 2018

Category : Podcasts

Congregation for Catholic Education, 2007

Link to the document “Educating Together in Catholic Schools:  A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons & the Lay Faithful”

Kristin Melley, the Director of Professional Development for the Roche Center for Catholic Education at Boston College, joins the podcast to discuss the Vatican’s message found in its last document pertaining to Catholic schools.



Educating Together in Catholic Schools: A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful (Vatican, 2007)

  • Reading Questions:
    • 1: The Bishops identify “widespread phenomena” impacting education.  What are they?
    • 8: What are the two types of communion?
    • 21: What is the relationship between teacher and student formation?
    • 25: What kind of formation is essential for Catholic educators?
    • 27: What is the role of charism in formation?
    • 41: Whose “joyful witness” is essential?
    • 46: What is the school called to be?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • 2: What is different about their vision of formation?
    • 5: What is the difference between an educational community and a faith community?
    • 11: What is the relationship between communion and mission?
    • 39: Does your school educate for communion?
    • 43: What is the ultimate outcome of education for communion?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • 7: How would communion of mission change your school(s)?
    • 15: Is there a hierarchy of vocations?
    • 53: Are your students part of a communion?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes


Renewing our Commitment: January 15, 2018

Category : Podcasts

USCCB, 2005

Link to the document Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium

Most Rev. Robert Lynch, retired Bishop of St. Petersburg and former USSCB general secretary


Renewing our Commitment to Catholic Elementary & Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium (US Bishops, 2005)

  • Reading Questions:
    • Whose responsibility is the support of Catholic schools?
    • What is the fourfold purpose of Catholic education?
    • In 1999, Pope John Paul II pointed out the mission of Catholic schools.  What was it?
    • Since 1990, where has the loss of Catholic school enrollment occurred?
    • What does the research say about the success of Catholic schools?
    • What percent of our educators are lay people?
    • The Bishops point to two areas essential for the ministry of education to grow.  What are they?
  • Discussion Questions:
    • In 1990, the Bishops committed to four goals.  How have they done?
    • In the section entitled “The Face of the Church,” the Bishops point to two different realities–affluent and immigrants.  Do you see those realities in your school?
    • The Bishops call on the entire Catholic community to support Catholic schools.  Is that part of your reality?
    • Why is it important for government to ensure school choice?
    • What are Blaine amendments?  Is there one in your state?
    • Has there been a strategic plan enacted?
    • What do the bishops say about serving the poor?
  • Reflection Questions:
    • In the section entitled “the Good News,” the Bishops express gratitude for the work of Catholic school educators.  Do you feel it?
    • How effective are the 4 goals?  Have they been started/accomplished?
    • List 3-4 quotes that you could pull out from this document to use in your own communication.

 play on iTunes