Category Archives: Newsletters

May 24th Newsletter

This weekend’s edition of Catholic School Matters will mark the final edition of this school year.  So I’ve put a collection of the most important COVID resources in one place as well as including some articles I’ve come across in the past week to spark some thought.

The Top 5:

  1. A group of Catholic school leaders has been working to help articulate a value proposition for Catholic schools during uncertain times. Here is the Executive Summary, designed to be put in the hands of Catholic school leaders on the front lines.  What are the themes that will resonate right now?  Print it out, email it, help distribute this great resource.
  2. The Greeley Center published a great planning guide for Catholic schools “Leading with Hope.” It’s the best planning guide I’ve seen.
  3. I also included links to the Montana Catholic Schools policy guidelines as well as the Diocese of Sacramento’s reentry template. These should help with your planning.
  4. I include an NCR article about how St. Michael Indian School is serving the Navajo in this time of need. I’m not seeing enough stories about how the Church is extending its hand to serve—instead I’m seeing too many stories about how the Church is holding up its hand to receive help.  The field hospital should be our metaphors, says Pope Francis, serving those most in need.
  5. The Deloitte article about resilient leadership in this time of crisis is well worth considering.

May 17th Newsletter

In this week’s newsletter, I’m focusing a bit on testifying and sharing the good news of your schools.  I’ve also connected some great resources and here is the Top 5:

  1. The Journal of Catholic Education is offering a special rolling COVID issue. The first two articles have been posted.  They are both articles from Dr. Quentin Wodon, lead economist at the World Bank affiliated with Notre Dame, and discuss the immediate impact of the COVID crisis on American and international Catholic schools.  They are extensive, thorough articles with fascinating data.
  2. In the midst of this pandemic, it’s worth your time to read about a Supreme Court case about employment law and the ministerial exemption. There’s a story from America magazine, from the New York Times, and LA Times.  We might see some radical changes.
  3. Watch this great interview with Jill Kafka from Partnership Schools. She says, “Catholic schools are pulling people together as the world is falling apart.”
  4. In the Educational Links, the first article is a deep dive on curriculum. It’s part 2 of a four-part series and it’s worth your time to consider how we adapt to our new reality.
  5. Don’t miss these…The CDC has published a decision tree for reopening schoolsand daycare facilities. Johns Hopkins Center for Educational Policy has released a planning guide for next year.  It’s really well done and worth printing out and sharing.

May 10th Newsletter

The Newsletter can be found here.  This week’s top 5:

  1. The first article focuses on three possible futures for COVID-19. No one knows what the future holds but I’ve yet to talk to anyone in education who doesn’t think it’s going to impact school operations this fall.
  2. The second article discusses the latest research regarding whether children can suffer from and transmit the virus.
  3. The next article from Kathleen Porter-Magee of Partnership Schools discusses planning implications for next year. There are a number of great projects for Catholic school leaders bubbling up and this blog post is the tip of the spear.
  4. There are three great articles on how schools are (creatively) dealing with graduation. The first discusses James Madison High in NYC, another focuses on creative ways principals are reaching out to their graduates, and a third highlights the faculty visits by one New York Catholic high school.  Let’s get out and (safely) visit our graduates!
  5. I’ve been working on a new curated list of resources to include the following categories: technology professional learning, remote learning PD, resources for teachers, and resources for home learning.

May 3rd Newsletter

It’s Sunday again which means another edition of Catholic School Matters tackling the confusing reality of planning for the fall.  I think that’s the block of ice we’re all trying to carve into a masterpiece before it melts.  I say “Sunday again” because I find myself looking at the calendar more often just to remind myself what day it is.

This week, Frank Donaldson of ISPD is the sponsor and I highlight some of his summer online classes through University of Dayton to assist leaders through this crisis.  This week’s Catholic School Matters podcast features one long-form conversation with Tom Barrett, the Aussie blogger and consultant who I’ve been following for years.

The Top 5 for this week:

  1. The first two links both follow the same theme. “Who will we become after the coronavirus?” in America magazine by Sister Rosemarie Nassif of LMU tackles the impact of resilience and “Pandemic sparks creativity” in Crux also discusses the response by innovative Catholic educators like John Galvan and Julie Cantillon in San Diego.
  2. The “Letter from the Holy Father” presents two new prayers for the pandemic and a call for the rosary this month. Lately there have been quite a few stories about the race for a vaccine.  Even if a vaccine is discovered, the choices about how to distribute, etc. need clear direction.  We have much to pray for.
  3. In the Education Links section, the first article “Why are some kids thriving during remote learning?” from Edutopia is a great article. We tend to see stories about who is being left behind, who is disconnected from education, how much education is being lost, and how exhausted we all are.  But it’s important for a minute to consider that some students (and teachers) are thriving.  Why?  And what does say about our traditional educational environment?
  4. The next two links are what I’ve been waiting for? I really haven’t seen many good ideas about how to deal with graduation and end of year rituals.  The Edutopia article “Four Ways to Celebrate Graduation” and the NY Times article “High School seniors are making yearbooks on Instagram” also highlights creativity.
  5. In the Miscellany section, the first two articles are about the taxing nature of Zoom calls aka “Zoom Fatigue.” This is certainly part of my reality and it’s nice to come across some research that confirms what I’ve been experiencing.  I’m finding the old-fashioned phone call is usually more productive.  Perhaps we’ll see an article about bringing back the telegram.

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.

March 29th newsletter

The week has been spent focusing on Coronavirus matters—operational questions, HR questions, cash flow questions, remote learning issues, closures, etc.  So, again, I’m sharing some of the best articles in this week’s newsletter that I came across to give you a little food for thought and a sense of connection to others who are struggling to make sense of their new realities.  The Top 5 (all listed at the top of the links):

  1. Brene Brown’s great blog post “Collective Vulnerability, the FFTs of Online Learning, and the Sacredness of Bored Kids” really struck a nerve. Check out this quote: “how hard it is to be new at things – from small things to global pandemics. When we have no relevant experience or expertise, the vulnerability, uncertainty, and fear of these firsts can be overwhelming.”  Aren’t we all feeling a bit of this vulnerability?  Trying something new, not feeling entirely comfortable at what we’re doing.
  2. The HBR article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” has become one of their most popular articles for good reason. We have all lost a little something and we need to recognize it.
  3. Chris Lehmann’s “Doing School in the Time of Coronavirus” is a great article born out of his experience when his school was shut down earlier this year.
  4. Tom Barrett also came through again with another great article, “The Post Corona World.” This is about strategic thinking.  Can you imagine a good outcome to your school after this crisis?
  5. Deborah Cohan presented some great thoughts on the struggle to set up a remote learning experience for her students in “What Do We Need to Teach Now?” It’s a look at how teachers need to balance the technological learning curve, the reality of their own lives, the place where the students are, and the need to teach what’s important.

March 22nd newsletter

My past week was dominated by Coronavirus concerns so in this week’s newsletter I’m going to share the resources and articles I found valuable.  The Top 5:

  1. In the first section, Fr. Joe Corpora from Notre Dame has written a poignant piece on navigating this crisis: “Being Mercy, Salvation, and the Laundry Left Undone” is simply wonderful.
  2. Later in that section, to remind yourself why we’re doing this, make sure to read the Imperial College report which changed everything, or the “Extraordinary decisions” article about Italian hospitals.
  3. In the Operational Resources section, Dr. Julie Cantillon and the Diocese of San Diego Catholic schools team has put together a super website with resources for remote learning. Check it out and sign up for her daily updates.
  4. In the Religion Resource section, I’ve come across a number of great resources for religious content (Formed, Word on Fire, Sadlier) but the best is the Diocese of Grand Rapids. It’s what church looks like during this difficult time.
  5. In the last section on Crisis & Communication, the HBR article “Build Your Resilience in the Face of a Crisis” is a great reflection. Call this what it is (a crisis) and look to learn to improve your skills navigating.

Be safe and be courageous.  We need great leaders now more than ever.