Category: Catholic (page 1 of 6)

10 Ways to Enhance a School Leader’s Spiritual Life

Here are ten ways to enhance a school leader’s spiritual life by using beauty while having a conversation with God.

 

  1. Find a beautiful church to sit in. If magnificent cathedrals feel overwhelming or there are none nearby, find one with simple beauty—a statue, painting, stained glass windows, stations of the cross, crucifix, or beautiful tabernacle that you can soak in while in the presence of God.
  1. Use nature. Research shows that nature has a calming effect on us. Find a place to experience that—a forest, a mountain view, a creek, a garden…even a snow hill sparkling in the sunlight. Thank God for his care that he even provides for our senses.
  1. Art. Go to a museum, watch a video about art, look up beautiful art in the library on the Internet, sit before a picture in your home that you enjoy. Consider the talent God gives to people so to give glory to him and enjoyment to us.
  1. Music. There is a reason we say to “lift your voices.” Beautiful music seems to rise to heaven as it also lifts our spirits. Sacred music, glory and praise, choir, or beautiful symphonies, can lift our spirits to the harmony of our soul in union with God.
  1. Books. Look back over favorite book that have lifted your spirit. The Bible is a good start. Ask friend what their favorite book are. Order books you have always wanted to read.
  1. Find a beautiful prayer book. The prayers and litanies—old, new, and from the Mass—offer spiritual beauty in a book that lifts the senses just holding and looking at.
  1. Plan a pilgrimage to a holy site or take a simple car trip. Traveling to beautiful and holy places feeds the spirit and a sense of adventure at the same time. Since there are such places throughout the country, there may be something very near to you.
  1. Watch an inspirational movie. There are endless stories, documentaries, and lives of the saints on video or online.
  1. Get a beautiful rosary. Of course, it is not necessary because prayer is communication with God from the heart. Sometimes, I use a simple rosary finger ring, but a beautiful rosary adds an element of enjoyment by engaging my senses.
  1. Focus on your faculty/staff directory and pray for each staff member and their family – one at a time.

Looking Back at Catholic Schools Week

When the 17th-century poet John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself….,” he expressed profoundly the intrinsic need of all people to feel that they belong to something larger than themselves. Students who attend Catholic schools have this unifying sense of belonging with their common Catholic faith. In celebration of this religious unity and faith-based education, Catholic schools across the country designate one week as Catholic Schools Week, a tradition begun in 1974.

Catholic Schools Week is a commemorative and charitable time for students as they renew their faith by engaging in activities in which they share with others their love of God and their Catholic beliefs. This week is also a unifying week as students come to understand that they are part of the Catholic community as well as the community of man. During this time, teachers strive to engage students in prayer and activities that remind the pupils that they are receiving a thorough education, for it is one of the mind, body and soul.

Many of the Catholic schools involve their students in acts of charity as students spend their time in giving back to their communities. For instance, students may participate in a service program in the parish hall or cafeteria where they make sandwiches for the homeless. Or, they can put together packages for those in military service away from home. They may also compose letters to the sick or aged. Mentorship is another charitable program in which older students share the Gospel with younger ones. As mentors, the older students engage the younger students in interesting activities involving prayer. These mentors can also invite candidates for their first Communion to a “prayer-a-thon” in which the younger students are taught traditional prayers in preparation for receiving Holy Communion.

Lynn Schultz, principal at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school, said faith is “permeated throughout the entire school culture.” She added,“It’s important for our students to celebrate the value of education, not just the really high focus on learning and personal growth, but the focus on being able to grow in their faith.” Catholic Schools Week underscores this spiritual focus. Concurring with what Principal Schultz observes, Trish Wallinger, a principal at a school named St. Mary’s, notes that Catholic schools nurture all parts of a child: the mind, the body, and the soul. “Sending your child to a school where a rigorous program is paired with being lovingly taught about being a disciple of Christ is a wonderful gift to give your child,” observes Principal Wallinger.

Distinguished Teachers Invited to Apply for Curran Fellowship

Originally published by Dan Pietrafesa on  CNY.org

Vera Parnese is humbled and appreciative to be one of more than 40 distinguished honorees recognized at an Evening of Teacher Recognition and Call to Discernment hosted by the archdiocese’s Superintendent of Schools office at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan Jan. 24.

The honorees received an invitation to apply for a Curran Fellowship in the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy, which offers each fellow the opportunity to return to college to study to become a school principal.

“I’ve never considered that type of vocation. For someone to have faith in me that I can fulfill that role and to consider it spiritually is unbelievable to me,” said Ms. Parnese, a teacher at St. Charles School on Staten Island for 17 years who was nominated by her principal, John Kiernan.

“I’ve always been fascinated with learning,” she told CNY. “It’s an ongoing process, and what’s interesting is you’re continually evolving. Growth never stops. It’s a continuous process.”

Teachers and principals mingled for about 30 minutes before going into a conference room to watch an archdiocesan video about serving as a Catholic school principal. They were recognized by Dr. Timothy McNiff, superintendent of schools in the archdiocese, and Steven Virgadamo, an associate superintendent who oversees the leadership academy.

“The best way to find a new principal is right in our own backyard with our good teachers,” Dr. McNiff said. “We want to plant a seed tonight to thank them for what they’re doing, but there are other opportunities and challenges. We’d like them to think about that. This is so important we ask their spouse to come because this is a family decision that we’re asking them to do.”

Virgadamo said the leadership academy and the teacher recognition evening continue to flourish.

“This is our fourth year of doing this. So what we’re starting to see is there are individuals who have been nominated and have gone through the program that are now willing to nominate others,” Virgadamo said.

“Even individuals who don’t go to leadership, this is an opportunity to recognize the teachers in our schools who not only make a contribution every single day to see that young people encounter the risen Christ. They are going above and beyond their classroom duties to make sure the ministry of Catholic education is being fulfilled, not just for their students but their families.”

GinaMarie Fonte, principal of Resurrection School in Rye, was one of the first to go through the leadership program and is now nominating her teachers.

“It’s a wonderful job, and I think that if you have it in your heart to do this job, it’s definitely a calling. If you work hard, you will have a wonderful experience and a wonderful school.”

Jon Frega is a first-year principal of St. Elizabeth School in Manhattan and will begin taking classes as a member of the leadership academy in the fall. He nominated a teacher for the next leadership academy class.

“It’s an amazing opportunity. I’m really excited to go back to school,” he said.

Gillian Burgain and David Ellis have taught a combined 40 years at St. Mark the Evangelist School in Manhattan. Both were honored and invited to apply for a fellowship.

“We love (what we do) and this is what God put us on earth to do,” Ellis said.

Michelle Palmieri has taught at Our Lady Star of the Sea School on Staten Island for 18 years and was nominated by her principal, Jeannine Roland.

“It’s such an honor to be here,” said Ms. Palmieri, the mother of three children. “I’m going to look into the academy, talk about it with my husband and think about our future.

“I love what I do. I go to work happy every morning.”

Leadership Coaching, Catholic Schools and 4 Strategies To Make It More Impactful

Currently, Catholic Schools are operating in an era where the level of competition is very high. For a private school to remain competitive, it has to implement important strategies that will help overcome competition, or to at least remain competitive enough. One of these strategies is leadership coaching, where the leader impacts his or her workers by teaching them the instructional and classroom management skills, student/parent relationship skills and the knowledge to perform their jobs well.

While many have questioned the effectiveness of leadership coaching I remain steadfast that the single factor between a school which is thriving and one which is struggling is leadership. It is for that reason that I remain committed to providing Catholic school leaders, Principals, Presidents  and Superintendents with timely and consistent leadership coaching and mentoring. Here are some strategies that can be used to make leadership coaching effective.

  1. Being Specific

One of the most important aspects of leadership coaching is specificity. As a leader, you must ensure that whatever is being told to all employees (teachers and staff) working within the school is precise and exact. A leader should not leave his or her employees in the dark or worse, confused as to what is being asked of them. Demonstrating and modeling behaviors should also be incorporated so that employees may get a visual representation of the task, making it much clearer.

  1. Provide Positive Feedback

A common mistake among a large number of leaders is concentrating on and criticizing individual flaws and weaknesses. Some have been misunderstanding elements of personal styles and confusing them for a lack of personal motivation. To enhance the effectiveness of leadership coaching, one should provide positive feedback on individual strengths. Leaders should also be cognizant of how they are describing what they want an individual to achieve, such as the desired outcomes and deliverables.

  1. Being Concise

Using too many words to describe something that could have been described with just a few can lead to ineffective coaching as well. While in a leadership position, one should make it a point to be brief and concise when providing instructions to followers. A leader should focus on being direct while at the same time providing clear, easy-to-understand instructions. Doing so will promote memorability and understanding of what it is these employees must do, lessening the chances of frequent mistakes.

  1. Establishing Trust and Goodwill

For leaders to effectively promote and enhance their coaching abilities, establishing goodwill and trust is of paramount importance. Leaders must be humble and should not assume superiority or come off as self-entitled. They should focus on being sources of assistance and leading by example. They should focus on their duties while at the same time demonstrating high levels of integrity. Other employees are likely to trust and believe in their leader if he or she demonstrates the ability to successfully manage large teams, absorb chaos and give back calm while guiding staff throughout all obstacles presented.

Catholic Books to Add to Your Reading List

Expanding your spirituality and knowledge of the Catholic faith is something that every individual can do regardless their level of expertise. A great way to just that is by reading any number of books focusing on Catholicism and its many ideas and foundations. Below are a few Catholic books to add to your reading for those who would like better their knowledge on the religion.

Catholic Treasury of Prayers

A collection of prayers devoted to Mass, the PSalms, and Our Blessed Mother St. Joseph, Catholic Treasury of Prayers is a very helpful volume for those who may be unfamiliar with the many prayers embodied in this religion. This book can accompany people on their journey to becoming a more faithful individual, and can serve as a resource for all.

No Greater Love

No Greater Love captures the endless wisdom of Mother Teresa, which includes all of her teachings in an autobiographical form. It sends a powerful message to its readers on the importance of living with humility and helping those in need. It also features Mother Teresa’s thoughts on the concepts of love, generosity, forgiveness, and prayer. This is a great piece of written work that celebrates the life of one of the most revered figures in human history.

The Seven Storey Mountain

Written by Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain is often regarded as one of the most influential religious works of the 20th century. It tells the story of Merton and his search for peace and faith, and gives its readers incredible wisdom and insight regarding suffering, selfishness, and the ultimate goal of spiritual perfection. Today, it is published in over 20 languages and sold around the world.

Beautiful Mercy

This work was written by Pope Francis, Matthew Kelly, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and several other Catholic authors. Beautiful Mercy is a collection of essays that are essentially a call to action for readers to live out the Corporal and Spiritual Acts of Mercy during the Church’s Year of Mercy. Pope Francis specifically has asked that people focus their attention on this year’s mercy in an attempt to inspire more and celebrate this tradition in meaningful ways.

The Story of a Soul

Saint Therese of Lisieux was a nun in the 19th century who, sadly, died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis. The Story of a Soul is an autobiographical piece of hers that includes her childhood memories growing up Northwestern France. What started as a simple biography became a modern spiritual classic. Decades later, more manuscripts of the Saint’s were discovered, which included more in-depth takes on her spirituality, love, and devotion to God. Saint Therese is a perfect example of one that has devoted her life to holiness, simplicity, and faith.

Funding Within the Catholic School System

Currently, Catholic schools are facing a financial crisis, brought about by an unmet need for funding. Government funding and donations from philanthropists do help, but it’s not nearly enough to offset the costs associated with educating each school’s children. This leaves the bulk of funding to come from the only other available source: tuition. While that seems like the obvious solution, the ways in which tuition is applied may be doing more harm than good.

The Dilemma with the Current Tuition Model

Catholic schools are caught in a tough spot right now, due to their dependence upon tuition to fund the system. Currently, tuition is based on the number of children attending the school. In the per student model, a family with five students will be paying five times more than a family with just one child. The problem with this is that the family with five children is already paying a higher percentage of their earnings to provide those children with other necessities, such as food, clothing, and healthcare. Unless they’re wealthy, that family will see the burden of tuition as an added hardship.

The problem doesn’t just affect that one family. Looking for ways to cut corners, even a devout Catholic family may find themselves forced to send their children to public schools. The burden of tuition may be lifted, but the children aren’t getting the education that the family wants for them. As more families make this same choice, enrollment in Catholic schools will suffer. Ultimately, Catholic schools will become more akin to elite private schools, where only single-child families will enroll.

A New Tuition Model

While the situation seems dire, there is a solution that has been proposed and it’s one that embraces the giving nature of the Catholic faith. The idea is to switch from a per student tuition model to a per family model, which would have every family paying the same for tuition. It would lighten the burden on families with multiple children attending the school, allowing them.to pay one smaller tuition.

In general, families would be paying just a few hundred per year as opposed to the thousands of dollars they would otherwise have to pay. This also means that single-child households may be paying a little more. However, an increase of a couple hundred is still far more easily managed than tuition costs of $5,000 or more per year.

It seems obvious that the current method for funding Catholic schools isn’t sustainable as a long-term solution. By amending the way tuition is applied to each family, more children will be able to remain in their school of choice. That’s better for the children, for their families, and for the Catholic schools seeking to provide a better educational experience.

 

Source: https://catholicexchange.com/blueprint-for-change-funding-catholic-schools

How to Teach Your Children Faith at Home

While Catholic schools are prime mediums for explaining religion and the importance of faith to students, doing so at home should be seen as an equally importance practice. Many parents may find it difficult or overwhelming teaching faith at home seeing as the church explains to students that their parents are their “first and foremost educators,” but the following strategies are a few simple ways families can incorporate faith into their personal lives a little bit more.

Pray as Family

Prayer nurtures the life of the family. It opens hearts, melts away resentments, fosters gratitude, and becomes a fount of grace, peace, and joy for the entire family. If parents love God, children see and learn faith. Parents who pray together teach by the way they live that God is real; that He is present, listening, and eager to be a part of our lives. A life of prayer makes us fully human because it makes us real; it brings us out of ourselves, again and again, into conversation with the Author of life Himself — the God who made and loves us, and created everything we know. (Archbishop Charles Chaput)

Explain Holidays and Traditions

Very rarely do children not get excited for upcoming holidays, whether that be Christmas, Easter, or any other. Gifts and decorations adorn their homes, and family members often come together to celebrate these joyous times. While all of this is certainly beneficial to a child’s growth, explaining the reasons behind why we practice these holidays can build a greater appreciation for his or her faith.

It is frequently said that practicing faith keeps us faithful. Lent, for example, is a great way to practice discipline through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Whether you as a family are giving up junk food, video games, or any unhealthy habits, it makes time for more beneficial acts, such as taking part in local charities.

Even so much as detailing the history of these practices can give a child a deeper appreciation for their faith. For example, explaining that Easter is a day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ could familiarize them with the New Testament a little more.

Hold Open Discussions

Do not be afraid to answer any difficult questions your children may ask. Being so young, this topic can be confusing to them and difficult to understand. The concepts of Heaven and an afterlife in general may drum up various concerns. Rather than avoiding answering these questions, ask your children how they feel about these topics. Answer every moral question as truthfully as you can. Being open and transparent about the faith is the best way for children to better understand it.

Similarly, the reasoning behind why you don’t want your children taking part in certain activities should be clearly outlined as well. Say your child was recently given a computer, on which they have the entire internet at their fingertips. Instead of simply telling them, “You are not allowed to visit these sites,” explain why. They may disrespect your beliefs or promote violent, aggressive behavior. Telling them no will only lead to them searching for other ways to access those sites. Be open and honest at all times.

The Catholic Church in the US

Some say the Catholic Church is in decline and yet others say it is a Church in hospice. It is true the U.S. Church has experienced about a 3% decline in the last ten years confirmed by two massive PEW studies … and a decline in religious vocations, but don’t be too quick to rush to judgement without carefully considering the data. Most of the Church closures are old inner-city parishes where the demographics are changing. Many of these inner city parishes were established in close proximity in the late 1800’s as each was founded to minister to a particular immigrant population – Irish – Italian – Polish etc. Today, 49% of Catholic adults have a graduate college degree, make an above average income and very few experience protracted periods of unemployment. And, most do not live in the inner cities.

Catholics in the suburban parishes are doing just fine … and there has been no aggregate decline in the number of baptized Catholics who routinely attend Mass in the last 50 years. All these demographics correlate neatly with Catholic fertility rates … the aggregate baptized Catholic population fluctuates over decades between 23% to 27% of the U.S. population.

Catholic schools continue to maintain a presence in the inner cities to serve the urban poor and often the new immigrant population because they are Catholic and education is a path to breaking a cycle of poverty.

Spring and Getting Your Students Outside

If you are a teacher feeling the strain of third quarter and searching for the elusive fourth quarter of your school year to arrive, there is hope. Although you have been trapped inside with your students, the spring weather gives you opportunity to get your students outside, either during class projects or for homework. Here are ten outdoor assignments, categorized by subject matter, that both teachers and students can enjoy:

 

English Language Arts

 

  1. Write haiku poems which are usually about elements of nature. A haiku is a succinct style of poetry that should have only three lines and include exactly five, seven and then five syllables per line.
  2. Try poetry written in the imagist style to capture specific, simple pieces of nature. This assignment works especially well when studying American Literature because of the origins and history of imagism.
  3. Practice using descriptive language and literary devices to describe the outdoor setting. Teachers could require students to include their observations from all five senses and to use a set number of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, alliteration and symbolism.

 

Science

 

  1. Search for unique rocks, and then categorize them as igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic. Teachers could encourage a chart or table be designed and presented.
  2. Teach students how to safely catch and preserve or to catch and release insects; then practice classifying each insect based on its taxonomy.
  3. Ask for observations in a journal or report that describe the habitat of squirrels, birds or other animals in the area. This assignment could also include students classifying the animals or studying the entire ecosystem.

 

Math

 

  1. For preschool classes, help students collect a designated number of rocks and leaves with which to practice counting.
  2. For elementary classes, ask students to gather a certain number of items, then practice adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing the assortments during whole-group instruction. You could also demonstrate using fractions with their outdoor collections.

 

Social Studies

 

  1. Assign students a diorama showing their grasp of a historical event, and have them make a list of supplies they need; then go outside to gather a portion of their supplies.
  2. Have older students observe others at a park and report back on social structure, group behavior, gender roles and social norms. Adapt this exercise as needed for various sociology and psychology topics.

 

Indeed, springtime provides a unique season for students to explore and learn hands-on. Perhaps you are a teacher trying to engage students who learn best in a kinesthetic or tactile way; here’s your chance to add to your typical lessons and interest students even more. Encourage your students’ development by trying these creative and fun academic exercises.

 

Avoiding Teacher Burnout

It is estimated that 15.7 percent of teachers leave their jobs every year. Burnout is one of the top reasons that people quit their jobs. Fortunately, teacher burnout is something that can be prevented.

 

Take Care Of Your Health

Being a teacher can be physically and emotionally demanding. Fortunately, you can prepare your body for these demands by taking care of your health. Make sure that you eat a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Try to sleep for seven to eight hours every night. Additionally, you should schedule at least 30 minutes of exercise in your day.

 

Maintain Your Social Life

Many people completely devote themselves to teaching. They spend all day in the classroom. When they go home, they spend all of their time planning for the next day. While teaching will take up a lot of your time, it is important for you to maintain your social life. Devoting all of your time to teaching will eventually lead to burnout.

Hang out with your family members and friends. Plan a weekend trip every now and then. Spending time with the people you love will help you recharge and focus.

 

Have Fun With Your Class

Teachers do not have to be serious all of the time. Making learning fun will make things better for you and your students. Sharing stories, brain teasers and puzzles are great ways for students to have fun while they are learning. In fact, many students get more out of stories, puzzles and brain teasers than they do out of long lectures.

 

Find Support

Sometimes, all you need is the support of your co-workers, family members and friends. They can help guide you and tell you about what you need to do to alleviate your stress. Your support team can also help you complete some of your daily tasks.

 

Set Limits

As a teacher, you may feel as though you have to complete everything on your to-do list. However, it is okay to say no sometimes. Do not feel obligated to take on additional tasks that you know that you do not have the time to do. If you have too much on your plate, then tell someone. Setting limits is one of the best ways to avoid burnout.

 

Teachers have a time-consuming and demanding profession. That is why teacher burnout may seem inevitable. Fortunately, taking the time to properly plan and care for yourself will help you avoid burnout.