As the Associate Superintendent for Leadership Formation in the Archdiocese of New York and a national consultant serving Catholic schools throughout the United States, I am often asked what makes an effective Catholic school leader. While I don’t claim to have all of the answers, I can proclaim that I have worked in thousands of Catholic schools in more than 120 of the Catholic dioceses throughout the United States and my observations are as follows:
All Effective Catholic School Leaders do these 7 things…
- Understand that the primary job of a Catholic school “and therefore the primary responsibility of the principal“ is to build disciples for Christ. Everything else is secondary.
- Encourage parents to assume their role as the primary catechists of their children. Parents cannot outsource religious instruction to schools or parish religious education programs. For better or for worse, children will follow their parents’ example.
- Recognize that they are responsible for the spiritual formation of their staffs. This means more than just the occasional diocesan formation class; it means forming them through prayer, retreats, and spiritual reading, and inviting them to participate in the faith.
- Ensure that the catechetical textbooks and materials used in their school conform to the teachings of the Catholic Church.
- Model an example of joyful faith and holiness to their staff, faculty, and students.
- Hold high expectations for all students, staff and families.
- Create a climate hospitable to education and shape a vision of academic success for all students