Tag: education (page 1 of 5)

How Flexible Education Fosters Confidence in Students

The educational system has always been based on students learning by curriculum handed down from top officials. Students don’t get too much of a say regarding their studies, as what they are taught is often decided by local and state officials based on mandates. However, things are shifting to a more client-driven system. Many school districts and colleges throughout the globe want to personalize these crucial educational years for students. But, how can they accomplish this significant undertaking? Dual-credit courses might just be the answer.

Dual-Credit Courses Customize the Learning Experience

Using this new and revolutionary learning method is shaking up schools across the country. With dual-credit courses, high school students can take college classes for free at local universities. This saves them time and money on post-secondary education.

Many students don’t have the money to pay for college, and they may not know all the options available to them. Some may look to community college, but even these learning centers require money, and paying for classes is a big undertaking. Giving younger students educational options to try an array of different things can help secure the future of the country.

High School Students are Embracing These Programs

One reason why these programs are being highly favored is that students have the chance to try college courses before they enroll and spend thousands of dollars. Some students know that they cannot afford college, and, therefore, hardly entertain the idea of post-education services. What if they spend all that money only to realize that college is not for them? It’s a costly lesson.

Studies show that kids who attend college or take college courses during high school are more likely to fully complete their education. With these programs, students can immerse themselves in college life early. They get some higher education schooling under their belt for free, which means that should they decide to pursue their education further, getting a degree will cost less.

Areas in which the dual-credit models have seen success can thank the partnerships formed between colleges and high schools. Working together is essential. No longer does someone at the board call the shots for the needs of the students. Together, the schools collaborate to develop course structures based on what the students specifically need and want. The goal is that each student moves on seamlessly from high school to college, or the workforce.

The fact that not every student will pursue post-secondary education is okay. Still, this program gives them experience and training for where they are at that moment, and it lays the groundwork for future success.

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.”

Utilizing Social Media in Catholic Schools

Integrating social media within a school system is no easy task. It takes consistent effort to keep pages updated with current information, and determination to spread the word about a school’s latest happenings. Catholic schools are no different. Social media is the modern key to spreading awareness about brands, so it shouldn’t be avoided by any means. It can help educate those outside of the school system, and possibly bring in new students from all around.

But, how exactly does a Catholic school integrate social media into their day-to-day operations? Simply put: with time and planning.

Search for your School

Utilize all search engines and prominent social media pages to find out what third-party information has been uploaded to the internet recently. This will give you an idea of your school’s public persona as it appears online, or, in other words, a foundation to begin with. With how easily accessible public information is today (thanks in large part due to social media), it this shouldn’t be too challenging of a task.


Now you can begin working on your strategy. After doing some research, it should be clear what the general goals of a school social media page are. Perhaps the school needs to be seen in better light. Perhaps a social media page would create better communication between students, teachers, and parents. In the beginning, it is okay to focus on just one or two goals. However, those running the social media accounts will want to use the internet to their full advantage, and the school itself would be wise to brand itself as a social media-savvy educational hub.

Hire a Social Media Manager

This does not have to necessarily be a professional in the social media marketing industry, but rather an individual experienced enough in the world of social media to understand the fundamental needs and goals. This person will be responsible for the upkeep of the school’s social media pages, responding to messages and inquiries about the school as well.

Plan Ahead

It is important to know what, where, and when you are going to post ahead of time, so being several weeks ahead is an advantage for all social media managers. This gives your pages and profiles plenty of time to prepare and perfect their posts. The social media manager should be knowledgeable about the schedule for school events, for example, so they can keep everyone updated online.

Catholic Schools and Their Influence on Educational Decisions

In the United States, Catholic schools educate more than two million students who come from affluent, middle class and economically challenged neighborhoods. Since their beginnings, Catholic schools have served many ethnic communities such as the Irish, Italian, German, Latino, African-American and Polish immigrants. These schools have also been in areas where there are underprivileged children such as New York, Boston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Chicago.

With the implementation of school choice programs designed for culturally and economically disadvantaged children, Catholic schools in more than twenty states and or school districts now receive public funding. That these church-related schools receive public funds is, however, a cause of concern for some  who perceive this arrangement as detrimental to the educational choice movement. However, studies have revealed that this fear of Catholic schools’ preventing others from receiving the benefits of the school choice movement is unfounded.

Catholic school funding is not out of proportion

Catholic Education Partners studied data for 16 scholarship tax credit and 12 voucher programs that were run in 20 states. These credits and programs amounted to $1.8 billion of the $2.2 billion allotted for nationwide private school choice. The majority of Catholic schools among these 20 states that were surveyed showed voucher program enrollments of under 40% of their total enrollment. Therefore, these enrollments are in proportion to those of other private schools that receive public funds.

Catholic Schools enable students to succeed

With such public funding, Catholic schools contribute greatly to the success of many economically disadvantaged students. For instance, 99.1 percent of students in Catholic high schools graduate and 84.7 percent go on to college. One reason for this success may be that no matter whether students are in the inner city or the suburbs, the philosophy of Catholic schools is to instruct and develop the whole person.

Enabling children from low-income areas to attend Catholic schools has done much to improve their moral and civic character since Catholic school  teachers are not restricted by state mandates and have myriad opportunities to address character development. By working with students, the teachers in Catholic schools demonstrate their concern for the students as individuals. In numerous cases, such character development and improvement have been shown to correlate with students’ scholastic successes.

Having worked in both public and religious schools, Executive Director of the Department of Secondary Schools at the National Catholic Educational Association, Philip B. Robey contends that more data-oriented public schools lose sight of developing the individuality of each student; an essential part of educating. Catholic schools strive to educate the whole child and are successful for doing so.

Screentime in the Classroom: A Benefit or a Distraction?

Parents and teachers alike are sometimes worried that kids and students are spending far too much time looking at screens, and far too little time actually learning and reading. Naturally, the value of a screen depends on what is being displayed, but parents and teachers have a point. Children almost always expect to see smartphones and devices as sources of entertainment, and will oftentimes interpret screens used as educational tools as no more than entertainment with poorer quality.

The solution to this problem requires some creative thinking along with adults willing to give kids some room to experiment. Everyone is headed for the same destination. We just have different ways of getting there.


Children are naturally creative. This is one of the reasons why they are drawn to screens in the first place. Games, animation, and the freedom of choice are the three things screens give them. What adults should do in order to channel those interests productively is show kids how to be creative without a screen.

What if students could learn to make games and animation themselves? What if they were allowed to discover new things without looking them up first? Such experiences could inspire them to try newer, potentially greater things.

Educational Tools

Much emphasis has been put on STEM education of late, otherwise known as a combination of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The biggest obstacle to these subjects is the fact that not all adults understand them, and even fewer can describe how to use electronic devices in order to effectively teach them.

Computer programming is a great example of this. Educators have placed a decent amount of value on teaching children how to “code.” Meanwhile, there are only five states with an official computer curriculum in the United States. How can children use screens productively if they provide no educational value?


Electronic books were invented decades ago, but were recently perfected within the last 10-15 years. It is now possible to carry the contents of an elementary school library around in a device the size of an actual book. How many educational institutions are taking advantage of this technology? If students and kids were looking at a screen with quality reading material on it, would that be preferable to random videos and distractions? How might carrying hundreds of books around all day change the life of the average elementary or junior high school student?

Screens are becoming an increasingly important aspect of education. Given how much smartphones and tablets are being used throughout the world on a daily basis, it’s only fitting that they become integral parts of the classroom. It is then up to educators and parents to ensure that what is being displayed on those screens is beneficial for the growth and development of the children using them.

Steven Virgadamo Offers Parents Tips on Fall Semester, Lunch and Student Focus

By the time November rolls around, many parents are frustrated that an elementary school child is not eating well at school. Many have already succumbed to that ever-tempting “lunchables” and a bag of chips. Never forget that a child’s meal is a building block to their health and academic success in school.

Here are a few tips to packing a nutritious lunch that kids love:

  1. If you are packing a sandwich, use whole grain bread. The bread must have 3 or more grams of pure fiber to be“true” whole grain bread.
  2. Package the lunch to look like the popular off-the-shelf items like “lunchables.” Cut sandwiches into fun shapes like hearts and flowers.
  3. If your scholar won’t eat a sandwich, try nutrient dense muffins. You take any basic muffin recipe and use gluten free flour and coconut sugar. Add veggies like carrots, celery etc.
  4. Be sure to include fruit like grapes, apples and bananas.
  5. Make a trail mix – nut free of course – but you can include things like raisins, dried apples, berries and you can even add some dark organic chocolate chips.
  6. Ditch the juice and replace with water. Add some food coloring if you need to make a more desirable presentation.

Meals rich in fiber are proven to satisfy hunger which will allow young scholars to focus better on school work. Whole foods for scholars will instill overall well-being and lifelong healthy eating habits. Most importantly, practice what you preach. If your children see you eating well, they too will grow up eating well.

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.

Education Technologies of the Future

Technology continues to be an ever growing aspect of our lives. While it is not so surprising to see how it impacts certain parts of our daily lives, most seem quite shocked when they hear how technology continues to have a major influence in the world of education.

Learning within the classroom is constantly changing as technology shapes the way that people are able to study and grow. Virtual reality and adaptive learning in general is continuing to make its presence known across the country in classrooms.

With technology steadily improving, virtual reality classrooms are now used to help with the learning process. This type of technology in the field of education is able to help draw students in, and get them involved with hands on learning. This type of virtual reality technology sometimes even has the capability to take over as the teacher itself. Many online schools and courses are able to use this type of technology where students have access to it any time of day right from their computer or mobile device. This helps to permit learning at any time of day or not right from the comfort of their home.

Educational robotics have continued to become more popular and will steadily trend upwards in the future as well. The Lego Group, which invented the first educational robotics, set the pace when they developed the Mindstorms brand in the eighties. Today, many companies have bounced off of this idea and created other aspects of educational robotics for various different subjects. Just a few examples of these include Ozobot, Cubelets, or Dash and Dot, which all allow students to tap into their creative side and learn.

Intelligent mentoring is also very accessible and will continue to grow even more popular in the future of education. These types of intelligent tutors via technology take the place of a normal teacher and are able to assist in the learning process of students. A fantastic example of this is Duolingo which is a foreign language program that helps students learn a brand new language. The mentoring system is able to pick up on any type of errors the student makes and helps to correct them so they are able to understand what they did wrong. As technology continues to thrive and become more widespread, intelligent mentoring will grow.