Tag: school (page 2 of 4)

Catholicism’s Impact on the History of Education

In today’s day and age, when it is easy to both take a Catholic education for granted, and, at the same time, potentially harbor feelings of persecution of faith in education, it is important to remember and appreciate the tumultuous history of public education and Catholic education.

While learning and passing on knowledge is intrinsically wired into the brain of all humankind, and there have been teachers and students as long as man has walked on this Earth, the history of formal education in the Western world is much shorter than the history of man, and it is firmly grounded, from the beginning, in Christianity.

Even in Ancient Rome, long considered the intellectual empire of education the pre-Middle Ages world, there is little record of anything indicating free and available education. Only the elite of Roman wealth and society could expect a complete education, and education in this time was seen as more of a status symbol of wealth and leisure time than it was as a practical concern. For a large portion of the Ancient World, literacy was reserved for religious scholars and scribes, and classes or schooling were largely absent. For years, those without wealth and status in cultures from from Israel to China primarily educated themselves by apprenticing in a trade or devoting themselves to religion. Prior to the Middle Ages, India had the most developed and publicly-available education from around 1500 BC to 600 BC, but as the caste system developed it became far more discriminatory.

It wasn’t until during the early Middle Ages that the monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church  became the centres of education and literacy. Evidence of classes and schools in monasteries as the forerunners to the later idea university can be found dated as far back as the early 6th century, a full century before Islam created The University of al-Qarawiyyin which is the oldest existing continually operated university in the world in the latter part of the 7th century.

Free education for the poor was officially mandated by the Church in 1179 when it decreed that every cathedral must assign a master to teach boys too poor to pay the regular fee; parishes and monasteries also established free schools teaching at least basic literacy skills. This was the basis from which all of modern education has sprung, world-wide.

The first American schools founded by the colonists in the 17th century are not actually the first American schools, as the history of Catholic education in the United States is actually older than the United States itself. Religious education was brought to these shores by Spanish missionaries accompanying explorers and conquistadors, and were followed shortly thereafter by French compeers.

Even though English Catholics founded Maryland as a Catholic colony in 1634, and most colonies were founded by Christians and Catholics seeking religious freedoms from the Anglican church, it took some time for Catholic education to take root widely. The end of the Revolutionary War saw the real growth of Catholic schools in America, with Georgetown University being founded in 1789, just a few short years later.

The Catholic education established in the United States saw hard times hard times and a simultaneous boom in the 1840’s when Horace Mann worked to create a statewide system of professional teachers and “common schools” rather than the private schools that had existed before. Mann believed that education should be available to all, and the movement quickly gained strength. Many states began passing “compulsory attendance” laws. No one person did more for public education in the minds of the American people.

However, Horace Mann was also a Presbyterian minister, was also establishing curriculum and ideology for these public schools that drastically shifted education towards a Protestant one, and required that the King James Bible be used in schools. Catholic teachers who refused to participating in the reading of the King James Bible were often dismissed from their teaching positions, and Catholic children in public schools were often bullied and shunned, Tensions built so high in the 1840’s that they began causing riots and violence, with the most severe being the May 3, 1844 riot in Philadelphia that destroyed dozens of Irish Catholic immigrant homes, with Catholic schools and churches being burned to the ground.

This tension against Catholicism in public education created a demand for private Catholic schools, and in 1852 the First Plenary Council of Baltimore urged every Catholic parish in the country to establish it’s own Catholic school for that very reason.

Growth of the Catholic school system grew until 1920, and then the growth became explosive, with an all-time high in the mid 60’s. The mid 1960’s saw 4.5 million elementary school students enrolled in private Catholic schools, with a further million in high-schools, which began a blossoming need for Catholic universities.

Though we are seeing a decline recently from the years that were the peak of enrollment, it is no doubt that Catholicism, and the drive to educate the world in faith and higher learning for centuries, has made our culture what it is today.

Catholic Education Available to All

From Vatican City, the Pope spoke on the current state of education. According to His Holiness, there is a current failure of the system in the way that schools interact with families and states that leads to a selective education of the wealthy or intelligent. He used the word “supermen” to describe the children that are lucky enough to come from the privileged background that allows for a non-secular education.

 

“Behind this, there is always the ghost of money. Always.” Pope Francis said of education. “It has become too selective and elitist. It seems that only those people or persons who are at a certain level or have a certain capacity have the right to an education.” (According to this article from US News, a year at the average Catholic primary school typically runs about $5,330. That number goes up to $9,790 for middle and high school. The average cost for one year of tuition at a Catholic college averages $26,300. The average Christian school, on average, cost $7,960 a year for an elementary student and $16,520 for a secondary student)

 

This statement took place in a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Christian Education and the 25th anniversary of “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” St. John Paul II’s apostolic constitution on Catholic universities and was followed up with an off-the-cuff question and answer session taking questions from administrators and faculty

 

When asked what makes a school “truly Christian”, the pope responded saying that Christian education is not  just about providing catechesis, but also requires education in “human values”, especially the value of transcendence. Education that favors the tangible like test scores and profitability and ignores the spiritual dimension of existence is “the biggest crisis” in education. “We must prepare hearts so the Lord can manifest himself,” which requires an education that strives to reflect “the fullness of humanity that has this dimension of transcendence,” he said. Educators must work to restore the broken “educational alliance” that has a tendency to put profits before people. “This is a shameful global reality,” the Pope said. “It is a reality that leads us toward a human selectivity that, instead of bringing people together, it distances them; it distances the rich from the poor; it distances one culture from another.”

Educators, he continued, “are among the worst-paid workers: what does this mean? It means that the state simply has no interest. If it did, things wouldn’t go that way. The educational alliance is broken. And this is our job, to find new paths.”

 

The Pope called for people to educated the poor and the marginalized, even if that meant cutting staff or other expenses at some of their schools in wealthier neighborhoods. “They have something that youth from rich neighborhoods do not through no fault of their own, but it is a sociological reality: they have the experience of survival, of cruelty, of hunger, of injustice. They have a wounded humanity. And I think about the fact that our salvation comes from the wounds of a man injured on the cross.”

 

And the Pope isn’t wrong. Many college-prep Catholic high schools boast records of 99% of their students go on to college, which is an astounding fact that could change the future for a kid from an under-served community. The wealth of U.S. Catholics is documented by sociologists as rising all the time, and a lot of that affluence has been attributed to -at least in part- to Catholic education.

 

And this is not a new refrain that we are hearing, either. During an April 2008 visit to Washington, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged people to make schools accessible to all by opening our wallets and getting creative in how we finance schools: “It provides a highly commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done in cooperation with the wider community to ensure that Catholic schools are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation.”

 

Secular Criteria for Colleges Can’t Tell the Whole Story

With a recent article published by Newsmax on the top 40 Traditional Catholic and Jesuit Colleges in America, some debate has been raised on the topic of secular college standards versus faith being the defining factor in choosing a school. Managing editor of the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, Adam Wilson, argues that a college’s Catholic identity should be of paramount concern.

 

“Students must weigh all options, including a school’s selection of majors, its location, post-graduation job success rate, class size, and student-to-faculty ratio.” Says Newmax, but then it also goes on to say that legacy and influence are subjective criteria compared to statistics like student retention rates. While these factors are great to take into consideration, do they accurately portray the Catholic structure of the college and the ideals that it espouses?

 

A Newsmax rep spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society to explain “that special consideration was given to “institutions that allow students to give back or care for others while growing spiritually,” but that they ultimately “wanted the list to feature exceptional institutions that ‘strike the perfect balance between integrating faith and reason with a rigorous academic education.’” Only one of the universities in the Newsmax ratings is recommended by the Newman Society for its commitment to a faithful Catholic education. Georgetown University, on the Newsmax list as the number two top Catholic college has actually had a canon law petition filed against it due to the numerous Catholic identity abuses, demanding that the university either remove it’s Catholic affiliation or take significant steps to restore the Catholic identity it once held.

 

So where should you look to for a college that is based in spirituality but also hits the academic criteria desired for success of the students? Keeping in mind that it is not just a college of faith that is important, and if they adhere to what the Church envisions for Catholic universities, but also that the students will enroll in institutions that aim to strike the perfect balance between integrating faith and reason with a rigorous academic education. The legwork here mainly falls to you. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has compiled a list of Catholic Colleges and Universities in the United States that gives you a base to jump of from, and everyone looking into a Catholic institution should read the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae. It is important that the institutions and bishops in the United States are understanding and using the application of that document to bring their identity in line with the Church’s vision. The only way you can know if the needs of the college are aligned with the needs of your family and your faith is to ask the important questions yourself. Class size and student retention, while important factors to consider, simply are not representative of the ideals of a college or it’s ability to nourish a student’s faith. Campus ministry and residence life, as well as the faculty and percentage of Catholic students in attendance are all integral to the process.

 

As Pope Benedict XVI addressed to Catholic educators in 2008 where the Holy Father stated that “Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics.” Instead, Catholic identity “demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith. In this way, our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society,” he continued. “They become places in which God’s active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ’s ‘being for others.’”

 

Royal Palm Academy

Royal-Palm AcademySteven Virgadamo has been retained to conduct a search for the next Head of School/President for Royal Palm Academy in Naples Florida. Interested candidates should see the position profile below.

THE POSITION

At Royal Palm Academy, students don’t just walk from the drop off line to enter school – they run.  Students from PreK through grade eight are eager to come to Royal Palm Academy, where they know that teachers listen to and cherish them for who they are and who they want to become. Anchored by the Catholic values that inspired its founding, the school provides a nurturing environment that strives to educate the whole child: spiritually, academically, socially, and physically.

Through small classes and differentiated instruction, teachers – many of whom hold advanced degrees-meet the needs of each and every student.

At this time, the school seeks a new Head, effective July 1, 2016 to lead with grace and vision. The successful candidate will be a capable and proven leader who is passionate about education of the whole-child and committed to leading a community of elementary and middle school-aged students.

SCHOOL HISTORY

Since its inception, Royal Palm Academy has been committed to partnering with families in the total education and formation of their child(ren). This tradition has become an essential part of the school’s culture. RPA is fully accredited PreK-8 by:

  • Florida Catholic Conference
  • Florida Council of Independent Schools
  • Florida Kindergarten Council
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • National Association of Independent Schools

THE SCHOOL

 Royal Palm Academy offers students boundless opportunities to explore their interests and passions.  Differentiated curricula at all grade levels challenge and support students in all their endeavors.  By the time they graduate, students have developed a solid academic foundation, independence, and the critical and creative thinking skills to not just attend, but to excel at the best high schools in the community.

ACADEMICS

Royal Palm Academy equips students to succeed in life through as comprehensive method of education that fosters excellence in four key areas of leadership:

  • Intellectual
  • Human Character
  • Spiritual
  • Apostolic

RPA students consistently score in the top 15% nationwide in the Stanford 10

As part of its mission to educate the whole child, Royal Palm Academy provides a comprehensive enrichment programs, offering opportunities for students to explore the visual and performing arts, Spanish language and culture, and athletics and movement.

Art classes allow students to express creativity and innovation.  They develop a wide range of fine motor skills through projects designed to help them discover the intersection of art and all their other subjects.  Using two-and three-dimensional media, students explore the visual world.

Through a focus on the performing arts, students gain comfort with public speaking and performance.

Students are introduced to another culture and language through Spanish instruction at Royal Academy. In the lower school, students’ interaction with Spanish is introductory, through song and movement.  A focus on vocabulary and grammar enhances their understanding of and facility with the language in the upper school.

Students hone their physical abilities, motor skills, and general through frequent athletic opportunities.  In the lower school, students take movement class and can play various club sports. Students continue to grow athletically in upper school through weekly physical education classes and the opportunity to compete in interscholastic sports.

NAPLES, FLORIDA

Royal Palm’s enviable location in Naples, Florida provides easy access to full range of recreational and educational resources.  Naples is a city on the Gulf of Mexico in southwest Florida that’s known for high-end shopping and golf courses.

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES

The Next Head of Royal Palm Academy School will find a school on the move.  Over the past few years the enrollment has grown, a capital campaign completed and a gymnasium constructed. The Leadership Board is eager to continue that growth.  The school’s reputation has grown as well, and it now draws an increasingly geographically wider population of parents and students.

The parents at Royal Palm Academy are very involved in the school and very positive about its direction.  They provide significant volunteer services and serve on the governing boards and the Search Committee. They also speak highly on the Catholic education their children receive and value the dedication of the teaching staff. The next Head will need to continue to support the Catholic mission of the school, both as the lead administrator and through her/her life as a model to students.

Projects that lie ahead for the new Head of School will include working on the facilities needs of the school and increasing enrollment

QUALIFICATIONS AND QUALITIES OF THE NEXT HEAD OF SCHOOL

The next Head of Royal Palm Academy will need to:

  • Be a Catholic in good standing;
  • Be an experienced, resourceful Catholic educational leader with proven motivational and leadership and institutional advancement abilities;
  • Be a listener, collaborator, and communicator with all constituents;
  • Love children and life in schools;
  • Understand the particular challenges of leading a Catholic school;
  • Maintain close relations with the diocese and participate in Catholic educational programs;
  • Be skillful in setting out a vision for the school’s next phase of development;
  • Be eager to work closely with involved parents.

TO APPLY

Interested candidates should submit the following materials confidentially as separate PDF attachments in one email to: svirgadamo@msn.com

  • Cover letter expressing interest in the Royal Palm Academy – Head of School position
  • Current resume
  • Statement  of  Catholic educational philosophy and practice
  • List of five references with name, phone number, and email address of each (references will be contacted only with the candidate’s permission).

School Choice is a both Civil Rights and a Human Rights Issue

new-york-rightsFor decades, the Friedman Foundation and other advocates of school choice programs have made their case to city and state officials. They have rightly argued that allowing parents to use public funds to send their children to private schools helps minority students overcome the challenges to learning that exist in many urban public schools.

Steven Virgadamo has long advocated that School Choice in the United States is a fundamental civil rights issue and in some cases could be argued to be a fundamental human rights issue.

In the United States those who can afford to reside in a particular zip code or pay the private school tuition have a very real choice. But what about the urban poor or reside in a poor performing school district and cannot afford to relocate to a zip code with a high performing school district and cannot afford the cost of a private school. Education is an opportunity to break the cycle of poverty. Education reform is needed in the United States and throughout the poor countries in the world.

Later this month this argument may be taken to the United Nations as a United Nations expert committee meets to discuss the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, an international treaty adopted in 1965. This group — the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) — could use the occasion to consider how countries can protect education rights, combat prejudice and promote tolerance by providing public funds for school choice.

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Forming Saints and Scholars

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Steve Virgadamo

A School Leader in the 21st century is one of the most exciting and significant roles undertaken by any person in society. Principals are responsible and accountable for the development of children.

Catholic school principals answer to a higher authority in that they are executive level managers in “Our Father’s Business.”  Each Catholic School executive is accountable for the formation of the child and are called to focus on the following in considering the formation of each saintly scholar:

Intellectual Formation

  • Acquire critical thinking skills
  • Learn to communicate clearly, logically and creatively

 Human Character Formation

  • Grow in core values that enable positive leadership
  • Develop essential character strengths including discipline, responsibility, and a sense of personal dignity

Spiritual Formation

  • Strengthen a personal relationship with Christ
  • Learn the fundamentals of Catholic traditions and teachings
  • Discover a meaning in life that inspires the pursuit of excellence

Apostolic Formation

  • Develop a generosity through acts of self giving and sacrifice
  • Form a sense of social responsibility and learn to share talents as a member of a global team
  • Exercise leadership by serving as mentors and role models

By focusing on these important student outcomes, a successful Catholic School leader will provide a school with a culture of academic rigor and an environment in which each student can encounter and grow in a relationship with the Risen Christ!

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

So We Have a Catholic School Board – Who Does What Around Here Anyway?

catholic-school-boardFor most Catholic schools, the school Board exists primarily to formulate policy and give strategic direction to the school (i.e., plan).

The Board is charged with furthering the school’s mission and ensuring the school’s success. The Board’s core activity is planning, and the Board’s primary constituency is not today’s students but the students of the future.  

The minimal functions of a Catholic school Board includes:

 

1. Developing a strategic plan

2. Policy development

3. Hiring the chief administrator

4. Approving an annual budget

5. Overseeing financial accountability including establishing just compensation and tuition pricing.

6. Ensuring that in broad terms the school is fulfilling its mission.

 

The Board members should NOT be involved in the day-to-day operations of the school. Such daily practical matters should be handled directly by the Chief Administrator of the school. The primary responsibility of the chief administrator is to:

 

· Implement the policies established by the board.

· Oversee the implementation of the curriculum and classroom management.

· Evaluate, hire and fire staff within the financial constraints determined by the Board.

 

 The critical distinction between the roles of the Board and the Chief Administrator is that the Board controls the big picture and gives direction to the Chief Administrator, who implements policy with considerable discretion. The Board is responsible for approving the annual budget, for developing a long-term strategic plan, and for the evaluation and the hiring and firing the Head of the school. The school Head handles the day-to-day operations of the school, typically without any Board intervention or input. 

 

About the Author – Steven Virgadamo

Steve Virgadamo provides thought leadership to Church leaders, Trustees and Board members. His expert counsel over many years has led to many Bishops, Chief Finance Officers, Superintendents, Pastors and Principals to consider him to be the expert in both Church and school management and the most premier consultant for Catholic schools, colleges and universities. He travels throughout the United States and internationally to mentor and teach school leaders, teachers, pastors, and more. His domestic and international reputation has led to Steven’s selection as a delegate for the World Congress on Catholic Education sponsored by the Congregation of Catholic Education.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

The Pope Visited a Catholic School

Perhaps you should as well. You’ll find that that the school is still Our Father’s school, but not your father’s Catholic School anymore.

pope-francis

While many Catholic schools have closed, more than 150 schools opened during the past 10 years. Hardly a diocese in the country exists that does not have plans on the drawing boards for new schools and additions to others. Catholic parents in suburban parishes are now the prime movers behind the opening of new schools. From California to Virginia, from Florida to Indiana, examples exist of new schools opening with capacity enrollments and waiting lists.

The best way to understand what is happening in Catholic schools is to take a good look at the following four traits:

1. ADHERENCE TO CATHOLIC IDENTITY

2. MODERN CLASSROOM ARRANGEMENTS

3. NEW ADMINISTRATIVE SETUP

4. CHANGES IN FUNDING

CATHOLIC SCHOOLS…

1) Have a proven record of academic excellence;

2) Recognize you as the primary educator of your child(ren) and partner with you for the good of your children;

3) Continue the religious formation of your children begun in your home;

4) Offer a rigorous curriculum

5) Provide a challenging environment;

6) Maintain a secure environment;

7) Deal with the issues of today and show students the application of Christian principles to them;

8) Have educators who believe that all children can succeed;

9) Provide a Christian value-centered education; and most importantly

10) Prepare students for not just college, but heaven too!

If you are not a parent but a Catholic parishioner, I ask you to examine with me the following reasons for helping the renaissance of Catholic schools throughout the United States: 1. At Baptism we joined the family of God and were charged to become evangelizers. We do this chiefly by acting in a Christ like manner. Because we are charged to be evangelizers, we need to assist those who do this on a full-time basis. We need to support our Catholic schools.

2. Catholic schools are good for America. Large numbers of Catholic schools provide a top-quality education to very poor children thereby treating the disease of poverty and social injustice as opposed to just the symptoms.

Catholic schools have done more for evangelization than any other American Church institution. For more than 200 years, they have been the most effective means of helping youth grow in their faith. Catholic schools have been a great gift to the nation. They have educated millions and millions of students who became productive citizens intensely loyal to their country.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

11 Things for Every Catholic School Leader to Consider During October

catholic-leader

In this article Steven Virgadamo, a renowned expert in Catholic School Leadership shares some October wisdom with Catholic School Leaders.

Looks like you made it!

October 1 – first month of your Apostolic work as a Catholic School Leader is in the history books. Congratulations!

 

 

To help you prepare for your next month in your leadership ministry Steven Virgadamo shares a few insights for new and experienced Catholic school leaders:

1. Continue to listen carefully to the staff- the faculty, lunch staff and custodians. We are larger than the sum of our parts! More often than not the faculty, staff and custodians have a pulse and perspective on what is working and of course what is not,”

2. Continue to honor the history of the school, and avoid using words like at another school I worked…”

3. By now, you have good read on your faculty and have identified teachers who have a passion for knowledge and “upping their game”. Encourage them to take measured risks and support them as they will help those more fearful of change to adjust to new pedagogies.

4. Relationships matter. Focus on building community and never ever forget to admit when you are wrong or hold your ground when it is right for the children to do so.

5. Research indicates a direct link between classroom management and academic success. Never stop practicing MBWA (Management by Walking Around), be visible in the hallways, dining facilities, playground and of course a mentor to new teachers.

6. Keep your eye on the goal – the  SMART Goals and be prepared to measure the effectiveness of your year in relationship to the goals.

7. Test scores, test scores, test scores…be creative and innovative, work with teachers to conduct formal and informal student assessments in all academic disciplines but particularly focused on increasing students performance in Math and ELA.

8. Model behaviors and be sure your staff perceives you as a lifelong learner. Staff meetings should be professional development opportunities not just informational monologues

9. As you gather with the students and parents for first Friday liturgy, remind them that this is a school and Church built by God, it is HIS House and the more time that they spend in it and get to know Him and love Him the happier they will be.”

10. Remember to manage up – as well as down –  Keep your Pastor, Board, and  Superintendent in the loop. Each is a great resource. Consult with them regularly and be sure to share both triumphs and tribulations.

11. Keep a professional journal. It will be a great resource for you and will empower your growth as a school leader in service to the Church.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, make memories and be joyful as you are a important partner in Our Father’s business.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Catholic School Leaders and Boards – Who runs the school?

archdiocese-nycAs I work with Catholic Schools throughout the United States I am frequently presented with scenarios of conflict between school leaders and board members.  The dysfunction in such a relationship can be destructive to the Faith community we call the Catholic school. In the article below, I attempt to articulate the primary roles, responsibilities and focus of the Chief administrator of a Catholic School, or a Catholic School system and the Governing Board. It is my hope that it will be used widely to clarify roles and responsibilities before the scenarios of conflict emerge.

For most Catholic schools, the school Board exists primarily to formulate policy and give strategic direction to the school (i.e., plan). The Board is charged with furthering the school’s mission and ensuring the school’s success. The Board’s core activity is planning, and the Board’s primary constituency is not today’s students but the students of the future.

The 8 minimal functions of a Catholic school Board includes:

1. Developing a strategic plan

 2. Policy development

3. Hiring the chief administrator

 4. Approving an annual budget

5. Overseeing financial accountability

6. Establishing just compensation for employees

7. Set tuition

8. Ensuring that in broad terms the school is fulfilling its mission.

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo