Tag: steven virgadamo (page 2 of 3)

8 Things Effective and Collaborative Catholic School Leaders do Well…

catholic-leader

1. THEY MEASURE RESULTS FAIRLY AND REGULARLY

Principals who empower teachers devise the right performance metrics and hold everyone accountable to them. You have to continuously gather data about student performance and distribute that information—both the criteria and the results—to everyone involved.

2. THEY BUILD A CULTURE OF OPEN, HONEST DEBATE.

Principals demand those they entrust with important work of educating children to execute it well, but they also stay open to considering new approaches. In those cases, a good instructional leader requires their teachers to back up new proposals with research and data. And of course the most collaborative school leader allows everyone who might be a stakeholder in a change you’re considering weigh in.

3. THEY INVEST IN INNOVATION, AND IMPROVEMENT

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You’ll know from the measurements you take when things are going smoothly and don’t need to be touched. But, sharing leadership and letting others take the helm in carrying out certain duties frees an effective school leader up to find ways where they might be done differently altogether. Delegating can actually open up new opportunities for innovation and can contribute to the formation of future school leaders.

4. THEY MAKE THE RIGHT RESOURCES AVAILABLE

Effective school leaders must offer robust professional development so the staff charged with handling certain work has the skills and tools to do it.

5. THEY DEFINE THE “WHAT” AND DELEGATE THE “HOW”

Effective Catholic School Leaders. Give the responsibility for accomplishing something to others, but let them sort out the best way to go about accomplishing it. That gives your teachers a chance to prove that they are the consummate professional Catholic educator – intelligent, talented, capable, and a heart filled with missionary zeal.

6. THEY RECOGNIZE ACHIEVEMENTS

Reward exceptional work when you see it. Effective Catholic School Leaders are on the lookout for future leaders who can distinguish themselves when they’re given the chance.

7. THEY SHOW REAL CURIOSITY IN THEIR TEACHERS’S WORK

Effective Catholic School Leaders ask good questions to encourage teachers to think clearly and demonstrate what they know. They also, share ideas strategically, and don’t dictate solutions.

8. THEY ESTABLISH AND NURTURE A FAITH FILLED COMMUNITY

Effective Catholic School Leaders build and nurture a community where students, staff and parents can experience and establish a relationship with the Risen Christ.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

8 Ways Early Childhood Teachers Can Help Ensure a Smooth Transition for Students from Home to the First Few Days of a New School Year

teachersIn the south, Midwest and west coast the new school year is already in full swing. The new school year in the northeast corridor is just beginning this week. Transitions are exciting opportunities for children to learn and grow. Parents and early childhood professionals share a role in making children feel safe and secure as they move to new educational settings. Of course, such milestones in children’s lives can cause anxiety, too. Strengthening the ties between educational professionals and families will help create smooth transitions for both adults and children. Making a smooth transition between home and school requires teachers and early childhood professionals to help children feel good about themselves and learn to trust other adults and children. Helping children adapt to new situations can ease parents’ minds and give them a chance to become involved in their children’s education.

Over the past several weeks, Steve Virgadamo offered suggestions for parents as to how to ease the transition from the lazy, hazy days of summer to a more rigorous and structured day in an academic setting. Below, Steven offers practical advice as to early childhood professionals can do their part to help each student transition smoothly from summer to the first few days of school.

8 Ways Early Childhood Teachers Can Help Ensure a Smooth Transition for Students from Home to the First Few Days of a New School Year.

  1. Set up an area for photos of parents and family members that children may “visit” throughout the day. Also, include items that reflect the cultural experiences of the children to help promote a sense of mutual respect and understanding. Children, just like adults, need time to adjust to new people and situations.
  2. Hold an orientation for children and parents. Small groups encourage children to get to know each other.
  3. Experience helps to ease transitions but change can still be stressful. Patience and understanding on the part of parents, caregivers, and teachers help children learn how to approach new situations with confidence—a skill that helps them make successful transitions throughout their lives.
  4. Show children around the new school or program, introducing them to other adults who are there to help them become acclimated.
  5. Make an effort to get to know each individual child as quickly as possible. Parents can provide information about children’s likes, dislikes, and special interests.
  6. Welcome suggestions from families, particularly those of children with special needs. Parents can offer specific suggestions they have found useful for their child and advice on classroom setup and modifications.
  7. Make sure activities are developmentally appropriate for children. Activities that are interesting, challenging, and doable will help children feel comfortable in their new setting.
  8. Work with your administrator to have a cry area for parents – remember the first day of school can be as hard or harder time of separation anxiety on some parents than their child. Allowing parents to gather for awhile proves to be an opportunity for the school administrator to befriend new parents.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

14 Tips For both New & Veteran Catholic School Teachers

teacherBy next week, every Catholic school in the United States will be open and thousands of Catholic school teachers will renew their commitment to preparing students for not just College, but heaven as well.

Last week Steven Virgadamo had the opportunity to welcome new teachers to the Archdiocese of New York – many of them are first time teachers. He spoke to them about the Trinitarian aspects of a Catholic School and how successful Catholic schools are about relationships – relationships – relationships.  By the time the day was done, the cohort of new teachers adopted the mantra of “Not Under my Watch.” Imagine several hundred new Catholic school teachers being asked:

  • Will it be said that in your classroom children were denied an opportunity to encounter the Risen Christ?
  • Will it be said that the test scores of your children declined during the 2015-2016 school year?
  • Will students in your classroom withdraw from the school because parents are dissatisfied with your willingness to partner with them on behalf of their child’s education?

And all responding with an unequivocal – “Not Under My Watch.”

 Virgadamo said, “Teaching is a noble profession! Nobility includes in its meaning the very notion of beautiful. Therefore, noble work is beautiful work. But what is beautiful can sometimes be sullied.”  While working at the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program Steve Virgadamo was often presented with opportunities to talk to new Catholic school teachers. Below are some of the thoughts he would share with them in an attempt to help each new teacher maintain the beauty and luster of his/her own vocation as a Catholic school teacher. We provide you with them today as a resource for every Catholic school teacher and  hope Catholic school leaders across the country will consider sharing with their new teachers.  Some of the thoughts might be good for veteran teachers to hear again as well.

Stay close to the Lord

Throughout your career, you will experience crises of confidence, exasperation, frustration, unreasonable parents, troubled students, bad classes, poor liturgies. You will be misquoted, misrepresented and for some periods of time, mistrusted. But you will also get the unparalleled gift to see the world with wonder again, through the eyes of young people. You will be made a confidante by a young person seeking advice, feel the joy of a weak student who does well on an assignment, cheer for your students in athletic contests, beam with a near parents’ pride as your students graduate. To keep yourself rooted, to keep your ideas fresh, to be the kind of faithful person our young people need to see firsthand, stay close to the Lord, both in your daily prayer and in the reception of the sacraments. If you do, the Lord will bless you in your work and you will go to bed each night exhausted, but with a smile on your face.

Be yourself

If you’re young, you’ve probably never been called Mister Jones or Miss Smith, and that will take some getting used to.  But you can be yourself within this role. I have never agreed with the maxim “Don’t let them see you smile until Thanksgiving.”  The fact is, students respond better to authenticity. It’s OK to laugh at something the students say which is amusing—in fact, it’s quite disarming to them. It’s OK to let the students see you having fun.

Admit your mistakes and learn from them

Zero in on your strengths, not your weaknesses. (Remember — nobody’s perfect!) Principals also suffer from human frailty and need to learn from experiences. School leaders need to be supported not weakened by gossip and other toxic behavior which is destructive to the Catholic School community.

Remember, it’s not about you; it’s about the students

So learn how to spell the word “concupiscence”. Concupiscence is a tendency to put yourself first. Only divine grace enables us to rise above it. But unless you declare war on it, you are bound to succumb to the illusion that teaching is all about you.

Be professional

Model desired attitudes and behavior. Make sure you dress in professional attire. Remember that you teach students first, and then you teach whatever academic discipline you learned. You are a role model for the children and partner with the parents in the formation of each child.

Empower your students and engage them in the teaching/learning process

Listen — both to what the kids are saying and to what they’re not saying.Make sure  that assessments are frequent and fair, that work is graded in a timely fashion, and that classes are well prepared and taught from beginning to end  – every minute matters.

Don’t “go it alone”

Get to know all the teachers in your school and make friends with the cafeteria staff, custodians, aides, and secretaries. We are all formators of children, just each with a different role to play in that formative process. Volunteer to share projects and ideas, and don’t be afraid to ask others to share their ideas with you. Understand that the learning process involves everyone — teachers, students, colleagues, and parents — and get everyone involved. Seek the advice of your colleagues, share your frustrations with them, and ask questions. Remember we are promised that whenever two or more are gathered in His name that he will be with us to enlighten and guide us.

Jump in with both feet!

Some classrooms don’t have walls. So, don’t be a person who clocks in at 7:30 and clocks out at 3 each day. Come to afterschool activities. Nothing connects you with your students faster than to be able to say “Nice hit,” or “great singing,” or “I was impressed with your artwork at the show.” You can’t be at everything; but make a point some days to just stop in at after school care to say hello.  You’ll see kids in a whole new light, and I think you’ll enjoy it, too.

Pray for your students and their families

Your most important work is to bring a piece of heaven into the classroom with you.

Think before you speak

if you do, you won’t speak very often, for there is a great deal to think about in education.

Let the data guide your decision making and instructional strategies

Have the courage to try something else if what you’re doing isn’t working.

Thirty plus years from now, your students will not remember all that you taught them, but they will remember who you were and how you treated them

You have a choice to become a minister of justice or an angel of peace. Be an angel of peace.

Keep a journal and take pictures

Some highly regarded Catholic school teachers share excerpts from their journal and images from the week with parents in a weekly email blast.

Remember that a good day is not necessarily smooth, painless and hassle free and that all the knowledge we give our students is in vain if they receive it without knowing they are good and loved by God

Each day is an opportunity to channel the divine love. Don’t waste an opportunity to do so. Every minute counts!

For many years Steve Virgadamo has provided 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

Steven Virgadamo & Best Practices for avoiding the Back to School Separation Anxiety that dampens the Memory Making Moments for Parent & Child

faith-educationWith just days before the opening of a new school year, many children, whether attending school for the first time or a seasoned veteran, can get quivers and anxiety about attending a new school, or being in a new grade.

Starting a new year comes with a lot of unknowns, so it’s no wonder that many parents are talking about the anxiety one more of their children is experiencing.

If you have not yet experienced the anxiety with your child that is good news but watch for the clues such as restlessness, complaints about headaches, stomach aches and the like.

Steven Virgadamo suggests you be proactive and consider the following to cut the back to school anxiety syndrome before it begins:

1. Share Your Story 

Tell your child about that time in middle school when you were so worried about [whatever] but it ended up being totally okay. It will be proof that she’ll be able to overcome her stress as well.

2. Exercise

All of the sitting still that comes with the return of school can wreak havoc on a child’s nerves.  To counter that, make sure your child gets plenty of exercise after school. Physical activity in anyone, but especially children, is great for preventing — and alleviating — anxiety.

3. Reset Sleep

If you can, try to adjust summer sleep times to the school schedule one to two weeks before the first day. A sudden change in routine can trigger stress.

4. Make a Plan  

For instance, if your child is worried about meeting new friends, have him wear (and look for) conversation-starter accessories. How it works: He spies a classmate with an Angry Birds pack. He likes Angry Birds, too! Ask potential-new-friend if he likes Angry Birds Star Wars. Bond created.

Thank you for viewing!

Steve Virgadamo

Catholic Schools Can Be Marketed for Image, Enrollment & Dollars

“Steven Virgadamo” suggests that marketing simply stated is the right message, delivered to the right person at the right place and the right time.
 
catholic-instituitionFor more than 25 years, I have been involved in leading, managing, and governing Catholic Institutions. (Consider joining “Steven Virgadamo” hosts Leading, Managing and Governing Catholic Education Group at LinkedIn)  I have worked for schools, dioceses, religious congregations and various other Catholic apostolates.   I have helped to prepare pastors, principals and diocesan leaders for their respective leadership roles. Last week I was invited to work with a school in the Deep South. During the time assisting the School Board members and the school administrators, I discovered that they had already solicited the parents who would be new to the school with the 2012-2013 school year.  This fundraising strategy seemed so uncivilized and certainly did not correlate with what I have learned about southern hospitality from years of working in many of the (Arch) dioceses located in the southern portion of our country. I became even more concerned when I met one of the parents who had just enrolled their first child a preschooler in the school and she had already been solicited for a six figure gift. The mother of (definitely a Generation X Mom) told me she agreed to make a “token gift” but was now concerned about the financial situation at the school that the administrator would feel compelled to ask a new family – one which had not yet experienced the promises of the administrator regarding the curricular and co-curricular programs for such a large gift. That experience gave birth to today’s posting.


Please don’t ever just assume that all of the students registered in the spring will be in their respective seat with the new fall semester. The point here is that the recruitment cycle does not end when a child is registered in the spring. To be successful, efforts need to focus between May and August to help each new family “justify the purchase decisions.”


For years, I have said that marketing simply stated is the right message, delivered to the right person at the right place and the right time.


Right Message


To help parents justify the purchase decision we must understand why a young mother chooses Catholic School. The research on why a parent chooses a Catholic School suggests that the decision is based on a perception of a rigorous academic program, an environment of safety, structure and discipline, religious values infused in the curriculum and added value benefit such as a before school, after school program, location of school, and multiple co curricular offerings. So then the right message to help them justify their purchase decision would focus on these aspects of your school. Certainly, you will want to avoid the pitfall of one school in the Midwest which the first communication with new parents after spring registration process was a tuition bill distributed by the business manager in June. I often recommend that all parents, but certainly those new to the school receive several communications between May and August that address how the school is expecting to best serve each student in the areas presented above. An example of such a strategy would be to hold a parent teacher conference the week before school begins to provide the parent the opportunity to educate the teacher about their child and his/her related needs.


Right Person


The research is clear that the mother is the primary decision maker with regard to where a child attends elementary school. So clearly, the key to effective marketing is communicating with mothers and between now and the fall the focus must be on helping the mothers of all students, but particularly those of new students to rationalize their purchase decision. Keep in mind that most of the mothers of preschool age children today are products of what sociologists have  labeled ”Generation X.”  In general Generation X Moms are between the ages of 25 and 40. Generation X’ers are characterized by a propensity for technology, skepticism to advertising claims and attraction to personal style rather than designer labels. Many Generation X mothers grew up as a latchkey child and in a divorced family. Therefore we find that time for their family and family values are very important to them and their approach to parenting is one of hovering, pragmatism, and traditionalism.Generation X mothers are better educated than any other women of previous generations. You can expect them to have an understanding of school achievement data and to utilize that data to evaluate the effectiveness of schools. Generation X mothers surpass their predecessors when it comes to technological advances; they are also embracing traditional values that might have been rejected by their parents. You can expect them to have a deeper commitment to spirituality and heightened concerns about the impact of the media on their children’s formation. Generation X mothers are more fiscally savvy than their predecessors. You can expect them to more closely analyze the “price-value” of any educational investment for their children.

Right Time


While the marketing efforts must be ongoing, particularly if one recognizes the research that the child is under the age of 2.5 when mom makes the elementary school choice. This article is attempting to call your attention to continuing to market the school to the parents who have already enrolled their child for the upcoming fall semester – help each mother “justify their purchase decision” with specific marketing/communication strategies and or events between May and August. Typically, I recommend at least three touches with the parents and one touch to the student by the respective teacher before the traditional “Back to School information is distributed.
Lastly, please keep in mind that the justification of the purchase decision must not end when the new school year commences. Our Catholic elementary schools are experiencing a student retention problem. It is interesting to note that many of the Generation X mothers are choosing to enroll their child but then withdrawing that student within two years. In many cases, this is not exclusively for financial reasons. In many cases they do not believe the school administration and or teachers understand them, their needs and expectations for the education of their children and perceive the value of the educational or religious experience does not justify their financial investment.


Who is “Steven Virgadamo”?

He is a gifted speaker and workshop leader with more than twenty five years of experience as a consultant, providing workshops, seminars and direct consulting services to Catholic Educational Institutions, parishes, religious communities, dioceses and boards of education. He has provided direct consultative guidance to hundreds of Catholic schools in almost half of the Dioceses of the United States in the areas of ownership/governance, administration, strategic planning, marketing, finances, and institutional advancement. Follow him on Twitter @svirgadamo.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Catholic School Principals Identified, Recruited, and Formed by Steven Virgadamo are now Eager To Accept Challenge

gene-kranz
“Not on my watch.”
Test scores and enrollment will not decline, nor will the Catholic identity be curtailed in Catholic schools across the archdiocese, assure the 41 new elementary school principals as they embark on building up the Church through the schools and pupils entrusted to their care.
The majority of the new principals are replacing those who opted for an early retirement package offered by the archdiocese this year.
Last week, Catholic New York (CNY) met with four of the 41 new hires at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan.
They are, in Manhattan, Nicholas Green, 32, Incarnation; Tarik Hyman, 38, St. Elizabeth’s, and Caroline Sliney, 28, Blessed Sacrament; and, on Staten Island, Tara Hynes, 46, Our Lady of Good Counsel.
Protecting children is paramount to being a credible principal in 2015, according to Mrs. Hynes. She had served since 2004 as chairperson of the English department and teacher at Msgr. Farrell High School on Staten Island.
“One thing that happens way too often is that children grow up too fast. What makes Catholic school different is that we are educating the whole child—intellectually, spiritually…This world could be a scary place for some of our children—not only for what is out there on social media, but also the fact that many of our parents work and children are home alone. They have added responsibilities and, in a world that could entice them on to the dangerous side, it’s important for us to protect that.”
Mrs. Hynes recalled with great affection and admiration how the Catholic schools of her childhood were there for her, particularly after the deaths of her parents—her father passed away when she was in the third grade, her mother when she was a junior in high school. “There was community and that community saw us through, but also continued. I still am in contact with people who were my parents’ friends, and I address them as ‘Mr. and Mrs.’… I don’t think I would have had that in any other place.”
Principals are called to be “servant leaders,” Hyman said. At the same time, “you’re always a teacher.” Prior to this post, he was the middle school dean and taught seventh grade at St. Ann School in Manhattan. Hyman said he is an advocate of school mentorships.
Having been told by students, “‘You’re like a father to me,’” has meant so much to him throughout his teaching career as he was raised by a single mother and a grandmother. Just as he discovered many male educators throughout his childhood years in Catholic school were effective father figures, to the students of today, “I feel like I’m their actual family member.’”
School should feel like family, followed Ms. Sliney. “You’re at home when you’re at school,” she said. Before becoming principal there, she had served as assistant principal at Blessed Sacrament since 2013.
Ms. Sliney gives high marks to the parish’s “phenomenal” administrator, Father John P. Duffell, for his dedication to the parish school. Observing the power that can come from a vibrant parish and school community, and the difference that can make in early childhood education is remarkable, she said, as is “watching the way that Christ can come alive in a young family.” As a school with a large and thriving early childhood program, she said, “I’m very proud to see the way our families are being evangelized through that faith experience.”
In regard to Catholic identity, human formation “has to be our mission,” Ms. Sliney said. “Faith is ‘caught, not taught,’” she added.
Green had just moved to New York from Tennessee 10 days earlier, where he served as principal of Memphis Catholic Middle and High School since 2012. “I had a great experience, but was ready for a new challenge,” he said. “New York seemed like a place where some really great things were happening.”
The stakes are higher for Catholic schools, Green said. “We’re part of the formation and the preparation for something beyond high school, college, life. We’re trying to help form these children to grow closer to God and to return to God. We’re trying to not just make scholars out of them, but saints.”
 Steven Virgadamo, the archdiocese’s associate superintendent for leadership is grateful that the prep work has been done to adequately prepare for the inevitable generational shift in leadership that has become a reality this year. Nearly seven years ago, with the help of benefactors, the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy was established. Virgadamo, the executive director, describes the academy as the equivalent of a naval war college for school leaders.
Fifty years ago, a sense of mission and identity in Catholic schools was taken for granted because the teachers came from the same religious community, Virgadamo noted. Thirty years ago, as the number of religious in the schools diminished, a new generation of lay school leaders emerged who were mentored and formed by members of the religious community who staffed the school. Today, programs such as the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy are needed, he said, to prepare school leaders to create the same kind of unified school culture that ultimately becomes the charism of the school.
More than 200 individuals from across the country applied to be a Catholic school principal in the archdiocese for this year, Virgadamo noted. Many cited the opportunity to be part of the team history will remember as those who rewrote the script of Catholic schools from a declining system to one which is growing and flourishing, he added.
Dr. Timothy McNiff, archdiocesan superintendent of schools, said his gratitude to the retiring teachers for their years of service to their schools and students is “beyond a mere ‘thank you.’”
At a retreat held this month for the 41 new principals, he saw firsthand their enthusiasm, authenticity and eagerness to impart the Catholic faith in their schools this fall. “I know we’re passing the torch to the right people,” Dr. McNiff said.
It was at that retreat the principals themselves resoundingly devised their newly adopted mantra, “not on my watch.”
There, Dr. McNiff underscored to them “leadership is everything.”
“These schools need to see an adult who goes into that building every day and is wearing their faith on their sleeve,” showing clearly “what it means to be a good, Catholic citizen.”
“I want them to be comfortable in being able to fulfill that expectation, and I want them to be mindful, on a daily basis, that is an expectation,” Dr. McNiff said. “That’s the roadmap I’m asking them to follow.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Steve Virgadamo Discusses Education Reform & Why Catholic Schools are Good for America

catholicWhile 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

If your image of Catholic schools comes from the movie image of Bing Crosby as Father O’Malley in the Bells of St. Mary’s, you will be very surprised at them today. Formerly, most teachers were priests or members of religious communities of sisters and brothers. Today, over 95 percent of the Catholic educators are single or married women and men.

2) Modern classroom arrangements

A second change you will notice as you visit today’s Catholic schools is the instructional program. Formerly, the typical classroom had student desks lined up in neat rows. Little else was in the classroom except a blackboard. Today, the desks are usually grouped in clusters. Learning is student centered and the instruction differentiated to meet the learning needs of all students.

3) New administrative setup

Years ago, pastors directed the schools and all aspects of the parish. Principals worked under their direction. Today, pastors oversee a variety of parish ministries. While they have ultimate responsibility, they are not the authority in every ministry. The relationship among pastors, principals and heads of other parish ministries is a peer relationship. Each person has expertise in the particular ministry but each works as part of a team.

Pastors and principals have also come to rely on the talents of competent parishioners. Governing Boards develop the budget, formulate policy and oversee the business functions of running a Catholic school.

4) Changes in funding

Fifty years ago, Catholic schools did not charge tuition or, if they did, it was very modest. The expenses of the schools were minimal largely because the men and women religious worked for a modest stipend. Today, tuition covers almost 70 percent of the Catholic elementary school per-pupil cost. The parish Sundaycollection contributes about 20 percent, and various fund-raising activities generate 10 percent.

If you are a parent, one of the most important decisions in your life and in the lives of your children is that of choosing the education that will most benefit them. Consider the following reasons a Catholic school is right for your children:

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 Catholic schools:

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

Bishop Encourages Men to Stay Connected to Church

bishop-hyingIn many areas the Catholic faith is well practiced and there’s a strong sense of religious involvement among the entire community. There are also many area where the Catholic faith has fallen short and is not practiced as regularly unfortunately. The Catholic Church does spend a considerable amount of time trying to reach out to as many people as they can in order to bestow the gifts of the Catholic faith upon those willing to receive it. The Church as a whole tries its very hardest to encourage communities and individuals to stay connected with the Church but recently Bishop Donald Hying is targeting men specifically.

Bishop Hying preaches to his Catholic community that it’s a wonderful time to be Catholic and follow the faith as well as challenge spiritual leaders to develop specialized spiritual plans to really know and understand Jesus Christ. Bishop Hying reminded the spiritual leaders about the importance of becoming role models and suggesting men increase their efforts and get children more excited about the Church community. He was recently interviewed about his lessons and said, “We have to go back to the beginning and preach about Jesus Christ as if nobody has ever heard of him. We have to re-energize the world. We have to do it through engagement.”

Bishop Hying went on in the interview to point out the disconnect college age students and other young adults have with the Church. He wants the spiritual direction of today’s youth to be corrected and brought back to a place of faith. Bishop Hying wants the Catholic Church to “intentionally live our faith” and stresses the need to be “dynamically engaged” so that the communities of faith don’t lose integral members.

I find it very interesting what Bishop Hying is doing. I agree with his view on keeping men interested and engaged with the Catholic faith and the communities that practice Catholicism. His encouragement and commitment to serving others and the faith as a whole stand testament to his love for Jesus Christ.

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Faith Identity & Catholic School

catholic-schoolOne of the main staples of a thriving and constantly growing Catholic school is a strong and undying sense of mission and purpose. A Catholic school above all others must stay steady in their faith and know where they stand at the present moment and where they intend to stand in the future. Unfortunately Catholic education has come under much scrutiny in the past decade due to religious views from those outside the institution and varying ideas to how the organization is allowed to operate.

On the other side of the fence, there are countless families across the country and across the word that believe in a faith based education system. Generations have passed through the doors of some of the most famous institutions and continue to support them by making generous donations or being available to assist in many ways. For those that are well informed about the educational workings of a religious school they understand the strong drive for personal betterment, social responsibility, and community involvement. These same institutions also have high standards in respect to personal faith and morals.

Every so often organizations question the meaning of a religious school and who the school really caters to. The question of whether a religious institution caters to students of a particular faith and are willing to only teach according to that faith, or are they just a private school that welcomes in students of all religions. Dr. Jamie Arthur of The Cardinal Newman Society addressed these concerns in an insightful quote stating, “Catholic schools cannot compromise on Catholicity for it is the integrity and reputation of this ‘brand’ that parents are desperately seeking to assist them in the intellectual and spiritual development of their children.” It is this kind of teaching that keeps the Catholic education systems strong and able to share its ideals and knowledge. It is these same schools that are the most successful in the United States because they know what they want and who they are at their very core. They are not afraid or ashamed to be Catholic and support their religion and know their mission and purpose.

The Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was recently quoted on the subject of faith identity and its relation to Catholic school and he relayed the message you see below.

 

“Keeping the focus on Christ keeps the focus on what the heart and mission of a Catholic school is,” the archbishop stated. “The heart and the mission of Catholic education is evangelization—to help our young people know and love Christ. The reference has to be constantly on the person of Jesus Christ. Without the person of Jesus Christ, there’s no point in having Catholic schools.”

 

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo

Dog Days of August – Not for Catholic School Teachers and Administrators

steve-virgadamo-catholic-teacherThis is one of the happiest times of the year for school administrators and teachers. The classrooms in every school are being decorated, every school campus is pristine, families are registered, and as each day of August passes teachers all across the country are waiting to watch young people arrive excited and happy about learning. For Catholic school teachers watching the young people arrive renews their commitment to provide a quality academic education in an environment where each student has an opportunity encounter Christ.

Parents are the primary educator of their children so you can do your part as well to get your child(ren) ready for school. A little advance preparation can make the first week a lot easier. Tailor these strategies to suit you and your child as you prepare for the big day.

Practice going to school:

Make a dry run to help your child get familiar with the route and the routine. Point out interesting sights or places familiar to your child. Notice the swings, slides, or other fun stuff that your think your child will like — and try them out together.

Dedicate the school year to the Blessed Mother:

Take your child to Church. Remind them that this is where Jesus lives and the more time that they spend in His home, the happier they will be. Then light a votive candle and dedicate the school year to the Blessed Mother. Have your child to pledge to her to always do his or her best in school.

Describe what will happen on the first day:

Keep in mind that a child starting school for the first time or going to a new school may have a hard time imagining what it will be like (You’ve been to school before, but they haven’t.) “Talking about the basic sequence of the day will help your child make a mental movie of what to expect. Kids form pictures in their minds, and reviewing the process in detail will make things more familiar and less scary on the first day of school,

Ask your child compelling questions:

Specific questions will help your child imagine what school will be like and help you talk about the fun stuff and the hard stuff. You might ask,

  • “What do you think the hardest part of school is going to be?”
  • “Is there anything that worries you about starting school?”
  • “What are you really looking forward to?”

Renew meal schedules and bedtime routines:

Sometimes summer can place an irregularity to meal schedules and bed time curfews. Two weeks before school begins create a meal schedule and begin rolling bedtime back to a school schedule. Begin slowly, waking your child up 15 minutes earlier every day and going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night until she is back on track.

Meet kids in the class:

If your child is going to a new school, find out if there will be a class gathering before the first day; it can be helpful to see familiar faces when she walks into a new classroom. Even if your child already has friends at school, schedule some play dates with kids your child may not have seen over the summer.

Learn about the drop-off policy:

Find out about the policy for parents walking children into the classroom and how long you can stay. If you anticipate that your child will need extra time to adjust, talk to the teacher before school starts, if you can.

Give children control over what they can control:

Offering simple choices may help calm nerves and get kids excited. For example, if you pick out a new backpack or lunchbox, let your child choose the color. If you shop for school supplies, let your child find the items in the store and check them off on your list.

Plan ahead how you will say goodbye:

Think about what your child needs in a goodbye. What will be most helpful — a quick goodbye, or five minutes of cuddle time with you?

Steve Virgadamo is an educator and school administrator filled with a missionary zeal for contributing to education reform. Currently, he serves as the Associate Superintendent for Leadership at the Archdiocese of New York and he encourages every Catholic School Leader to share the tips above with all of the families they serve.

Thank you for reading!

Steve Virgadamo