Tag: catholic (page 1 of 2)

Christmas Break – a time of Recollection and Reflection for School Leaders

Sometime over the next two days the final bell will ring and the students will pour out of our Catholic school buildings to go home. At that moment, every Catholic school leader will feel a huge sigh of relief, because as you share your “Merry Christmas’ and Happy New Year” with each student, teacher and parent you will know that you made it to Christmas break and concluded another semester as a school leader.

The first semester of each school year is always a semester with many ups and downs, but it is an important time to lay the solid foundation for continuous improvement. As Christmas break begins, it is a time of reflection on what worked and what didn’t, so each school leader – new or a veteran – can continue to move forward with success.

The humid days of summer can feel as though it was years ago considering the amount of time and energy you have spent with the teachers, students, and parents in the process of building up the school. In this short time each Catholic school leader has accomplished huge feats, and still have much to do. Catholic school leaders today are busier than ever before and each school leader has earned the right to be extremely proud their progress.

As a leader, reflection is an extremely important aspect of life–it is an art form that must be practiced. It requires digging deep into recollection. As I recount stories of students, and stories from my own life, I realize that many have shaped who I am as a leader, and identify why I act the way I do.

This is not my first time practicing or encouraging school leaders to adopt this art of recollection – at first, it can be extremely difficult, and you may not know where to begin. You may not want to look back – I know I didn’t want to look back—mainly because I was afraid of what I might see. I had always been taught to show my strength, focus on it, and remain confident in appearance, despite what I was feeling on the inside. This exercise, this art of reflection to the public, was contradictory to my own upbringing. To some people it may be self-gratifying to research oneself in context with the culture that surrounds them, but in my case, it was the exact opposite, and something in the beginning, I viewed as painstakingly torturous.

Then one day, I realized that there was no moving forward as a school leader until I looked into the past. As a leader, similar to an athlete, I had to review my own practice, and look honestly at myself, as well as those that were around me, so I could be better, and possibly help others to become better.

The distractions and the humming of the world are sometimes extremely difficult to overcome, especially during the rhythm of life when school is in session, but this art form is necessary in analyzing and reflecting on what is working and what is not, so that adjustments can be made. If it can’t be done during the semester, then it must be done at semester breaks and summer vacation.

So at this Christmas break, I invite and encourage each of you to initiate a new practice in your life as school leader – spend quiet time practicing reflection and taking a hard look at the realities that surround you and your school. Spend time thinking about what you have done well and what you could have done better during your first semester as a school leader or a first semester leading a different school than in the past. Then write it down and conclude with New Year’s Resolutions which focus on what you will do to make you a better leader, your faculty better teachers, your students more motivated and your parents more committed to partnering with you in their education of each child entrusted to your care.

In the meantime, please know that I pray you will all enjoy a blessed Christmas and make many memories with family and friends.

Catholic School Olympians

There are a lot of Olympians from all over the world participating in Rio 2016 Olympic Games, a wonderful chance for huge amounts people from all over the world, both athletes and spectators, to come together and root for one another in a global arena. However, you might have heard of a few specifically: Katie Ledecky, Lia Neal, and Anabelle Smith are names you probably recognize, as all three have won medals in the games.

 

But that’s not the only thing these athletes have in common: They, along with Olympians Erin Rafuse, Gaby Lopez, KK Clark, are all products of the Sacred Heart Schools, a Catholic school network of over 145 Catholic education institutions founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart.

 

“Our athletes recognize that their gifts comes from God and are not to be wasted,” the school’s communications director Donna Heckler told CNA.“They are taught to take personal responsibility for themselves while being self-disciplined in their efforts,” she said.

 

Coming from four different countries and from and from an institution over 200 years old, these athletes have a lot to be thankful for.

 

“Ledecky attended Catholic school –  Little Flower School in Bethesda through 8th grade, and then Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart for high school – her whole life. “My Catholic faith is very important to me. It always has been and it always will be. It is part of who I am and I feel comfortable practicing my faith. It helps me put things in perspective,” Ledecky told the Catholic Standard in a recent interview. She also confirmed that she says a “Hail Mary” before each event. “I do say a prayer – or two – before any race. The Hail Mary is a beautiful prayer and I find that it calms me,” she told the Catholic Standard.

 

While Heckler noted that they have no secret to producing Olympians, she did say that the school “does have a secret to producing amazing people. That secret is seen in the five Goals and Criteria of the Sacred Heart Schools that bind the schools together.” According to Heckler, the network of Sacred Heart Schools focuses on instilling five main goals in their students: a personal relationship with God, respect for intellectual values, social awareness and action, community building, and personal growth. “The Goals and Criteria, which are Sacred Heart educational principles, are foundational to this year’s dedicated Sacred Heart Olympians,” the schools press release stated.””

 

The Sacred Heart schools are run by the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Heart. There is a focus on challenging every student to be their “most authentic selves,” as well as a strong faith, commitment to the transforming power of the Spirit of God, and the value of community, it’s clear that the Sisters are helping to inspire students to a life of determination, commitment, and faith that is an inspiration to many. These athletes are just a small few of the successful students of Sacred Heart schools specifically, but also of a Catholic education worldwide.

 

It is wonderful to see athletes that will come to inspire generations of children who are not just excelling physically, but who have a strong foundation of self-discipline, a relationship with God, and values that are inspirational in and of themselves.

 

Educator Resources: Bookmark This Page!

From lesson plans, to clip art for materials, to Sacraments, Liturgy, Prayers, and Liturgical Seasons, there are a lot of resources for Catholic and Christian educators scattered across the web.

You can find online games, arts and crafts blueprints, and more but not all are organized and easy to find. Most are focused on K-8, as many high schools have their own specific programs, but there are many higher-level grade resources out there too!

I have gone through and organized a list of links, making things easy for you to find, and each link comes with a small breakdown from me of the contents of each page, but if you have suggestions or corrections, please send them my way. I want to keep this resource useful, and up-to-date.

 

  • http://www.4catholiceducators.com/ Is a vertiable buffet of links and resources, from lesson plans, and religious education, teaching tools and links, religious art, Christian clip art, to reference tools, theology, Sacraments, Liturgy, prayer, Liturgical Seasons and even puzzles and coloring pages, this webpage has a lot for you to work with.

 

  • https://www.catholicteacherresources.com/ is a non-profit out of the San Fransisco Archdiocses, which compiles ideas and resources from educators in San Fransisco, San Jose, and Oakland. With Catholic WebQuests, interactive Catholic games, Catholic Mass Plans and prayer services, Catholic writing prompts, bible stories, Catholic Virtual Tours, Catholic songs and music and more.

 

  • http://www.catholiccatechist.org/ Contains many resources including games, icebreakers, worksheets, lesson plans and teaching aids, prayer services and many other supplements for your lessonplans broken down by classification.

 

  • https://educationforjustice.org/ is focused on providing timely and engaging educational resources which highlight the foundations of Catholic Social Teaching and real-world applications. Promoting increased knowledge of the Church’s social mission. Supporting people of faith in making the connections between the signs of the times and the demands of the gospel locally and globally. Developing the skills of theological reflection and social analysis needed in a globalizing world. Encouraging greater awareness and engagement with justice issues, and fostering a transformation of mind and heart through materials created. All resources are located within a search-engine-like finder.

 

 

  • http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/ This is the Catholic Education Resource Center, and one of the most in-depth resources based on topic, journalistic essays and thinkpieces about almost every subject that a Catholic school child or educator might face or question. This is a great resource for older children who might want to look more in-depth at their faith and the threats posed to it, as well as current events, health, family, and more. Less lesson plan-type resources here, more reading articles relevant to us all.

 

  • http://www.eds-resources.com/edthe.htm A great resource for many ideas on lesson plans and more, from a wide variety of sources. Has not been updated since September of 2015, and is a little disorganized, but can be a great source of inspiration.

 

  • http://www.catholicteacher.com/ This is the online companion to Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine. You can view their blog, and digital versions of past issues, but you’ll need to register to see the current magazine online.

 

  • http://www.catholiccurriculumonline.com/ This is a very in-depth site focusing on Effective curriculum resources to integrate and infuse Catholicity within specific courses throughout all academic areas. Resources are aligned with the Common Core Standards. Engaging curriculum resources aligned with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age for Catholic high schools and the Adaptation of the Framework for parish Religious Education programs. Resources for retreats/renewals, spiritual formation days, etc. for high school Campus Ministries to enhance student spirituality. Also there are active forums allowing Catholic educators (high school and parish) to collaborate on lesson planning and for increasing the abilities to utilize Catholic teaching in all academic areas. You must apply for membership to access this site.

 

 

 

  • https://www.ncea.org/ This is the site for the National Catholic Educational Association, and focuses more on professional resources like career education and catholic education data.

 

  • https://www.pinterest.com/ Can be a slog to wade through, and a lot of the pages linked are pages that you can find elsewhere on this list, but a great way to brainstorm lesson plans and activities is with Pinterest.
  • http://www.catholicmom.com/religious_education_resources.htm is a list of books and other resources, but it a little long and not as organized to read through or search as I would like. All of the images on the site currently appear to be broken, so there might be out-of-date information here as well.

 

 

  • http://education.crs.org/ A non-profit called Catholic Relief Services that aims to work in the spirit of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to assist impovrished and disadvantages people overseas. While there is a lot on this site about programs and ways to help with their mission, there are also some great resources for older students looking for outreach and to help make a change in the world.

 

  • http://catholicblogger1.blogspot.com/ Is a website put together by a mother who is passionate about what she does. Games, printables, special event planning, lesson plans, classroom, crafts, and more. An impressive list of resources to come from one woman running a website on her own.

 

Top Five Books in Catholicism on Amazon

A slideshow presentation by Steve Virgadamo, of the top five bestselling books on Catholicism from Amazon.

Catholic Education 2015-2016 Infographic

Catholic Education Facts Infographic by Steve Virgadamo

Catholic Education Facts Infographic by Steve Virgadamo

Five Essential Marks of Catholic Schools

With so many colleges coming under fire for being Catholic in name only, the question becomes, what makes a school Catholic in the eyes of the Church? Here are the five marks that give a school a good Catholic identity:

11 Reasons to Teach, by Sister Mildred

Sister Mildred was a Benedictine Sister of Chicago, in service for 66 years, making her final vows in 1949 and passing away this year. In her belongings, they found a little letter, addressed to no one in particular, entitled First is Best. It lists 11 reasons why she loved to teach first grade. Steven Virgadamo has complied this into a slideshow to share the joy of teaching in the Catholic faith.

 

Toward a Theory of Fundraising A Steward’s View at the Process

Steps to Grow K-12 Catholic Schools

Marketing The Catholic School