Maintaining Tradition While Innovating Catholic Education

Catholic education is something that many parents want for their children. However, there is some conflict between the new age way of thinking with technology and the internet, and the old way of doing things. Therefore, we need to approach education with innovation while maintaining tradition. Here is how to do just that without losing the important aspects of faith:

Devices

More and more devices are entering classrooms every day. Long gone are the days when a classroom was comprised of simply a whiteboard. Today, teachers need to understand that students are going to be tempted to use their phones. Instead of reacting in the strict manner of the past, using measures that enforce policies while allowing a little freedom is paramount.

After all, devices can also be a great way to learn. Using smartphones and tablets in the classroom for things like quizzes, interactive games, and reading can be highly beneficial for cognitive development while also teaching students modern skills needed for today’s increasingly technological world.

Online Education

Not every class requires a physical classroom. Today, online education has grown significantly, which makes sense when taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Instead of paying for the building, students can simply log on and contribute with others to pay for their teachers’ time. This also allows for students all over the world to come together and learn about similar subjects, leading us into our next point.

Inclusion

Catholic education must be inclusive to spread the true word of the Lord. Promoting unity is the way forward. Teaching this at a young age is a surefire way to foster positivity and faith among younger generations, and to not discriminate against others purely due to differences in beliefs, appearance, or personality.

Science and Religion

Tradition states that science and the church remain two separate entities. However, with leaders such as the Pope himself coming out and advocating scientific research, it is necessary to innovate teachings so that science may become part of the learning process. That way, it can aid Catholic values rather than distract from them.

Looking at Other Beliefs

Many religions outside of Christianity and Catholicism have valuable lessons as well. Teachers can introduce them without having to praise everything they promote in full, highlighting the importance of acceptance and understanding.

The Surprising Affordability of Private Education

Many parents choose to send their children to local government schools, and the reasons for this decision are varied. In some cases, parents would prefer to send their kids to private school, but feel as though they cannot afford the cost of tuition. Fortunately, some methods exist for making the cost of a private education lower and getting kids a superior instructional experience.

Check the Tuition

One of the first steps in the process is to actually find out what the tuition is. Some parents automatically assume that they cannot afford a private education without actually investigating what the cost would be. Checking the website and meeting with a representative from the school can provide a more accurate financial picture. Upon learning the actual price, families may realize that they actually can afford the private education that they want for their children.

Join the Parish

When schools are affiliated with religious organizations, families can often get discounts if they join the respective religious community. For example, a Catholic school that is part of the parish will likely offer discounts to members of that parish. Therefore, parents can join both the parish and the school, becoming part of a wider community that will help to enrich their children’s experience.

Explore Multi-Child Discounts

Another way to receive a discounted rate on a private education is to send multiple children to the school. Some parents may want to wait until their kids are in first grade to send them to the private school. However, they may save more money in the long run by putting younger siblings into the school now. When they have more than one child enrolled in the private school, they can save on the cost of education.

Procure Financial Assistance

Parents can also look into financial assistance that is provided by the private school in which they are interested. Schools generally offer a limited number of financial awards, so parents who want to apply should do so as soon as possible. Researching the qualifications for the financial awards is an important step of the process.

A private education might seem as though it has a huge price tag attached to it. However, this thought isn’t always true. Parents have some steps that they can take to achieve the right education for their children while keeping their financial situations in mind.

The Importance of Dual-Language Immersion Programs

In today’s global economy, it is more important than ever to learn a second language. Not only do dual-language immersion programs benefit the non-native English speakers by allowing them a chance to learn in their native tongues, English speakers are gifted with the opportunity to pick up another language while continuing their education. This unique education model has demonstrated a host of benefits to all involved, but here are the top three advantages:

 

GLOBAL COMMUNITY: Exposing children at a young age to cultures different than their own has immeasurable benefits that will follow them for the rest of their lives. As children develop friendships with kids of diverse backgrounds, they learn a greater understand and tolerance for people with different views.

 

A healthy respect for the global community is also cultivated in dual language schools. In today’s shrinking world, this empathy and knowledge will take open-minded children further than their sheltered counterparts.

 

BILINGUAL ACHIEVEMENT: The overriding reason that parents choose this educational model for their children is because they want them to learn a second language. Short of moving to another country, a dual-language immersion school is the fastest and most effective way to teach a child a new language.

 

By graduation, most students are considered to be fluent in at least two languages, a life skill that will prove invaluable for the rest of their lives. Not only will learning two languages expand the worldview of the students, but it will also open up a myriad of additional job opportunities later on in life as they enter the workplace.

 

HIGHER OVERALL ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE: Learning a new language provides a host of benefits outside of the basic new dialect skill. Dual-language immersion students achieve a higher level of metalinguistic awareness, enabling them to understand the basic workings of any language. This understanding can be applied to a variety of learning tasks and situations.

 

Students in these type of programs also continually exhibit greater performance on problem-solving skills, pattern recognition, and other types of divergent thinking capabilities. Learning a second language helps to unlock different areas of the brain that lay dormant when learning in just one primary language. This benefit is seen in both the non-native speakers as well as the dominant language speakers.

Summer Activities for Catholic Students

Catholic schools often have a smaller population of students than their public school counterparts. While this is beneficial when it comes to individualized attention, it can also mean a higher probability of isolation for students that don’t fit in easily.

 

Finding ways to keep those students active and engaged with their peers during the summer can go a long way in boosting their self-esteem. There are many activities that cater to youth during the summer months and will assist them in making new friends and spreading their wings.

 

  1. Community activities: Many towns have a recreation center that offers a variety of clubs and activities over the summer. If a child is being bullied or having trouble connecting with others, check into recreation programs at nearby towns so they have the potential to make friends that don’t attend their school.

 

  1. Theater groups: Children that enjoy the arts will thrive in a setting where they can freely express themselves amongst peers that hold the same interests. Local community and performing arts centers usually offer programs during the summer that specifically focus on youth with a passion for drama and the arts.

 

  1. Camps: Going away to camp doesn’t always require an overnight stay. While overnight camp is a great option for children that adapt easily, ones that are more introverted may benefit from a day camp. Day camps offer a variety of activities including excursions to local amusement parks, swimming centers, libraries, and more.

 

  1. Library programs: The local library is a great resource for children looking to meet new people. Check their calendar for a variety of programs and events throughout the summer like book discussion groups, writing classes, and game nights.

 

  1. Sports: Just because a child is introverted doesn’t mean they won’t thrive in the field of sports. With so many different sports available like bowling, tennis, swimming, soccer, basketball, baseball, dance, and cheerleading, there’s sure to be something to fit each child’s personality.

 

Keep in mind that summer break is not always an easy time for youth. Planning in advance and signing them up for several activities during the summer can help keep them engaged with their peers and avoid the loneliness and feelings of isolation that can set in.

How Catholic School Teachers are Reaching Out

Catholic schools in inner cities are making a difference in the success and happiness of the children who live there. Many urban-area parents have removed their children from neighborhood schools troubled with violence and failure, sending them to the Catholic schools where teachers demonstrate genuine concern for these children suffering from trauma in their lives.

 

By attending professional conferences that address the problems and needs of urban families, Catholic school instructors learn how to reach out to inner-city children. One symposium this year hosted nearly 200 Catholic school teachers in the Philadelphia area. The second annual Catholic Urban Education Conference had the purpose of providing teachers an awareness and understanding of the effects and influence of trauma upon urban students.

 

Addressing the ways to identify students’ trauma of living in the inner city and the various teaching strategies that can be used to assist them in their learning was central to this conference.

 

Major factors that contribute to high levels of stress among inner-city children are mental health issues that often cause breakups in the family, as well as the prevalent use of drugs and violence in both homes and neighborhoods. These factors bring about what researchers refer to as “toxic” effects in the brain chemistry of children and adolescents. These “toxic” effects have been proven to exert a negative impact on children’s social skills and their achievement in academics. At the Catholic Urban Education Conference, teachers learned that inner-city children’s stress response systems are overactive because of the troubled environment in which they live.

 

Consequently, these children come to school nervous, fearful, and stressed. Because of conditions from what is termed adverse childhood experiences, teachers of students in the inner-city Catholic schools strive to create a safe environment for them.

 

Fortunately, the Catholic teachers’ unifying religious beliefs, directives, and teaching goals also provide students with stability and a sense of security–all of which help in their learning. Catholic school teachers employ various approaches to learning so that students learn to think in different ways and find what works best for them and gives them confidence. One method is “sequencing” in which students go through steps in the learning process, steps that can be measured in a sequence with color coding, timelines, or illustrations.

 

Another classroom method is team teaching. Students can often more easily relate to lessons by having different approaches to learning presented to them by various teachers.

Helping the Underachieving Student

Underachievement typically stems from emotional or psychological turbulence, not laziness.

Statistics regarding waning academic performance are troubling: Jo Ann Natale of The Education Digest determined that approximately 40 to 60 percent of students are underachievers. If your child isn’t living up to his or her potential, however, you can use this gentle guidance to get them back on track:

Have Your Child Screened For A Learning Disability

No amount of tutoring or positive reinforcement will help your child if he or she has an underlying learning disability. It is imperative that children in this instance are screened as soon as possible. Many students with ADHD and Inattentive ADHD aren’t properly diagnosed until high school, college or adulthood. That’s a long time to go without help.

Don’t Compare

One of the best ways to reinforce underachievement is comparisons that make children feel inadequate: “Why can’t you get good grades like your sister?” Comparisons to siblings, friends, neighbors — even yourself — can scald. If your child’s battling depression and insecurity, they’ll only intensify.

Schedule Parent-teacher Meetings

If you’ve noticed a problem, your child’s teacher probably has too. A parent-teacher meeting, including your child, would help. Meeting with a teacher will also alert him or her to whether your child cuts class or forgets an assignment, so that you can be notified. If your child hasn’t progressed after a month, revisit the teacher.

Build Your Child’s Confidence

Praise every victory your child has, small or large. Always use positive reinforcement — “I know you’ll do well on the test” — rather than negative reinforcement — “Don’t fail the test.” If they are particularly hard on themselves after having failed the test, reassure them that they are smart and will do better next time. Give sincere praise, not platitudes.

Your child may be wired differently than others, but that doesn’t mean they cannot live up to their full potential. Use these tips to help your underachieving student get back on the road to achievement. And the best thing you can do? Always remind them that they are loved, regardless of their school performance.

New Tax Law Could Offer Great Financial Opportunity in Paying Catholic School Tuition

Originally posted on TheCatholicSpiritWV.org

A new tax law passed late last year could offer a great financial opportunity for parents or guardians paying Catholic school tuition or wishing to send children to Catholic school.

The law contained a provision to expand “529 accounts,” tax-advantaged savings programs formerly limited to college costs, to include K-12 expenses. 529 accounts are typically begun by parents, who name their child as the designated beneficiary, and make small investments over a long period of time.

Money invested in the account grows tax-free, as long as funds are used to pay for education expenses. Beginning in 2018, up to $10,000 in tuition at Catholic elementary and high schools is an allowable expense under both federal and most State laws. These 529 policy changes could mean more families are able to choose a Catholic education.

Before discussing the details of this opportunity and how families can use 529s, it is important to point out that 529 plans are investments and carry risk. Anyone thinking of investing in one should consult a financial advisor who can provide guidance tailored to individual situations.

How should Catholics patents take advantage of this new option supporting educational choice? Families who are already enrolled in Catholic schools or considering future enrollment, should talk to a financial advisor about opening an account to fund their tuition costs.

The expansion of  529 accounts to include K-12 expenses offers an exciting opportunity for families to access a Catholic education for their children.

Why Catholic Schools?

Because With an Incarnate View of the World, there are no Secular Subjects

Deciding what type of school to enroll your child in can be difficult given the many options within today’s educational system. They each come with different philosophies, practices, and teaching methods, all of which have an enormous impact on a given child’s development. Catholic schools, specifically, come with a wide range of benefits that are great for parents wanting to incorporate their faith in their child’s upbringing.

A Catholic education is more than just general teaching. Spirituality is often balanced within regular courses, teaching students that God is a part of their lives both in and out of school. This can effectively teach them about the plan God has set in place, and how to look out for the “blueprints,” so to speak. As their knowledge and awareness of God grows, so does their faith, thus leading to more activity within their communities and families.

That being said, civic responsibility is a large component of Catholic education as well. Students will learn to be active within their local churches, as well as their local communities. Developing a charitable mindset and one of selflessness is highly productive, and something that will, in turn, benefit more than just the individual.

A great sense of discipline is taught through this education, as students are challenged and encouraged to make decisions based on what they feel Christ would do; not only physically, but verbally as well. Through the many texts students will be reading, moral and ethical lessons are taught throughout, building a foundation to help them make better decisions throughout their lives. One should do good as an act of dignity, not always as a means of benefiting themselves.

Catholic education is also rich with arts and culture; something that is, unfortunately, losing traction within most public and private schools. Being cultured in today’s world is just as important as being well educated. Most Catholic schools offer classes like Drama, Chorus, Music, and Art, all being governed by the philosophy of divine praise.

Teachers within Catholic schools are often highly motivated as well, ensuring that your child will receive a proper education. Rather than seeing the position as nothing more than a job, Catholic teachers are passionate about their work, most of whom having received a Catholic education themselves. In many cases, teachers go above and beyond their responsibilities on paper to help a student in need, the goal being to help them grow and develop to their full potential.

Each type of education system has its advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right one for your child is crucial, and knowing the benefits that come with each is just as important. Catholic schools are great for families of religion, or for families who are interested in joining the church, and the benefits mentioned above are just a few of many.

NCEA 2018 President’s Awards Recipients Announced

Originally posted on  www.NCEA.org

NCEA President/CEO Dr. Thomas Burnford, remarked, “By their example of living the Gospel, the honorees display the virtues taught in Catholic schools. These six people have influenced Catholic schools through their passion and commitment to Catholic education.”

The President’s Awards are awards given in the names of individuals and organizations who display the significant virtues of contribution, support, leadership and development to impact Catholic education in the United States.

Dr. Merylann Schuttloffel, professor of educational administration and policy studies at The Catholic University of America, will be honored with the C. Albert Koob Merit Award. This award is given to an individual or organization that has made a meaningful contribution to Catholic education at any level in teaching, administration, parish religious education, research, publication or educational leadership. Dr. Schuttloffel’s exemplary guidance has produced graduates who serve in Catholic leadership positions around the country.

Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership of the Archdiocese of New York, will be presented with the John F. Meyers Award. This award is bestowed upon an individual or organization that has provided substantial support for Catholic education in the areas of development, public relations, scholarship programs, financial management or government relations. Mr. Virgadamo has worked in over 95% of the Catholic dioceses in the United States, and has guided schools, parishes and dioceses to raise more than $500 million in new funding through philanthropic giving, ensuring that schools’ futures are secure through thoughtful strategic planning, improved governance organization and effective marketing.

John Elcesser, executive director of the Indiana Non-public Education Association, will be recognized with the Leonard F. DeFiore Parental Choice Advocate Award. This award honors a person or organization that has demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting full and fair parental choice in education. The right to choose the schools they believe best serve their children is a rallying cry for parents of modest means who, he argues, have a legitimate claim to public support. As a school choice advocate, Mr. Elcesser brings the unique lens of having served both as a private school leader and a public policy advocate. In Indiana, John was a leader of the coalition that successfully passed tax-credit scholarship and voucher legislation.

The Academy of Catholic Educators (ACES), which is based at Notre Dame of Maryland University, is the honoree for the Dr. Karen M. Ristau Innovations Award. This award is reserved for an individual, school or program that has furthered the mission of Catholic education through an innovative program or approach. In the five years since its inception the ACES program has grown to assisting over 30 schools in both the Archdiocese of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. to the point that there are more requests for services than time available for the current two instructional coaches. This program has changed the face of participating schools from whole group, teacher-centered instruction to engaged, student-centered instruction.

Mayra Alza Wilson, coordinator of Latino outreach for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, will be honored with the Catherine T. McNamee, CSJ Award. This award is given in recognition of promoting a vision of Catholic education that welcomes and serves cultural and economic diversity or serves students with diverse needs. During Ms. Alza Wilson’s tenure the Latino population increased from 4.5% to 18.8% in the ten targeted schools of the urban core of Cincinnati and Dayton. These ten schools in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati experienced a 98% retention rate for Latino students for the 2015-2016 school year, 2% of the students moved out of the state.

This year, NCEA added a Special Recognition Award to be presented posthumously in the name of Dr. Stephen Phelps, former president of Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, CA. This award is in recognition and appreciation for 40 plus years of service and dedication to Catholic education and his tremendous impact on Catholic schools in the San Francisco bay area.

More information on the 2018 President’s Awards is available online.

Virgadamo Named One of the Most Influential People in the Last 25 Years of Catholic Education

Originally posted on Zip06.com

Steven Virgadamo was unanimously chosen by the Board of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) as this year’s recipient of the 2018 Monsignor John Meyers Presidential Award. This award is presented to an individual who has provided substantial support for Catholic education through contributions in the areas of institutional advancement, financial management, and philanthropic support. Such contributions should be recognized as having current significance at the national level.   Previous recipients of the Monsignor Meyers Presidential Award include: Terrance Cardinal Cooke, Joseph Cardinal Bernadin, and Dr. Elinor Ford.

Steven’s professional career has taken him from working with one of the premier consulting firms in the nation, extending his work to forming leaders at the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program and beyond. He has worked in over 90% of the Catholic dioceses in the United States and has provided counsel to more than 6000 Catholic schools.

In announcing the award, members of the NCEA Board referred to Steve as one of the most influential people in Catholic Education over the past 25 years. When the Archdiocese of New York began its bold and courageous restructuring to a regionalized system of Catholic schools, – “ Build Bold Futures”, they turned to Steven Virgadamo to provide the leadership for forming Catholic School leaders who could effectively take the helm of schools under such an innovative and bold new school governance. Steve is recognized globally for his writing, speaking but most importantly for empowering leaders to embrace visionary change.   

The Catholic Church may be reinventing how Catholic schools are governed and managed, but is through the leadership of Steven Virgadamo that they are re-inventing how Principals and Superintendents are being developed to lead its schools into the next generation.