Category: Development (page 1 of 4)

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.

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.

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.

Catholic School Leadership is a Reflective Practice

Catholic School improvement efforts rely heavily on Leadership. In my 30 plus years of partnering with more than 6000 Catholic schools in 120 Catholic dioceses I can say with certainty that the difference between a good Catholic school and a great one is the school leader.

I encourage all Catholic school leaders and in particular first year school leaders to be reflective, particularly over the Christmas break each year, \as I have learned that a reflective practice is a quality of a school leader. After winning 3 National Champion ships, Knute Rockne said: “There is no reason for me to continue unless I can improve.”

Over the past few days of this Christmas break, I have been reflecting myself, particularly on the qualities of an effective Catholic school leader and believe strongly that the most effective Catholic school leaders – serve first – build trust and always, always bear witness to their values.

Catholic school leaders must be great communicators as it is they who articulate the vision, mission, and profile of the grad at graduation to staff, parents and the larger Catholic community. They need to be focused on building a culture which will have a positive impact on student learning, achievement and Faith formation. The very best Catholic school leaders manage by walking around as they get to know the students by name and can by observation identify areas where teachers can improve. Most importantly, effective Catholic school leaders are filled with a missionary zeal and unwilling to ever give up on a young scholar. The very best Catholic school leaders are the epitome of pastoral and instructional leadership for the students, staff and parents.

Teaching Easter in Classrooms

Easter is the culmination of the most important week in the Christian calendar, and marks the grand, triumphant culmination of the season of Lent.

 

Although Easter is commonly associated with bunnies and eggs, chicks and flowers, the true meaning of Easter centers on the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. When teaching Easter in the classroom, it is a good idea to strike a clean balance between these two contrasting themes.

 

The colorful pastels and baby animals of Easter are playful and friendly for young students, but teachers should not neglect to tell the story of Jesus and his amazing gift to humanity.

 

In the days leading up to Easter, it is common to read from the Bible the appropriate events pertaining to Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, his subsequent betrayal, and his crucifixion on the Cross.

 

Reading directly from the Bible is appropriate for older students, but younger ones may have a difficult time responding to the formal language of the Scriptures. Find a careful translation of the relevant Bible accounts in a language easy for young students to understand.

 

Another thing you can do is engage your students in a discussion. Ask them questions about what Jesus death and resurrection mean to them. In the days leading up to Easter (possibly on the Friday before), arrange a slideshow of the Stations of the Cross and ask them to explain what is happening, if they can.

 

Of course, Easter should be a fun and exciting day as well. Perhaps you could stage an Easter egg hunt in the classroom, or simply bring in some candy to share. If you have kids, especially younger ones, you could print off a collection of images and allow them to pick their favorite ones to color.

 

Many of these examples primarily pertain to younger students. What can you do to engage high schoolers in a holiday that is often geared towards children? Encourage your students to write. Perhaps they could write about what Jesus’ sacrifice means to them personally. Another idea would be to have them reflect on how they have changed and grown from children to young adults. Perhaps incorporate some reflective music and some meditation.

 

These are just a few ideas. The links below will refer you to all the resources cited above and a few more.

 

Resources:

Incorporating Lent Into Your Class Curriculum

Children are keenly aware of the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday and the conclusion of Lent on Easter Sunday but often lose focus on the process between. In an effort to help them have a new outlook on Lent, here are a few suggestions.

 

(1) A Lenten calendar

One of the best Lenten calendars for kids is at http://www.catholicicing.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/printable-lent-calendar-for-kids.pdf. It allows the child to visualize the Lenten path with key symbols for meatless days as well as ample space for him or her to write in their Lenten offering or sacrifice of the day.

 

(2) Stations of the Cross

Talk with the class about the significance of each of the Stations of the Cross. Walk the kids through each station and use it as an opportunity to remind them of Jesus’s tremendous love for us. Perhaps you can take the Stations lesson outside the classroom, into the Church (if connected to your school) or into a prayer garden to allow the children to reflect on them.

 

(3) Penance

Lent is a time of preparation, and one of the best methods to prepare for the miracle of Easter Sunday is to repent our sins. Schedule a time for the kids to experience the healing power of reconciliation with a priest. This is a good time to review with them how the sacrament works and ease any of their anxieties related to it.

 

(4) Sacrifice

Kids know they should give up something but are never sure what to do. Give them creative and age-appropriate suggestions that could perhaps be implemented as a class. For example, on Tuesdays, the class will drink water for lunch and give up other beverages like juice and milk. On Thursdays, no desserts will be eaten at lunch.

 

(5) Encourage Extra Acts of Kindness and Empathy

Lent is a great time to reinforce the universal themes of kindness and empathy within the classroom. Instead of giving up something, the kids can do additional things each day as their Lenten offering. Helping a fellow student in need, praying for the family member of a classmate, or just offering a smile to a child that may be having a bad day are important things that can create permanent behavioral changes after Lent is over. Encourage them to be kinder than necessary to their friends and family members during the Lenten season. This is particularly important  when bullying becomes more and more important to address in the classroom.

 

Age-appropriate Lenten observances or traditions can turn into life-long habits for school children. In addition to these ideas, ask the students to be creative and contribute ideas to your classroom’s observance of Lent.

 

How To Become A Catholic School Teacher

Have you wanted to become a Catholic school teacher, but you are not quite sure where to start to reach your career goal? Perhaps you were raised with a Catholic education or you are drawn to the faith and want to share it while teaching youth.

Whether you are a new teacher or you have been teaching for years with many teacher resources and ideas under your belt, you may be interested to know how teaching in a private Catholic school may differ from a public school.

 

What Do I Need to Teach In a Catholic School?
The good news about teaching in a Catholic school is that you don’t have to worry about having a state certificate to be a teacher, although it definitely doesn’t hurt if you do. You may be someone with other types of certification, making it more accessible for many individuals who may be looking for a job right away.

What you will need when teaching in a catholic school is a degree in the subject you wish to teach. If you want to teach theology or history, for example, a bachelor degree in these areas can get you through the door.

Finding a job in a Catholic school may also depend on the demand in your area. If it is a predominantly Catholic area, you may find a few options to choose from with schools hiring. If not, many positions may already be filled.

A commitment to holistic teaching is also required in this type of teaching job. While you may not be expected to portray an extremely religious attitude, the values of the faith and the example of the morals that are defined in the Catholic faith should be evident in your speech and actions and in your teacher resources.

 

Why Should You Work in a Catholic School?
While the pay may not be as attractive as public school salaries, you will be able to have more control in your classroom and will typically have a smaller class ratio than you would in a public school. The teaching and work environment is most likely an inclusive one where you will feel a part of a team and not just “on your own” trying to make a difference. If you studied religion or theology, you most likely want to teach in a school where these subjects are taught and highly required.

If you are of the Catholic faith and want to help the Catholic education system, you may find it to be an inspiring place to teach where you can share your beliefs and help your students learn while you are at it.

 

Steven Virgadamo discusses the Fall Semester, Lunch and Student Focus

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

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

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

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

New Classical Catholic Academy Opens In Colorado

Classical education is an approach to education with origins in the classical world of Rome and Greece. Students who study classical education learn with an emphasis on seeking after truth and goodness through study of the liberal arts. The liberal arts include logic, rhetoric, grammar, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and music. It’s a unique way of learning and it appeals to a number of parents, especially millennial parents. In an effort to broaden children’s horizons and reach out to millennials parents, a new Catholic elementary school that uses this method will be coming to Northern Colorado.

 

This new school, called Frassati Catholic Academy, will be opening in Thornton, an area that has recently seen an increase in its Catholic population. Kevin Kijewski, the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, has stated that the choice to make the school a classical education school was because of the desires of the nearby millennial parents whose children will be entering elementary school.

 

Frassati Catholic Academy is not only unique in its teaching methods. It is also the first regional Catholic academy to be opened by the Archdiocese of Denver. This means that the school will not be associated with one single parish. Instead, it will serve a wide variety of families in numerous parishes throughout the Northern Colorado region.

 

The school will offer programs for children in junior kindergarten through fifth grade. When the school begins operation in 2017, they expect the number of children enrolled to be anywhere from 120 to 240 students. For each subsequent year after 2017, the school will add one additional grade up to grade 8.

 

According to a letter from the Archbishop, the school’s teaching will be rooted in past civilizations such as Greece and Rome. Art, music and Latin will be key parts of the curriculum. He also stated that the classical philosophy of teaching will better prepare students for the rapidly changing world in which we live today. The school’s website states that now more than ever, the modern world requires the thinking skills that are taught through the classical education approach. This style will allow children to be ethical problem solvers, literate evaluators, critical thinkers, and socially responsible citizens of the world.

 

The school is named after Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati, an Italian man who loved adventure, the outdoors, and social activism, and died at age of 25. He was beatified 77 years after his death by Pope St. John Paul II in 2002. The passions he possessed throughout his life make him an excellent patron for a Catholic school in the Colorado area.

 

It will be exciting to see children attend Frassati Catholic Academy and gain a unique education that they can utilize as they move forward in the modern world.