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.