Tag: Steve Virgadamo (page 1 of 3)

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.

 

(4) 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.

 

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.

Steve Virgadamo Selected to Launch the Entrepreneurial Leadership Series at New York’s Fordham University

This is a press release, and can be found at  PR.com

New York, NY, October 14, 2016 –(PR.com)– Fordham University – the Jesuit University of New York – selected Steve Virgadamo to launch the 2016-2017 Entrepreneurial Leadership Series. The invitation only Leadership Series sponsored by Fordham University will focus on Leading through Crisis. Dr. Gerald Cattaro, Director of the Fordham Center for School leadership said: “It is always easy to find spirituality during times of joy, but leaders are called to seek grace and strength during times of crisis and sorrow as well.”

Steven Virgadamo a long time advocate of school choice is an expert in managing and leading schools, colleges and universities through dynamic planning processes. On November 4, 2016, Virgadamo will be at the Fordham Lincoln Center Campus to speak with hundreds of Board Members as well as the Chief Executive Officers and the Chief Operation Officers representing hundreds of schools from throughout the United States. Virgadamo said his talk entitled Planning to Avert Crisis is designed to not only provide practical tools but to inspire hope and feed the spirit of passionate leaders committed to educational reform.

Mr. Virgadamo will bring insight to the Fordham Entrepreneurial Series as he was one of the VIP delegates from the United States invited by the Vatican Congregation to participate in the World Congress on Catholic Education in 2015. For more than 30 years, has worked directly with thousands of Catholic schools both within the continental United States and abroad. In 2012, the Alliance for Catholic Education Program at the University of Notre Dame tapped him to consult with Bishops and Catholic School Superintendents throughout the United States to initiate overall school improvement plans. In 2014, he was invited to return to his New York City roots where he is currently contributing to the architectural re-engineering of the Catholic School System in the Archdiocese of New York.

Don’t Give Up on Our Catholic Schools

Superintendents and the National Catholic Educational Association respond to “Reinventing Catholic Schools”

Note: This post is originally from America Magazine.

 

“Reinventing Catholic Schools,” by Charles Zech (8/29), is accompanied by a photo of the entrance to a large, run down building with broken windows. The picture reflects the bleak message of the entire piece, which fails to mention the incredible work being done in Catholic schools across the country today. As the superintendents of Catholic schools and members of the National Catholic Educational Association, we work each and every day in schools that look nothing like what the author describes.

Are there challenges in Catholic schools today? Of course. But there were also challenges 50 years ago. The religious who built and served Catholic schools for generations were heroes and saints, and we are honored to stand on their shoulders working with these hallowed institutions. And as people of faith, we believe that God has chosen us and those who work hard every day in Catholic schools across the country to serve at this time.

Professor Zech writes, “It is no longer good stewardship on the part of Catholic dioceses and parishes to continue supporting the old model of Catholic parochial schools.” This implies that those dedicated servants who sacrifice and work daily in these institutions, along with students and families, are wasting church resources. We see funds spent on Catholic schools as an investment in children and the future of the church. The idea of stewardship is to return with increase to the Lord, and research consistently demonstrates that graduates of Catholic schools are among the most academically prepared, generous and civically engaged.

Professor Zech writes that “over time the Catholic population has migrated to the suburbs and increasingly to the South and West…. But the parishes and parochial school buildings still tend to be located in urban areas in the Northeast and Midwest.” In fact, there are already many thriving Catholic schools and parishes in the South and West. Their growth is driven by young, mostly immigrant families who desire a Catholic school education. To give up on these vital institutions would be akin to eliminating Catholic schools in the Northeast 100 years ago when they provided the foundation that allowed Irish, Italian, Polish and other immigrant populations to work their way up in U.S. society. The same work, with the same goal, continues today.

We encourage Professor Zech to visit Catholic schools across the country to see the incredible innovations taking place. These include dual-language immersion, an increase in services to students with special needs, work-study schools like the Cristo Rey Network and ever-increasing support from the community—not only the Catholic community but local communities that understand the value of Catholic schools.

The true story of Catholic schools in the United States is their continued success despite difficulties and their ability to overcome challenges. Catholic schools continue to outperform public and private schools and do a particularly effective job with low-income, minority students. Professor Zech writes that “many urban parochial schools find themselves serving a population that struggles to afford parochial school tuition. Many of these students are not Catholic.” This again indicates a lack of understanding of Catholic schools, especially in the West, where the urban population is largely Catholic. Shuttering schools that serve low-income populations, preserving only those that serve the suburban well-off, contradicts our vital mission to provide a “preferential option for the poor.” Affordability of our schools is a substantial challenge, even while our schools attempt to maintain a relatively low cost of tuition. The momentum of the school choice movement has greatly assisted our families; to date, 27 states and the District of Columbia have some form of parental choice program, and the trend is toward greater levels of public funding support.

To further provide assistance to those low-income families, there is tremendous philanthropic support and great partnerships, from the Catholic Education Foundation in Los Angeles to the Catholic Schools Foundation in Boston and so many more. The value of our schools is perhaps most evident in weekly giving from our Catholic parishioners, many of whom do not have school-age children of their own, who give selflessly to their local parishes knowing that they are supporting Catholic school education, which brings life and vitality to our parishes.

If, as Professor Zech states, the issue of a lack of Catholic giving is such a significant limitation, we should focus on that cause rather than the effect of reduced funds for ministries. Catholic schools are a ministry and continue to be one of the church’s most effective instruments for passing on the faith from one generation to the next.

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That might be the best argument against what Professor Zech proposes. Converting Catholic schools, which infuse the faith throughout the curriculum and the school day, to charter schools would change the essential character of the institutions. There is no such thing as a Catholic charter school. Surely, public charter schools try to mimic Catholic schools with character education and uniforms, but there is not a character education program or a values-based curriculum that compares to teaching the faith. If Catholic schools disappear in great numbers, parishes will not be far behind.

Catholic schools should be seen by all the faithful as a vital component to passing on the faith. Yes, there is a need to investigate alternative structures and models, but it is certainly not the time to give up or propose simplistic one-size-fits-all solutions. While there are problems, there are also real solutions—solutions that are being implemented across the country and that reflect a focus on growth, not resignation to decline. We are moving away from the hospice mentality to a growth mindset that is optimistic in its approach to growth. We are entering a genuine renaissance period in Catholic education, as evidenced by innovative programming, a surge of enrollment in certain regions and renewed confidence for the future.

Every day the 150,000 Catholic school educators in the country, supported by pastors, superintendents, bishops and the National Catholic Educational Association, teach and form students because they believe in Catholic education. We welcome Professor Zech and his colleagues from the Villanova Church Leadership Roundtable to visit with us and any of our Catholic schools to see the great work being done.

Kevin Baxter, Ed.D.
Senior Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Debra Brillante
Superintendent for Elementary Schools
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Thomas W. Burnford, D.Min.
President/CEO
National Catholic Educational Association

Susan M. Gibbons
Director of Educational Services, Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Christopher Knight
Secretary for Catechetical Formation and Education/Superintendent of Schools
Diocese of Cleveland

Dr. Jan Daniel Lancaster
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of New Orleans

Dr. Timothy J. McNiff
Superintendent of Schools
Archdiocese of New York

Christopher Mominey
Chief Operating Officer and Secretary for Education
Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Kurt Nelson, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Education
Archdiocese of St. Louis

Jim Rigg, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Archdiocese of Chicago

Pinterest for Catholic Teachers

Not too long ago I did a summary of some resources found around the web for Catholic educators. One of the resources linked to was Pinterest, but I felt as though the brief summary didn’t get it’s due for how useful Pinterest can be to teachers and faculty in classrooms of all ages.

 

What is Pinterest? Think of your home corkboard, a place where you pin up recipes found in magazines, pictures, to-do lists, and inspiration. Pinterest is a digital, collaborative version of that board. It is an incredible wealth of creative and inspiring projects, insights, and wisdom. Pinterest consists of visual bookmarks, called “pins”, as links to websites, blogs, and articles, attached with a picture. You can sort “pins” into “boards” that you create and label. You can have boards for different grades, different holidays, different lesson plans, and more. Visual, easy, and intuitive to use, it is an excellent resource that you are sure to pick up quickly.

 

Technology in the classroom is a constant discussion in all schools, and Pinterest is a great example of ways to utilize it. This blog from Kelly Kraus on the National Catholic Educators Association webpage even talks of creating an account on Pinterest that the entire class has access to, in order for students to share ideas and resources for projects together in one place.

 

With the success of C3 (Catholic Communication Collaboration – a conference for Catholic teachers, parish staff, and educators about technology and it’s uses in a Catholic education) growing every year in attendance and in offerings, this conversation is becoming ever more relevant.

 

Pinterest has become an important venue for professional development for thousands of teachers. Teaching tips, lesson plans, craft projects, source material research, and even classroom decoration can be found on Pinterest. There are tips for teaching math to dyslexic or visual learners, to middle school science lessons, to ways to teach math concepts through dance moves.

 

When professional development training varies drastically based on school, and may be too rigorous on classical teaching while leaving creative ideas behind, or focus too much on inclusivity of the children’s learning styles while not focusing on concrete lesson plans, Pinterest is a great “There when you need it” well to draw from for just about any kind of teaching issue. It is by no means a replacement for lack of teacher education and development, but as an educator, Pinterest might just be the most inspiration available in one place.
Back to Kelly Kraus, who says: “Another thing I love about Pinterest is the material provided when searching for specific lesson ideas. A quick search for a lesson subject, such as “Good Samaritan,” showcases lessons for Catholic classrooms, as well as lessons from other faith traditions. These activities and lesson plans can serve as guides for catechists to create lessons that are specific to their classrooms and their lesson plan objectives.”

LEADERSHIP and VISION CRITICAL TO SCHOOL SUCCESS

Proverbs 29:18 clearly states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”  All memorable achievements are brought about by leaders with a vision.

Each year as Catholic school leaders prepare for the new year, the successful ones recognizes that flying is not enough.  These leaders know that it is God’s work they do and to just fly is not enough, as they need to soar. To soar requires school leaders to establish and articulate an inspirational vision for their school. God uses visions to excite school leaders because excited leaders motivate teachers and staff to exceed their comfort zones. I’ve seen it with my own eyes – with vision, teachers feel empowered and vibrant. And when teachers are empowered and vibrant, student achievement increases exponentially.

Last week I had the opportunity to speak with newly hired  teachers in the Archdiocese of New York – many of them are first time teachers. I 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, some the cohort of new teachers adopted a mantra of “Not Under my Watch.” Imagine nearly several dozen 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 2016-2017 school year?

 

  • Will students in your classroom withdraw from 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.”

 

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 be sullied. While working at the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education Program I was often presented with opportunities to speak with new Catholic school teachers. Below are some of the thoughts I 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. I provide you with them today so that Catholic school leaders everywhere can use as appropriate in sharing with new teachers.  Some of the thoughts might be good for veteran teachers to hear again as well.

 

14 TIPS FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS

  1. Put your own oxygen mask on first and 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.

 

  1. Be yourself.  If you’re young, you’ve probably never been called Mr. Jones or Ms. 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. 

 

  1. 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 time to learn. School leaders need to be supported not weakened by behavior which is destructive to the Catholic School community.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.  
  4. 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!
  5. Don’t “go it alone.” Get to know all the teachers in your school and make friends with the cooks, custodians, aides, and secretaries. We are all formators of children, just each with a different role to play. 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.
  6. Dive in! Don’t be a person who clocks in at 7:30 and clocks out at 4 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.
  1. Pray for your students and their families. Your most important work is to bring a piece of heaven into the classroom with you. Think of your roll book as your prayer group. Never open it without praying for your young scholars and their families.
  2. Think before you speak; if you do, you won’t speak very often, for there is a great deal to think about in education. Have the courage to try something else if what you’re doing isn’t working.
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. Remember that a good day is not necessarily smooth, painless and hassle free.

May God bless you during these last days of summer especially as you formulate a vision for your school and work with teachers to prepare for the return of our young scholars and saints in formation.

Jesus, the Apostles and Lesson Plans…….

Jesus, the Apostles and Lesson Plans…….

(a little levity for Teachers as we await the return of our young scholars and saints in formation)

 

Then Jesus took his disciples up to the mountaintop, then gathering them around him, he began to teach them and said:

 

Blessed are the poor.

Blessed are the hungry.

Blessed are those who mourn.

Blessed are the oppressed…

 

Then Simon Peter interrupted…

“Do I have to write this down”

 

And Andrew said “ Are we supposed to know this?”

 

James said “ I don’t have papyrus with me”?

 

And Phillip said “Will there be a test on this?”

 

And John said “The other disciples didn’t have to learn this.”

 

And Matthew said “Can I be excused?”

 

And Judas said “What does this have to do with the real world?”

 

Then one of the Pharisees present asked to see Jesus’ lesson plan and inquired “ Where is your anticipatory set? Where are your objectives in the cognitive domain and exactly which standard are you covering today?”

 

And Jesus wept!

Sacramentals

Sacramentals

Note: This post is from srmarymichael.wordpress.com

Sacramentals – Things that draw our minds and hearts to the Lord.  To help us observe Lent well, we here at school wear crucifixes daily.  The children typically leave them on their desks when they head home at the end of the day, lest they be forgotten the next morning at home.  They are little simple crucifixes, but they remind us of Jesus, and they get us used to wearing such sacramentals.  Have you considered wearing something similar during Lent?  A friend of mine teaches in the public school system but always wears a crucifix or Marian symbol.

Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate

Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate

Note: This post is from msgrfoy.com

Sister St. Henry Moloney was the sister of Fr. Oliver Moloney.  She spent many years in Missionary work and spoke perfect Spanish. She helped found of the Sisters of Our Lady Immaculate.  My friend Fr. Oliver Moloney and I visited her at their Marian Residence Retirement Home in Cambridge Ontario when we were driving to the first Call to Holiness Conference in the USA in 1990s.