Tag: private schools (page 1 of 2)

Enrollment Management – A New Normal or Not?

A number of schools are saying they have enrollment concerns for 2020-2021 and others are closing prematurely before seeing what the Fall enrollment will be.  Steve Virgadamo believes that massive school closings may not all be related to pandemic issues. He believes there are steps you can take, even in the “Normal Next Covid” economy, to ensure that your school not only survives but flourishes. The trend of moving students back into government-sponsored schools predates the Covid19 pandemic, with affluent families leading the migration to public schools.

 Bursari Executive Vice President Steve Virgadamo shares with us some thoughts on leadership and Enrollment Marketing.  

Steve says it is not just the pandemic…..

 

  1.     “Own your Brand”
  • Your brand is the essence of who you are. It is a promise to your families and the delivery of that promise is essential to increasing market share. Your brand is unique to you. Your attributes, offerings and whom you serve need to be expressed but they need to be defined and used constantly in all school communication whether printed, digital, or verbal.

 

  1.     “Cater to the Millennial Market”
    • Start by defining the millennial parent – your customer – and identify what millennials are seeking in an education for their child(ren);
    • Identify what unique experiences, resources, and tools you have available that can be used to meet the millennial parents’ expectations;
    • Remember today’s parents are not comparing the customer experience with other schools. They are comparing the speed and comprehensiveness of your customer service to the customer care they experience in every other aspect of their life. Think Amazon and Disney experiences.

       
  1.     “On-Line Marketing Rules the Day”
    • Digital marketing is vital. TV, radio, direct mail, lawn signs etc. are past their “sell by date.” The digital marketing space is expanding every hour. Social media ads should be a primary component of your marketing strategy. They are force multipliers that allow you to broaden your reach while engaging your existing audience in meaningful ways.
    • Digital storytelling is a creative way to familiarize people with your brand. You can show one digital advertisement after another in a specific sequence to tell your story.
    • Hypertargeting is the ability to deliver a tailored message to a specific niche audience. Hypertargeting is the most efficient way to both use and stretch your marketing budget.

 

  1.     “Measure and Assess”

Most schools fail to track and assess the effectiveness of their marketing plan. It is important to remember that you cannot improve what you do not measure.

      • Keep a simple log of all aspects of the enrollment process. Record data such as website visits, information requests, campus tours, applications, deposits, etc.
      • Monitor and track student attrition

         
  1.     “Keep Your Finger on the Market’s Pulse”
    • A benefit of telling your school’s story across digital platforms is that you can watch in real time as your constituents and prospective parents/students interact with your story. Their behavior will let you know what is speaking to them and what is not.
    • Test, adapt and refine your marketing story. Your story shapes your brand. Your brand increases student inquiries and customer service converts inquiries to enrolled students.

 

We would love to hear more about your enrollment management best practices. Email them to Steve Virgadamo – svirgadamo@msn.com.  We are all in this together.

Hope Springs Eternal

In a huge win for Catholic schools, the Supreme Court sided with 3 Montana families who asked the court to declare that excluding religious schools from student aid programs is unconstitutional. The Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue looked at whether the Montana Supreme Court violated the U.S. Constitution when it struck down a tax credit scholarship program that allowed students to attend private schools, including religious schools. The decision in this case could have major implications for the use of public dollars to help parents choose a school for their child to attend.

 

In a joint statement, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference committee on Religious Liberty and Bishop Michael Barber, Chair of the Bishops’ Education committee said:

 

“The Supreme Court has dealt a blow to the odious legacy of anti- Catholicism in America. Blaine Amendments which are in 37 states’ constitutions were the product of nativism and bigotry. They were never meant to ensure government neutrality towards religion but were expressions of hostility towards the Catholic Church. We are grateful that the Supreme Court has taken an important step that will end this shameful legacy.”

 

Secretary of Education Betsy Devos said: “This decision represents a potential “turning point” in the sad and static history of American education and called on state legislators to “seize” the extraordinary opportunity to expand education choice options. The bigoted Blaine amendments and other restrictions like them are unconstitutional and have blatantly discriminated against students and families based on faith and have forced parents to enroll children in schools which do not match their values.”

 

Proponents of school choice said it was a major triumph in the courts,” Steve Virgadamo, formerly a Director with the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education and currently Executive Vice President of Bursari.com said: “School Choice is a civil rights issue and the weight that this decision carries is immense. It is a victory for student achievement, parental control, and educational opportunities for the poor and marginalized.”

 

Attorney General William Barr said: “That because of the SCOTUS ruling in the Espinoza Case, a state may no longer disqualify religious schools from scholarships or other programs solely because they are religious.”

 

The loss of Catholic schools would be an American tragedy. It would set back opportunities for generations of low income and inner-city neighborhoods. We cannot accept this for America’s children.  The presence of diverse educational options in our country – a thriving government-sponsored school system and a strong network of independent schools, including religious schools – has always been a source of American vitality.  The Supreme Court decision is indeed monumental, and in the 2020-2021 Covid world, there is still much more to be done to protect the educational opportunities for parents, but Hope Springs Eternal.

Why Parents Choose a Catholic Education for Their Children

Choosing a school for your children to go to is an incredibly important decision for a parent to make. You want to select the best possible education for them, but where should you look? Although you could look to your area’s public schools or one of the many private schools that exist, one thing you shouldn’t discount is sending your children to Catholic school. 

 

Why choose Catholic school over the other options? Here are a few reasons to consider

 

Role Models

 

The teachers at Catholic schools often serve as moral role models for their students. These are the people who will be spending hours at a time with your children, so it’s understandable to want teachers who share the same values that your family does. These values often start being taught while the kids are still at home, so choosing a Catholic school for education will mirror the beliefs taught at home and act as an extension of those previous lessons and ideals.

 

Exposure

 

Obviously, sending your children to a Catholic school will create daily exposure of the Catholic faith to them. This will build a strong religious foundation for your kids as lessons on the Catholic faith are taught every day. By the time they graduate, your children will be more likely to continue being involved in the Church than not. Likewise, they’ll be more likely to pray, donate to the Church, and have an identity solidly in Catholicism. 

 

Community

 

Being involved in the Church creates a sense of community, and this extends to Catholic schools. Being involved in a Catholic school creates an easier time for children to develop that sense of community with their peers and fellow parishioners. The Church offers fellowship, friendship, and service opportunities for those who are interested. For kids far from their families to attend school, the Church and their school can become a central hub for their community and involvement.

 

Education

 

A Catholic school is a high-quality and relatively affordable educational opportunity for kids. Private school is notoriously expensive, but many Catholic schools and dioceses have tuition assistance programs for those who need financial aid. These schools are well worth the cost, as graduates from Catholic schools are more likely to go to college and consistently outperform public and other private schools on national and standardized tests.

Look Up, Not Down – Planning for the Opening of Schools is not a Dark Hole, It’s a Mountain

Bursari Executive Vice President, Steven Virgadamo has spent 30 years as a national leader in the American K-12 educational system. It is not unusual for school leaders to seek his guidance and counsel on a regular and frequent basis. We asked Steve to share with you some of the counsel he provides to school leaders with regards to the reopening of K-12 schools in a Covid19 world. He shared the following:

  • Students and staff should wear masks and pass through temperature reading cameras as they come on campus.
  •  Hallways should be designated one way to allow for social distancing and safe passage. 
  • Stickers should be placed 6 feet apart on stairwells, hallways, and other public areas to promote, remind and encourage social distancing.
  • Signs asking scholars to safe distance should be displayed throughout the building.
  • Students and staff should be given safe distancing “scores.”
  • Campuses should be closed to visitors. 
  • Student and staff temperatures should be monitored frequently.
  • Hand sanitizers should be available throughout the building especially at the entrance and exits of classrooms.
  • Dining hall usage should be canceled, and students should eat in classrooms.
  • Transportation routes should be adjusted to reduce overcrowding on buses.
  • Assembly plans should follow the guidelines utilized in each state for public gatherings.
  •  Sport seasons should be changed to delay any implementation of contact sports which do not allow for appropriate social distancing until later in the school year.
  •  Students should have an e-device dedicated to them for their exclusive use.  
  • Student workstations should be sanitized with wipes between classes and the buildings should be disinfected regularly.
  • Electronic thermometers should be utilized to read student temperatures frequently throughout the day.
  • Plexiglass study hall like corrals may be placed on each student workstation.
  • Parents should be asked to electronically sign each of their children into school and document that the child is not ill.
  • A safe place and comfortable should be dedicated to quarantine any ill student.
  • The handling of papers, forms, currency, checks etc. should be minimized as these items are just as likely to spread the virus as physical contact.

 

Protecting the health and wellbeing of school staff and students must be of paramount importance for every school leader. Bursari.com can help you provide a safer environment for the reopening of school and signing a school up for Bursari is simple and easy. There are no contracts, sign up fees or maintenance costs. Don’t leave the remote world of schooling and return to campus without it.

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.

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.

 

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.

Not On My Watch

“Not on my watch” is the mantra of the  new Catholic School Principals mentored under Steven Virgadamo.

Test scores and enrollment will not decline, nor will the Catholic identity be curtailed in Catholic schools across the Archdiocese of New York, assure the 21 new elementary school principals as they embark on building up the Church through the schools and pupils entrusted to their care…”

According to Virgadamo, the homework has been done to adequately prepare for the inevitable generational shift in leadership that has become a reality.  Nearly seven years ago, with the help of benefactors, the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy was established. Virgadamo, the executive director, describes the academy as the equivalent of a naval war college for school leaders.

Fifty years ago, a sense of mission and identity in Catholic schools was taken for granted because the teachers came from the same religious community, Virgadamo noted. Thirty years ago, as the number of religious in the schools diminished, a new generation of lay school leaders emerged who were mentored and formed by members of the religious community who staffed the school. Today, programs such as the Curran Catholic School Leadership Academy are needed, he said, to prepare school leaders to create the same kind of unified school culture that ultimately becomes the charisma of the school.

More than 200 individuals from across the country applied for the 21  Catholic school principal positions in the archdiocese for this year, Virgadamo noted. Many cited the opportunity to be part of the team history will remember as those who rewrote the script of Catholic schools from a declining system to one which is growing and flourishing, he added.”

Educators Need to Be Reminded: The Truth Will Set You Free

Educators Need to Be Reminded: The Truth Will Set You Free

Note: This post is from aleteia.org.

“Father, ‘truth’ is divisive!”

They spoke to me slowly, gently, yet firmly—as if I were a child being warned about the dangers of a hot stove.

I was a young priest then, on a committee to rewrite a school’s mission statement. I was admonished after pointing out that the proposed mission statement included the word “diversity” three times, but not the word “truth.” (Back then, “Diversity is our strength!” was not yet a slogan. Instead we had: “UNITY + DIVERSITY = UNIVERSITY!”)

– See more at: http://aleteia.org/2016/06/15/educators-need-to-be-reminded-the-truth-will-set-you-free/#sthash.PGUNiODm.dpuf

Bullying in Catholic Schools

Bullying in schools is as much a problem today as it has ever been. Perhaps even moreso than it used to be. But how do Catholic schools handle the problem? How do you teach and reprimand in the Catholic way? In the last few years, there has been an increase in a technique called Virtue-Based Restorative Discipline. “This faith-filled approach to addressing bullying and other disruptive behaviors stands as an exemplary model for our parishes, homes and schools.” says Reverend Robert J. Carlson, Archbishop of St. Louis

 

Designed to minimize the anti-social behaviors that can so often cause problems in schools, while simultaneously increase faith practices. Developed in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, it focuses on the root cause of bullying and other harmful behaviors, rather than punitive repercussions after the fact. It focuses on inspiring children to perform acts of kindness, lay a foundation of spirituality in children and parents alike, helping teachers to recognize and understand warning signs, and create accountability and responsibility for preventing and solving conflicts with the children themselves.

 

And rather than just focusing on addressing the issues of bullying, it focuses instead on leading a life in the way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a better, kinder way of living. By asking children “How do you see the God in others?” you take them out of their own mindset and immediate circumstances and lead them towards a more forgiving and generous way of thinking.

 

The Catholic Education Office offers training in this program now, and over 200 educators from the Archdiocese of St. Louis and seven other surrounding states can attend comprehensive training in VBRD, School teams will be trained to prevent and reduce antisocial behaviors through virtue education and restorative practices, resulting in a consistent message that upholds the dignity of the human person. “This is our fourth year for this unique training,” said Lynne Lang, director of School Climate at the Catholic Education Office. “Our returning schools are a testimony to the success of this work and reflective of the archdiocesan beONE initiative goals.”

 

For a full list of resources on this program, visit VirtueBase.org for books and press that can help you bring this into your own classrooms and schools. You can also look there for information on keynote presentations for diocesan retreats, workshops, training services, or presentations for faculty, parents, or students at that same website.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DdUTXFU4sg