Tag: Steve Virgadamo (page 2 of 4)

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.

Summertime, Children and Reading

By Steven Virgadamo, Bursari.com Executive Vice President

 

The current school year is winding down quickly. I get most excited about summertime as it is a good time to establish an amazing connection….summertime, children and reading should be like peas and carrots….things that go well together. Reading for young scholars can always open up galaxies of possibilities, but, reading in those lazy days of summer invites play, the unexpected and encourages an unbridled imagination. Every book is a possibility.

 

Ensuring free time to read and imagine is perhaps the best of summertime opportunities: a wonderful companion to any program, camp or class.

 

But not all great summertime reading should be done by a child in isolation. Sometimes there is nothing better than reading together. Sharing a story with your child means sharing language, life, and perspective. Characters’ decisions, good ones and bad, morph into complex conversations outside the pages. Funny moments become inside jokes, and travels to exotic lands an inexpensive possibility.

 

I wish you all parents and young scholars a summer filled with opportunities to make family memories as well as lots and lots of books.

Top Catholic Podcasts 2020

Podcasts are an excellent way not only to be entertained, but keep informed about various subjects. With topics ranging from broad to niche, it’s no surprise that some Catholics have taken to this medium to spread the word of God to people everywhere. Though there are plenty of podcasts out there that deserve a light shining on them, these particular podcasts have something special about them that makes them the top Catholic podcasts of 2020.

 

The Catholic Feminist

 

This podcast is a call to women everywhere who wish to be “informed, inspired, and intentional” in their faith and community. The host of the show, Claire Swinarski, releases a new episode once a week covering significant topics in today’s world, such as racism, postpartum depression, human trafficking, immigration, and much more. Swinarski remains authentic in her episodes and has genuine discussions about the role of women in both the Church and in society, creating a space for those who wish to feel empowered.

 

Jen Said What?!

 

Jen Fulwiler, host of the SiriusXM radio show The Jennifer Fulwiler Show, takes points of interest from her radio job and highlights them during her podcast. A former atheist and nerd mother to six children, Fulwiler examines pop culture engagingly and thoughtfully that’s sure to be entertaining. Her podcast is perfect for those who want to listen to her radio show, but are never quite able to catch it.

 

Word on Fire

 

The Word on Fire podcast, hosted by Bishop Barron, skillfully takes the richness of Catholicism and interweaves it with modern culture. His podcast is both vivid and accessible to Catholics at all stages of their journey with Christ, educating and uplifting his audience to the truth and knowledge found within the Church. From insights on great Catholic thinkers to everyday, practical advice, Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire is a must-listen.

 

Fr. Mike Schmitz

 

Fans of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s YouTube channel will be thrilled to learn that he also has a podcast available to listen to while on the go. Though short, Fr. Mike Schmitz often reflects on a variety of topics, such as practical living advice and Catholic teachings. His podcast is down-to-earth and aims to “help listeners live out the Christian life more effectively.” 

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 Pros and Cons of Homeschooling Your Children

School is a fundamental foundation for children as they grow and develop. It’s how they discover the world, learn new things, find their passions, and become their own person. Some parents choose to send their children to the local public school, while others decide to enroll their kids in a private school. Homeschooling is another option for your children’s education, but it’s not for everyone. Playing the role of parent and teacher is a large responsibility that will affect both your child and your family. Before deciding to homeschool, it’s best to know the pros and cons to determine whether this mode of education is right for you.

 

Family Time

 

One of the more obvious results of homeschooling is the increased amount of family time. As both parent and teacher, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your children, which can ultimately lay a foundation for a stronger relationship between you. As your child’s teacher, you’ll have a direct role in what they learn, how they learn it, and making sure it aligns with your own moral values. However, taking on both roles in your child’s life will carve a good chunk out of your personal free-time, as you’ll need to plan lessons and handle administrative work in addition to parental responsibilities. This can lead to stress and fatigue in the long run.

 

Socialization

 

Being homeschooled can limit the number of people your children know that are their own age. This can seem preferable to some—by being homeschooled, there’s a smaller chance of your children being bullied or ridiculed by others, which in turn can help prevent low self-esteem and encourage learning. Homeschooled children also have more interactions with adults and other homeschooled children of varying ages and skill levels. However, since this method of learning limits the number of people your kids will know that are their own age, it can result in a smaller friend group overall. 

 

Education

 

Unlike with public schools, homeschooling will provide the chance for your kids to move quickly through topics that come easy to them and focus on more challenging lessons or on topics that catch their attention as opposed to ones outside of their interest. You’ll also be able to personalize your teaching style to benefit the way your children learn the best rather than enforcing a standard way of teaching that many kids will need to adapt to. Perhaps the best part for kids is the lack of homework necessary. Since they’re learning at home already, there’s no need for extra work to be done outside of school hours unless they’re struggling with something in particular. 

 

On the flip side, you likely won’t have as many readily available resources at your disposal as public and private schools do, and you’ll have to be the sole teacher of a broad range of topics as opposed to being specialized in one field. That, in addition to less time to dedicate toward parenting and the possibility of less structure than a public or private school, can affect your child’s overall education and learning.

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.

 

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.