Dear Reader, As happy memories of summer vacation linger with us, fall immerses us in the joys of meeting new students and trying different ideas. Allow our fall issue to enlighten your year with some exciting new features. Our School Spotlight column now highlights the finalists of our Innovations in Catholic Education Awards. This issue honors the winner and finalists in the Promoting Catholic Identity category. The winner, St. Brigid of Kildare School in Dublin, Ohio, has extended the pillars of discipleship across the curriculum, including extra-curricular activities.
Michele Faehnle’s feature article, “Foster Discipleship in Your School,” expands on the idea of building Catholic identity through direct engagement with parents as partners — a great way to engage with all stakeholders invested in Catholic education. In “A Climate for Change,” Louise Moore examines just how difficult change might be for school leaders and provides evidence-based practices for supporting change where needed.
In her new column, Saint Connection, Sr. Brittany Harrison, FMA, will draw inspiration from the saints to edify and encourage teachers. This issue highlights St. John Bosco’s words and actions as they relate to building classroom trust. In a feature article, “Identify, Listen, Empower — Forming Students as Catholic Leaders,” the same author examines the ideas of St. John Bosco, citing the importance of building relationships with students to both support their growth and empower them as leaders. Sr. Brittany inspires us to befriend our most challenging students by creating an environment of support, love, and respect.
Sr. Brittany’s article reminds me of an exchange I had last spring when I was working with teacher candidates at Assumption College. During a class discussion, multiple candidates mentioned a student they’d observed in the local middle school who was disinterested in attempting work in any of his classes. He preferred to roam the hallways during class time. I decided to use this scenario as a case study and asked the teacher candidates to reframe this middle-schooler’s experience in light of what we’d been learning. One candidate reminded us, “You have to reach him before you can teach him!” Another chimed in, “Maybe the breaks should be timed and used as a reward for doing work rather than a way to get out of doing work.” A third shared, “Maybe he’s looking for connection and belonging, but he’s not finding it in the classroom so he leaves.” I stood back and smiled.
This is the essence of teacher preparation: collaboratively thinking through a difficult case to discover possible solutions. Sr. Brittany’s feature article reminds us of the power we have as classroom teachers to support, challenge, and change a student’s path.
Peace and blessings this school year,
Dr. Lisa D’Souza
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