St. Cecilia School | Cincinnati, OH
If you ask Mike Goedde, principal of St. Cecilia School in Cincinnati, Ohio, what the secret to his school's remarkable growth and vibrancy is, he will be the first to tell you that there's nothing extraordinary about it. "I think it can be a typical story in a Catholic school," says Goedde. When faced with the challenges of declining enrollment, waning parish support, and a changing neighborhood, the leadership team at St. Cecilia believed that the key to the school's growth would be the Latino community. The combination of visionary leadership, archdiocesan support, and parent involvement now form what has truly become a "genuine partnership," which is on full display each spring in the school's annual Latino cultural celebration.
Mount Carmel-Holy Rosary School | East Harlem, NY
Thirteen years ago, it took a miracle to keep the doors of Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School in East Harlem open. But the school’s providential reprieve from its impending closure was far from the end of the journey. Granted a second chance, Principal Suzanne Kaszynski, at the time in only her second year at the helm, realized that she and her staff would need to radically transform Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary School from the inside out.
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy | Denver, CO
For 60 years, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy has been working small miracles in a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood of southwest Denver. When Jeannie Courchene became principal of St. Rose of Lima in 1999, the school was in physical disrepair and in dire need of renovations. She and the pastor began the long road to “cleaning up” the school, while also brainstorming ways to attract more students. They developed a marketing brochure that proclaimed, “We’ve turned old lumber into computer tables, cardboard boxes into window shades, and hundreds of at-risk children into high school graduates. It’s our modest attempt to follow a man who turned a few loaves and fishes into a meal for thousands.” These words capture the vibrant purpose and achievement of the students, parents, teachers, and leadership embodied by this Catholic elementary school.
Sacred Heart Catholic School | Oklahoma City, OK
When Joana Camacho became principal of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Oklahoma City, she inherited a school that had just experienced a significant drop in enrollment, with no signs of that turning around any time soon. At the same time, the weekend Masses at Sacred Heart Parish were extremely well attended, in large part by Latino families with young children. Despite her efforts to reach out to this population, through a combination of open houses, traditional advertising techniques, and even speaking at some of the Spanish Masses, it wasn’t until she began to understand what Latino parents really wanted for their children that she was able to convey the most effective message.
St. James the Less Catholic School | Columbus, OH
St. James the Less School in Columbus, Ohio, represents an ideal "witness to the possible" with regards to the transformative potential that a great leader can have in a Catholic school. When Yvonne Schwab became principal of St. James in 2004, she inherited a school that was simply surviving, with a total enrollment under 200 children and only two Latino students. Under her leadership, enrollment at St. James the Less grew to over 500 students, nearly two-thirds of whom are Latino. Yvonne helped to establish a culture of success by cultivating a strong spirit of hospitality and inclusion alongside high-quality academics and faith formation.
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School | Phoenix, AZ
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School, located in West Phoenix in a predominantly low-income, Hispanic neighborhood, first opened its doors in 1959. In the early 2000s, the school began to experience a drop in enrollment, encountering many of the same challenges as Catholic schools around the nation. At that time, Principal Sr. Julie Kubasak, DC, resolved to make the school more visible in the community and make sure everyone knew that St. Vincent de Paul School was "available, affordable, and accessible." The dramatic transformation that ensued has led to consistent enrollment growth, surpassing 600 in 2014, and the school's first double-graded campus in over 20 years.
St. Gertrude the Great School | Bell Gardens, CA
When Mary Flock was appointed Principal at St. Gertrude the Great School in 2011, there were no books, seven teachers, and only 42 students enrolled. The school had been slated to close that year. But when Mary and the pastor were given one year to turn the school around, they rolled up their sleeves, got to work, and from day one, their focus was on building a community. Through a lot of hard work, creativity, and sheer will to see the school succeed, Mary and her team were able to increase St. Gertrude's enrollment from 42 students to 110 in a single year. The following year, a team from St. Gertrude attended the first Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) at the Universit of Notre Dame. Today, the school is thriving, with a total enrollment of just over 200 students and 99 percent Latino.
Saint Leander Catholic School | San Leandro, CA
If our efforts to attract Latino families to Catholic schools are not coupled with efforts to help Catholic schools address the unque academic needs of English language learners, then we risk the danger of falling short of our ultimate goal—to improve educational outcomes for Latino children. In this video, Lynne Mullen, a principal in the Diocese of Oakland, talks about the importance of not only growing enrollment in our Catholic schools, but ensuring that all students thrive in them. Lynne attended the very first LEI with St. Leander School in 2012, where she was serving at the time, and then went on to complete the ENL Hernandez Fellows program.