ACE logo

Catholic School Advantage

Three LEI Mentors Appointed to Diocesan Leadership Positions

Written by Steve McClure on Wednesday, 28 March 2018.

Since its inception, the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) has relied on the expertise of mentor principals to help Catholic schools around the country achieve significant enrollment gains. The experience, accountability, and personal attention that these leaders provide has been a defining characteristic of the LEI, helping Catholic school principals—and their teams—institute lasting changes.

We are excited to highlight three of our LEI Mentors who will soon have the opportunity to share their knowledge, experience, and gifts with an even wider audience. Patty Lansink, Haidee Todora, and Toni Vaeth have each been promoted to new leadership positions within their—or new—(arch)diocesan Catholic schools offices.

All three of these Catholic school principals attended the LEI as participants in 2014, and for the past three years have served as mentors to other principals in the program. They were each invited to join the LEI leadership team after exhibiting exceptional sensitivity to the needs of their school communities, knowledge of best practices in working with Latino students and families, and the ability to lead their faculty/staff in this endeavor.

"I thought I would be attending just another conference; I was really joining a movement."

on Monday, 26 March 2018.

Deacon Marc Nestorick, principal of Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver, Colorado, reflects on his experience in the Latino Enrollment Institute.

Deacon Marc with Students

For six years, the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) has helped Catholic schools nationwide attract and better serve Latino families. Through the program’s history, the vast majority of these schools have been at the elementary level, but in recent years, we have seen an uptick in demand from Catholic high schools. This has been a welcome sight as we know that the great work being done by our elementary schools cannot stop at eighth grade.

Latino Cultural Celebration 2

While high schools undoubtedly face a different reality than most Catholic grade schools do when it comes to day-to-day operations, recruitment activities, and advancement practices, much of what the LEI offers is universally applicable. At the same time, we sought to address some of the unique needs that Catholic high schools have, and we began by placing the high school principals in a small cohort together. This cohort of school leaders has been working with an LEI Coach and high school principal throughout the year to help institute changes to spur enrollment growth and better serve the Latino families in their communities.

Today, we highlight one of those schools who has shown remarkable growth in just a short time – Bishop Machebeuf High School in Denver, Colorado. The principal, Deacon Marc Nestorick, and his staff have worked hard to implement LEI strategies and reach out to the Latino community both inside their school and in the wider community.

After attending the LEI last summer, Bishop Machebeuf High School increased Latino enrollment from 86 to 128 students, nearly a 50-percent increase in just a few short months. Following is a reflection from Deacon Marc about his experience in the LEI and how it has helped shape much of what Bishop Machebeuf does today.

Embracing Change: St. Bernard School Becomes Second Largest Catholic Elementary School in Wisconsin through Latino Outreach Efforts

on Sunday, 25 March 2018.

St. Bernard Catholic SchoolSt. Bernard Catholic School, located in Northeast Wisconsin, has been a staple in the East Side neighborhood of Green Bay since 1958. The year it opened, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity welcomed 368 students from the surrounding farms and the bustling, but relatively homogeneous, neighborhoods. Back then, the school community was very much a reflection of the community in which it was located. At its peak enrollment in 2005, the school topped 500 students.

Only five years later, following the unfortunate trend of many Catholic schools around the country, St. Bernard School started to see its enrollment drop by about 9 percent each year, reaching levels it hadn’t seen since its very early days of operation. Despite their enrollment struggles, the school worked to maintain its reputation for providing a top-quality education, as well as its track record for teaching children to read who were not finding success elsewhere. They continued to draw families from a relatively expansive radius, but despite their strength as an academic institution, the school’s outlook looked bleak if they didn’t respond directly to the changes that were at the root of the school’s downward enrollment trend.

ENL and the Church

on Monday, 19 February 2018.

By: Will F. Peterson, ACE 21 Memphis

ENL and the Church Will Peterson

The February after I graduated from ACE Teaching Fellows, I stumbled into a social justice position at the University of Kentucky’s Newman Center. My timing was fortunate as the Diocese of Lexington’s bishop, John Stowe, OFM Conv., had recently appointed three parishes to serve as places of welcome for the influx of Catholic Congolese refugees to the United States escaping the horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our Newman Center was to be one of them.

A Small School Making Great Strides

on Tuesday, 19 December 2017.

St.Mary's Baptism

When St. Mary’s School in Niles, Michigan, applied to attend the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) in 2016, the school’s low enrollment raised initial concerns about its long-term viability. A small pre-K-6 Catholic grade school with a total of 56 students enrolled suggested an uncertain future, but Principal Sharon Gregorski was determined to see her school grow and its students thrive.

When Sharon learned of the Latino Enrollment Institute, she knew that it was exactly what her school needed to succeed. St. Mary’s Parish offered a Spanish Mass every Sunday, as well as a faith formation program that was well attended by Latino students in grades kindergarten through six, but most of her attempts to invite Latino parents to consider a St. Mary’s education for their children had been unfruitful. Conversations with Latino parents, which often ended with a sincere interest and expressed desire to send their children to the school, rarely translated into actual enrollments. 

SharonGregorski LEI2016Principal Sharon Gregorski and St. Mary's teacher, Leslie Johnson, at the LEI summer conference

Sharon hoped that by attending the LEI, she would acquire a deeper understanding of Latino culture, as well as the tools necessary to reach out to this growing population in her community. Now, as a member of the sixth cohort of the LEI and just halfway through the school year, Sharon is already seeing the fruits of her labor.

St. Mary’s School offers a beautiful example of how a passionate and mission-driven school leader is far more critical to a school’s success than any circumstances or obstacles they may face. Following is a reflection from Principal Sharon Gregorski on her experience in the Latino Enrollment Institute thus far.

Search News