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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.

25 Catholic Schools from New England Attend Regional LEI

Written by Manny Fernandez on Tuesday, 28 November 2017.

 MG 3800

This past October 2-4, in partnership with the Diocese of Providence, the Alliance for Catholic Education held an off-campus Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) in Warwick, Rhode Island. The LEI welcomed 25 Catholic schools from eight different (arch)dioceses from around the New England region to the beautiful Aldrich Mansion, where 76 participants learned key strategies on how to recruit and serve Latino students in their Catholic schools.

In attendance at the New England LEI were representatives from individual schools, including principals, teachers, office administrators, enrollment directors, and pastors, as well as a number of diocesan Catholic Schools office representatives. Diocese of Providence superintendent, Dan Ferris, played a vital role in bringing the LEI to the New England region, as he recognized the dire need to make a Catholic education more accessible to the growing population of Latino families in the region.

Moments with Multicultural Saints: Mother Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas

Written by Rachel Quinones, ACE 23, Katy Lichon, Ph.D., Jennifer Dees, M.Ed., Clare Roach, M.Ed. on Monday, 30 October 2017.

This is our latest installment of the English as a New Language Program’s Moments with Multicultural Saints, intended to provide useful classroom takeaways that will help you to broaden perspectives, teach about the universal Church, and find inspiration from saints from around the world. This month, we highlight the life of Mother Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas. You will find two different versions below, tailored to the appropriate age range of your students.

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