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Catholic School Advantage

In First Year at the LEI, Arkansas Catholic Schools Off to a Strong Start

Written by Steve McClure on Wednesday, 01 February 2017.

LittleRock ImmaculateConception 5As the geographic footprint of the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) expands, many Catholic schools in never-before-represented dioceses now serve as models of transformation and growth with regards to Latino outreach. The three Catholic schools from the Diocese of Little Rock that attended the LEI in the summer of 2016 are one such example. St. Theresa, Immaculate Conception, and St. Vincent de Paul Schools in Little Rock, Fort Smith, and Rogers, Arkansas, respectively, were the first to represent their diocese at the LEI and all experienced notable increases in both overall and Latino enrollment in a relatively short time.

The state of Arkansas, although it falls outside of even the top half of U.S. states in Latino population as a percentage of total state population, is a seemingly ideal environment for the recruitment of Latino families to Catholic schools as it ranks sixth in Latino population growth between 2000 and 2014. The three Diocese of Little Rock schools that attended the LEI last summer validated this assumption by welcoming nearly 100 new Latino students – a 50 percent increase – across the three schools by the start of the academic year.

To see such an impact in enrollment so shortly after attending the LEI, especially in three schools from a previously unrepresented diocese, is actually quite rare. And whether it be attributed to demographics, the school leaders themselves, or the LEI – all of which undoubtedly had a hand in this recent growth – they also serve as a testament to one simple lesson that we’ve seen time and time again in LEI schools across the country: It’s all about relationships. 


LEI Schools Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

Written by Manny Fernandez on Wednesday, 01 February 2017.

LEI Schools Celebrate Catholic Schools Week

This week, Catholic school communities across the country have been celebrating the beautiful gift of Catholic education. While most schools use this opportunity to host various events, special liturgies, and fun activities for students and families, we were particularly interested in how some of the schools that are members of the Latino Enrollment Institute have been celebrating.

Here is what some of our school leaders had to say about the festivities taking place at their schools this week: 

A Handshake and A Rose

Matt Rhodes on Wednesday, 30 November 2016.

Patrick Jefferies St. Andrew A Handshake and a RosePhoto from

When Patrick Jefferies became principal at St. Andrew Catholic School outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, he made a commitment to foster a hospitable school environment for all who set foot inside the school, whether they be students, teachers, staff members, parents or visitors. One of Patrick’s first steps was to attend ACE’s 2015 Latino Enrollment Institute, a program that seeks to transform Catholic schools with open seats, favorable demographic potential, and motivated individuals by teaching them how to attract and serve Latino students more effectively.  

Divine Intervention and a Principal's Passion Save School

Written by Steve McClure on Friday, 18 November 2016.


Twelve 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.

Recognizing that what her classrooms lacked was joy, she decided to incorporate a passion of her own into the school and to build programs around it. By establishing a culture of success, implementing a whole host of extra-curricular activities, reaching out to the surrounding Latino community, and with the help of the Partnership for Inner City Education, Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary started to gain much greater visibility both within New York City and beyond.

Today, Suzanne serves as a mentor principal for the Latino Enrollment Institute, helping other Catholic school leaders find their niche and transform the culture of their schools. Watch her whole story below.


Celebrando la Virgen de Guadalupe

Written by Katy Lichon, Ph.D., Clare Roach, M.Ed., Jennifer Dees, M.Ed. on Tuesday, 15 November 2016.

The English as a New Language team provides recommendations and a number of resources, including a printable worship program, for you to celebrate the upcoming feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in your school.

St.AndrewSLC 5Students at St. Andrew School in Salt Lake City, UT, dress in indigenous clothing and present gifts to La Virgencita.

For your students and families of Mexican origin, Our Lady of Guadalupe or La Guadalupana represents a powerful and deep devotion to the loving and caring mother of God. By celebrating the feast day of the Blessed Lady, the patroness of the Americas, on December 12th, your school can draw attention to the universality of the Church and the beauty of Marian devotions. More importantly, it offers your learning community the grace of participating in and honoring a magnificently rich tradition celebrated for centuries by the Mexican people.

As described by Fr. Virgilio Elizondo (2011), Our Lady of Guadalupe represents the “mother of new humanity” because she bridges for the Americas the Old World and the New. In 1531 when La Virgencita appeared to Juan Diego, the native peoples of Mexico had just been defeated by the Spanish armies and were in need of hope, rebirth, and spiritual healing. La Morenita (which translated means “brown skinned one”) appeared not to the powerful Spanish, but to the humble Juan Diego, an Aztec man, to ask that he approach the bishop and request that a church be built in her honor. The bishop was incredulous, but Mary appeared to Juan Diego again. This time when Juan Diego encountered the bishop, he had the brown skinned image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on his tilma (cloak) and his arms were full of roses, which were exceedingly rare in the region. Having won the bishop’s blessing, a shrine was built on the top of Mount Tepeyac, the hill where Mary appeared to Juan Diego. Today the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world and it continues to represent a place of protection, consolation, mestizaje (mixture of races) , and unity.

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