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Success Stories

Defying the Odds

Written by Steve McClure on Thursday, 24 August 2017.

One Catholic School’s Journey to Becoming a Model of Educational Excellence in the Most Unlikely of Places

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For sixty years, St. Rose of Lima Catholic Academy has been working small miracles in a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood of southwest Denver. Operating within a limited budget, the school has given children, many of whom society has labeled as ‘disadvantaged’ or ‘at-risk,’ the opportunity to discover their God-given potential, develop a deep love for learning, and a desire to achieve excellence as scholars and as young men and women of upstanding moral character.

When Jeannie Courchene became principal of St. Rose of Lima in 1999, the school was in physical disrepair and in dire need of renovations. Mrs. Courchene 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.

Within eight years of Mrs. Courchene at the helm, enrollment had exceeded two-hundred for the first time in twenty years. Through her efforts to build relationships in the community and establish a development board to help stabilize enrollment and put the school in a more viable financial position, St. Rose of Lima was able to make many necessary improvements and become a model of educational excellence.

Because of their success, especially in serving the Latino community, St. Rose of Lima was featured in the University of Notre Dame’s 2009 publication, To Nurture the Soul of a Nation: Latino Families, Catholic Schools, and Educational Opportunity. Seven years later, we revisited St. Rose to interview several members of the extraordinary team of people, without whom the school’s transformation would have never been possible.  

Watch the whole story below:

 


 

A Commitment to Diversity: First Racially-Integrated School in South Carolina Continues its Legacy through Latino Outreach

Written by Manny Fernandez on Wednesday, 23 August 2017.

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Every school has a story to tell.

Throughout the six-year history of the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI), we have seen Catholic school principals from all over the country come to the LEI in the hopes of transforming their schools, and in essence, change their school’s story. Some schools are near closing and desperately need to increase enrollment quickly. Other schools already have a large Latino population and simply want to start serving them better. And still schools see their neighborhoods, their country, and the Church changing and want to be proactive in making sure their school is ready for this inevitable change.

When Shaileen Riginos of St. Anne Catholic School in Rock Hill, South Carolina, applied to the LEI in the summer of 2015, she asked herself, “What do I want our school story to be?” Their enrollment was healthy, their finances were in order, and parents were happy with the direction of the school. But one major area gnawed at her. Despite the fact that St. Anne’s parish was 28% Latino, there were very few Latinos enrolled in the school. With the cost of tuition, attracting low-income families was proving to be difficult.

A Vibrant Celebration Leads to an Important Revelation

Written by Manny Fernandez on Monday, 08 May 2017.

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John Staud, Executive Director for the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) at the University of Notre Dame, likes to tell a story about the moment he knew that a great number of Latinos could be found anywhere in the Unites States, and that they would be the future of the Catholic Church. About a decade ago, he was at a rest stop in Lima, Ohio. Lima is a small, old German farming town in the middle of rural Ohio. At this rest stop, to John’s astonishment, were signs in both English and Spanish. It was his “aha” moment, and ACE would never be the same.

Fast forward to the present, and the Latino Enrollment Institute (LEI) is now in its sixth year. Having served almost 200 schools from 41 states, the LEI has proven there is a need to focus on Latino enrollment in Catholic schools not only in states like California, Texas, and Florida, but throughout the entire nation.

Divine Intervention and a Principal's Passion Save School

Written by Steve McClure on Friday, 18 November 2016.

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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.


 

Speaking to the Heart of What Parents Want for their Children

Written by Steve McClure on Thursday, 01 September 2016.

Know your audience. This age-old wisdom for public speaking is something we’ve all probably heard at one point or another. It often serves as a guiding principle for any successful marketing campaign and similarly has profound implications for developing an effective Latino recruitment strategy.

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.

Watch the whole story here...


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