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Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program

ACE Service to Catholic Schools Shines Light in Summer Conferences

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 15 May 2012.

The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) will once again welcome hundreds of visitors to the campus this summer for a unique series of conferences, all advancing ACE’s mission to sustain, strengthen, and transform Catholic schools.

The conferences, some of which are currently accepting registrants, constitute a growing part of the busy summer to be enjoyed by ACE participants. Hundreds of those participants will receive skills and personal formation to earn master’s degrees as K-12 Catholic school teachers and leaders.

Various units of ACE, which have multiplied during 19 years in response to the needs of children in under-resourced Catholic schools, host conferences that address today’s urgent issues. These include galvanizing top-notch teachers and school leaders; encouraging parental choice policies and informed financial strategies for Catholic school sustainability; promoting athletic coaching that ministers to young people; and introducing parents and South Bend-area educators to the summertime wellspring of Notre Dame’s commitment to K-12 schooling.

These conferences are coming up in 2012:

ACE Teaching Fellows Annual Conference (June 5-10). Participants in the Melody Family ACE Teaching Fellowship program convene to assess and catalyze their growth as master teachers, educational leaders, and generators of problem-solving research. Several benefactor-supported fellowships support highly promising educators who wish to continue their careers in Catholic classrooms while pursuing advanced knowledge and skills. Fellows cultivate these leadership assets along with their mentors during the conference. Read more about the ACE Teaching Fellows Annual Conference.

Advocates for Parental Choice Symposium (June 15-20). This intensive formation experience gives participants a first-hand experience of people and places on the cutting edge in implementing school choice policies. Catholic school supporters will receive skills, insights, and working relationships to equip them as advocates in the parental choice movement. Major speakers and visits to Wisconsin and Florida will increase these future leaders’ understanding of the legal, social, constitutional, political, and moral dimensions of parental choice.

Hope in Action: Transforming Haiti Through Catholic Education (June 19-20). A select group of Church, education, philanthropic, and international developmental leaders will gather to probe how a stronger Catholic education system can transform Haiti's education sector and advance the nation's social and economic development. Forum hosts and partners will introduce innovative pathways for quality Catholic education in Haiti. Partners in this international leadership forum include Catholic Relief Services, the Congregation of Holy Cross, the Haitian Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, as well as three units of the University—the Alliance for Catholic Education, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Learn more about ACE in Haiti.

Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference (June 22-24). This annual conference, titled “Champion Character in Sports” for 2012, emphasizes developing the whole person through sports. Guest speakers offer professional development for coaches and athletic administrators at both the youth and high school levels. Hosted by ACE’s Play Like a Champion Today® experts in sports as ministry, the conference gathers representatives of parochial leagues around the country to network and share best practices. Register for the Play Like a Champion Today Sports Leadership Conference.

Superintendents Strategic Leadership Conference (June 24-27). ACE Consulting will host its annual Superintendents Strategic Leadership Conference, inviting educational leaders from dioceses across the country. This year's conference is titled "Together in Mission: Creating a Culture of Hope." Expert speakers and in-depth conversations will explore key issues faced by school leaders. Learn more about the Superintendents Strategic Leadership Conference.

Principals Academy (June 26-29). A four-day enrichment experience for Catholic school principal will focus on identifying and shaping a school’s culture to benefit leadership and learning. The values of a school, expressed actively and nurtured in a culture, provide a framework in which teachers can reduce students’ achievement gaps and leaders can promote continuous improvement in a school. This academy, hosted by ACE Consulting, will help principals develop action plans to improve and utilize their school culture. Register here for the Principals Academy.

Equitable Services Institute (July 8-12). Students in Catholic schools across the country are not getting federally funded services to which they’re entitled; the Equitable Services Institute assists diocesan superintendents, principals, and other educational leaders to solve this problem. Attendees will receive updated information about complex federal funding policies plus practical roadmaps for the process of consultations by which educators obtain equitable shares for their students from Title 1, Title 2, and Title 3 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Learn more about, and register for, the Equitable Services Institute.

School Pastors Institute (July 17-20). Pastors whose parishes include schools are invited to this annual institute to learn to manage and leverage better the distinctive relationship between a parish and its school. The Institute develops many skills and perspectives that a pastor will need in overseeing a parish school, its people, and its finances. It provides insights for valuable reflection on the value of Catholic schools to the children and parents of a parish and to the future of the Church as a whole. 

ACE Parent Retreat (July 25-27). Parents whose sons or daughters have just finished their first year in ACE Teaching Fellows often have many questions about these first-year teachers’ experiences. ACE Advocates hosts a special retreat for these parents at Notre Dame to get their questions answered and to see the broader context of the journey their ACE teachers are taking. The retreat also allows these parents of the ACE 18 cohort to hear presentations, worship together, and swap stories. Learn more about the ACE Parent Retreat.

Mary Ann Remick Leadership Conference (July 13). This conference, a capstone event for those earning their master’s degrees in educational administration through the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP), is a unique and informal venue for South Bend-area educators to discuss current research with ACE leaders and experts from across the country. The RLP participants present the action research they have conducted to help address key day-to-day issues facing Catholic schools, and local educational leaders attending free-of-charge may exchange useful ideas. Read about last year’s Remick Leadership Conference and read about the value of action research.

Survey of Principals by Remick Leadership Program Sees Challenges

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 16 April 2012.

Latest ACE Research Finds Principals Faith-filled but Under Pressure

Catholic elementary school principals, speaking out in a major nationwide survey, report experiencing acute challenges and frustrations in the operation of their schools, and they identify financial management, marketing, Catholic identity, enrollment management, and long-range planning as their schools’ top five areas of need.

The study, just completed by the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and its Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, is a rare, comprehensive glimpse of these principals’ views on what they need to do their jobs better and how they describe the state of Catholic education today.

"It is difficult to read the responses of Catholic school principals in this study and not sense both their commitment to this ministry and the overwhelming responsibilities that are associated with it,” say the authors of “Leadership Speaks: A National Survey of Catholic Primary School Principals.” They paint a picture of principals as faith-filled individuals confronting unusually challenging expectations, worthy of new forms of support, such as their own national association.

The study has not yet been published, but the authors—Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, senior director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, along with two members of the Remick Leadership Program faculty, Anthony Holter and James Frabutt—presented an overview of their work during the National Catholic Educational Association annual convention held April 11-13 in Boston.

A total of 1,685 Catholic school principals representing all areas of the country and all types of school locations and organizational structures, participated in the survey during 2010, answering nearly three dozen questions.

When invited to give open-ended answers, the participants narrowed down the five top areas of need to the two they called most important—enrollment management and financial management—which together often capture the most basic goal of survival, keeping a school open.

Based on the data obtained, “the Church seems to have hired well, attracting mission-driven and loyal individuals to the overarching goals of Catholic education,” according to the study. But these principals live daily with what has been called “the tyranny of the urgent,” hungering for more support—“emotional as well as financial.”

“A Catholic school principal has job expectations that go beyond what can be found in secular educational literature,” the authors note, pointing out that the work of a chief executive officer and a chief operating officer is combined with the school’s overarching religious purpose: “the sanctification of all its stakeholders.”

The study provides enormous amounts of data describing today’s Catholic school principals and outlining their views, and the authors conclude with four recommendations:

· Develop “new models of governance for Catholic elementary schools” that shift the panoply of principal responsibilities “into a more manageable and realistic position description.”

· “Develop a program of ongoing professional development and renewal for principals” that address their needs, both professional and personal.

· Organize a national association of Catholic school principals as a means “to give voice to their leadership concerns at every level and to promote advocacy for Catholic schools at the national level.”

· “Convene multiple groups of national and international stakeholders to advance the understanding of Catholic schools as instruments of the new evangelization.”

Principals Academy: An Opportunity to Impact School Culture

Written by William Schmitt on Tuesday, 10 April 2012.

ACE Consulting Will Host Summer Event -- Registration Under Way

Those who attend ACE's 2012 Principals Academy this June will be immersed in culture—or, more precisely, in dynamic discussions of how to identify and shape a school's culture to benefit leadership and learning.

This third annual Academy, taking place June 26-29 on the University of Notre Dame campus, is sponsored by ACE Consulting. Principals from around the country are invited to develop new skills and perspectives that give students more robust structures for achievement.

"Every school has a culture, but the key is to be intentional about forming one that is shared and understood and alive for your teachers and your students," says Dr. Christian Dallavis, director of the Notre Dame ACE Academies initiative and an expert on the power of vibrant school cultures. He will lead a team of presenters at the Principals Academy.

"The goal is to give principals tools they can use to do formation around the values of a school," Dallavis says.
There are several components of a culture, ranging from the faculty's sense of purpose to the values that undergird educators' actions in the classroom to the environmental features—how a school looks and feels.

"We'll walk principals through that framework and then help them develop action plans for their own school culture," says Dallavis. Building this awareness and structure can help a school in many ways, he says, including succession planning for the leaders, reducing students' achievement gaps, and promoting continuous improvement throughout the school.

Some 75 principals attended last year's event. Those interested in this year's Title IIA-eligible Academy can visit the ACE Consulting site at http://ace.nd.edu/consulting/professional-development/principals-academy and click on the registration box.

"Getting the Word Out" Helps Boost a School's Enrollment

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 04 April 2012.

Ideas from Action Research by RLP Grad Gina Groch Send a Message

Gina Groch, a graduate of cohort 8 in ACE's Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program (RLP), is assistant principal at St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School in Naples, Fla. As with all of her RLP classmates, Gina's preparation for the M.A. degree in Educational Administration degree included an action research project, addressing a particular school problem and striving to offer data-informed insights that would help other schools facing the same challenges.

Her project explored how the basic principles of marketing might be applied to help increase a Catholic school's enrollment. Gina, who received her Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Temple University with a double major in computer science and marketing, has applied her graduate-level research insights at St. Elizabeth Seton and reports impressive results.

"In an overall sense, I tried to analyze our school in relation to the 4 P's of marketing--product, price, place, and promotion," she commented recently. In short, the first three P's told a positive story. The school's product is a quality Catholic education. Its price is twice the national average but still the lowest among private schools in the area. Its place is an area with many young, growing Catholic families.

Father Ronald Nuzzi Shares Catholic School Views in Ireland

Written by William Schmitt on Monday, 13 February 2012.

Ireland marked Catholic Schools Week recently with a national conference hosted by Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, ACE’s senior director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, was invited to keynote the gathering with a talk titled “Catholic Schools as Eucharistic Communities.”

The participation by Father Nuzzi, who is an author and frequent speaker on the mission and meaning of Catholic schools in the United States, was the latest sign of the relationship that has grown between Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education and many of Ireland’s educators.

"I learned a lot from their experiences, and I shared a few of my own,” Father Nuzzi said of talks not only at the national conference but at additional events with religious orders and other patron groups, or trusts, who sponsor and support Catholic schools in the country.