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Remick Leadership Conference Looks to Future and Past with Research on Catholic Schools

Written by William Schmitt on Wednesday, 18 July 2012.

Discussions of the past, present, and future of Catholic schools marked the fifth annual Remick Leadership Conference, held at Notre Dame's DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on Friday, July 13.

The future was represented by 23 students of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, a formation initiative of the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE). They were completing their studies for a Notre Dame Master of Arts degree in educational administration and planning for careers as principals and other leaders in Catholic K-12 education.

These members of the ninth class to be graduated from the Remick Leadership Program used the conference to present the results of "action research" projects they had undertaken as part of their 26-month course of study. Their individual poster displays, exhibited for classmates and members of the South Bend region's community of K-12 educators who were welcome to the conference free of charge, outlined findings and proposed solutions regarding present-day challenges faced by Catholic schools around the country.

"The action research conference and the poster session is really the zenith of our program," said Rev. Ronald Nuzzi, senior director of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program. Speaking to the conference attendees, he said of the soon-to-graduate class, "You see clearly the contributions they are making to the future of Catholic education and how well they already demonstrate the capacity to lead."

Thomas Hunt, a distinguished historian on the faculty of the University of Dayton's Department of Teacher Education, offered a discussion of the past in his keynote address to the conference. He outlined the growth of Catholic schools in the United States during the 1800s amid such obstacles as anti-Catholicism and a push toward secularism in public schools.

Hunt is the author of more than 20 books, including the Handbook of Research on Catholic Education. "If you don't know Dr. Hunt, you don't know American Catholic education," said Father Nuzzi. Hunt and Nuzzi are former co-editors of Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice.

The 23 students received their M.A. degrees at ACE Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, July 14.

Action research topics they addressed as part of their curriculum and outlined in their poster displays drew upon their personal experiences working in Catholic schools around the country. Titles of their intensively researched reports included:
• "Student Perceptions of Community at Saint John's Preparatory School "
• "Faculty and Administrative Perspectives on a New Teacher Observation, Reflective Practice, and Growth Evaluation Process at Charlottee Catholic High School"
• "An Analysis of the Communication Needs at St. Agnes of Bohemia School"
• "More than a Score: SAT Preparation and Student Motivation"

A complete list of action research projects and their descriptions can be found at http://ace.nd.edu/leadership/actionresearch/projects

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