Xavier and Archdiocese of Cincinnati kick off program for area Catholic schools

New collaborative Initiative for Catholic Schools focuses on leadership, science, math | January 21, 2004

Xavier and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's Catholic schools office are kicking off a pilot program designed to enhance the quality of leadership and of math and science teaching in Cincinnati area Catholic elementary schools.

A reception on Wednesday, Jan. 21, from 3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. in the Conaton Board Room on the University's campus marks the start of the Initiative for Catholic Schools. The program, designed to be a five-year collaborative effort, is supported by a $2 million gift from the Clement and Ann Buenger Foundation.

Twenty-one area schools were selected to participate in the initiative, and each is represented by a team of four people. Archbishop Daniel Palarczyk and University President Michael J. Graham, S.J., both are giving short presentations at the kick-off reception. Initiative participants, University professors who are involved in the program, board members of the Buenger foundation, pastors of local churches and chair members of each school's education commission all are invited to attend Wednesday's event. Roger Fortin, academic vice president, is serving as master of ceremonies.

The 21 participating schools and their team members were selected through a competitive process. A committee of representatives from Xavier, the Cincinnati Archdiocese and the Buenger Foundation made selections based on essays that demonstrated applicants' interest in participating and ways their schools could benefit from the initiative.

Those selected teachers, administrators and principals each had the choice to enroll in one of two programs focusing on leadership or to enroll in programs focusing on math or science. The math initiative begins Friday, Jan. 23, the science initiative begins Friday, Jan. 30, the executive leadership initiative begins in early February, and those participants working toward a Master in Education began attending classes last week.

"The principals and teachers selected to participate in the Initiative for Catholic Schools will bring what they learn back to their schools and classrooms, directly benefiting the 53,500 students who attend our schools in Cincinnati," says Brother Joe Kamis, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

What exactly they are taking back to their schools varies. Participants enrolled in the executive leadership program, designed for principals and administrators, are going to work to improve their skills, experiences and networks as leaders. The program spans one year, earns each participant three credit hours, and involves one four-hour meeting per month and four daylong meetings in the summer.

Those involved in the potential academic leaders experience, which targets professionals currently working toward master's degrees in educational administration, are going to undergo preparation to become principals in Catholic elementary schools. This two-year process is being limited to 10 members per year, five of whom are being selected to continue their education to obtain school principal licensure in Ohio with all tuition paid.

Participants in the science program, designed for teachers of grades four through six, are going to meet at monthly sessions and two weeklong sessions in the summer. Participants in the mathematics program, which targets teachers of grades one through three, are going to learn on a similar schedule.

"A good number of teachers in Cincinnati Catholic schools are Xavier graduates," says Graham. "This is a wonderful opportunity for Xavier to make an even greater impact on the quality of Cincinnati's elementary schools."

Xavier plans to hire a science educator and a mathematics educator for the last two years of the five-year program to serve as consultant, mentor and observer for the participating schools. In addition, a series of events featuring nationally known leaders in education will augment the academic opportunities for participants.

"Our goal quite simply is to continue to improve the quality of education in Cincinnati," says Dave Flaspohler, director of the Xavier center for excellence in education (X-CEED) and a professor of mathematics. Flaspohler, along with Michael Brandt, superintendent-in-residence in the University's department of education and a former principal and superintendent for Cincinnati Public Schools, is coordinating the Initiative for Catholic Schools Program.

"The members of the Buenger Foundation are very much interested in making it possible for Catholic schools to continue to enrich their educational programs," says Ann Buenger, foundation director. "We believe that together, Xavier University, a leader in Catholic higher education, and the Archdiocesan school office can make a powerful impact."

For more information, contact Brandt at 513 745-3482 or Flaspohler at 513 745-4359. Fact sheets about each program are available upon request.