Fresh Beginnings — Three priorities to propel our schools forward

Amy Nall

The Office of Catholic Schools (OCS) eagerly anticipates the new school year and all of its possibilities. The past few years have been challenging in ways we never could have predicted, but we stand at the threshold of a new year anticipating the promises that fresh beginnings bring. Our Office of Catholic Schools exists to promote excellence in Catholic education by partnering with elementary and secondary schools to support the formation and growth of every student spiritually and academically.

Our Catholic schools persevered through the disruptions and challenges of the pandemic, continuing to offer the quality formation and education that are the hallmark of our schools. However, the reality is that there was interruption and disruption in most areas of everyone’s lives, including our schools. In response, as we move into this new, hopefully more normal year, OCS will focus intentionally on three priority areas to propel our schools forward.

  • Relationships: Authentic relationships form the foundation on which a vibrant Catholic community is built. Dedicated to reinforcing our parish and school communities, we are focusing on creating a positive culture and climate in which all members not only belong but believe in their worth and dignity. A particular priority this year will be nurturing the social and emotional wellbeing of our students. A focus on Catholic identity will permeate as we commit to sharing the Good News of the Gospel to instill faith, hope and love. The implementation of a new program called Friendzy is just one of the many ways we will intentionally nurture the social and emotional health of our students, helping them to develop healthy relationships, interpersonal skills, empathy and responsible decision-making.
  • Leadership: By investing in building the leadership capacity of our administrators and teachers, we are investing in our students. Research supports the correlation between student achievement and teacher leadership efficacy. Through programs such as our New Teacher Mentorship Program, our New Principal Support Cohort, a Principals’ Academy and our Merton Leadership Initiative, we remain dedicated to the development of our professional educators. We are supporting teachers and administrators in their capacity to provide the best education for our students.
  • Data and Best Practices: Collecting and using data is an essential component of academic progress. We continue to utilize data from a variety of resources to plan for continued and sustained student growth, viable programing and best instructional practices. The MAP Growth Assessment measures achievement and growth in math, reading and language usage. The ACRE (Assessment of Children/Youth Religious Education) measures knowledge of the faith as well as beliefs, behaviors, attitudes and practices of the faith. These are just two of the many resources used to provide consistent information to help teachers reflect on teaching and refine best instructional practices. Additionally, we are committed to ensuring our curriculum framework guides the instruction in the classroom. The reading and language arts curriculum was revised through the ’21-’22 school year and will guide instructional practices with a focus on the fundamentals of reading. The science of reading will be central to elementary school instruction and essential to success for students in all other academic areas as well.

Supporting the formation and education of our students through intentional efforts ensures that, as a community, we are united in our commitment to preparing, promoting and prayerfully guiding our students through their education and beyond.

Amy Nall is Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

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