Author Archives: Dr. Tim Uhl | Superintendent

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April 22nd Newsletter on Capital Punishment

Inspired by my podcast conversation with Sr. Helen Prejean, I blog about the lessons she learned in this ministry and how good Catholics are not listening to each other.  I then present the best articles I could find related to capital punishment.  The Top 5:

  1. In the first section (“Articles About the Death Penalty”) the first link is to a great post about religion and the death penalty. It’s interesting to see the differing perceptions between religions as well as the relationship between adherence and position for/against the death penalty.
  2. In the second section (“Catholic Arguments For the Death Penalty”) the first article is written by Edward Feser, whose recent book has argued for the Catholic position favoring the death penalty, lays out the Catholic arguments for the death penalty.
  3. The next article lays out the USCCB (i.e. the Catholic bishops) position on the death penalty.
  4. The very next article presents the Catholic arguments against the death penalty is a succinct, articulate manner.
  5. I recommend reading the NCR article about Pope Francis’ position on capital punishment.

 


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April 15th Newsletter

Last week, Pope Francis released Gaudete et Exsultate (Rejoice and Be Glad).  It’s a great document and I encourage you to put it on your reading list.  Its emphasis on the “saints next door” and the “middle class of holiness” is refreshing.  Paragraphs 70-94 are a reflection on the Beatitudes.  Many of our Catholic schools claim “Gospel-centered” and possess Gospel.  Reading and reflecting of this portion might help articulate the specific values.  And don’t miss reading paragraph 115 on “verbal violence” especially pertaining to the Internet.  The Top 5:

  1. I included three articles interpreting Gaudete et Exsultate: “Francis’ New Exhortation a Call to Become Holy by Serving Others” in NCR, “Pope Francis’ New Exhortation: Jesus ‘Wants us to be Saints” from America Magazine, and my own “Reflections from the Middle Class of Holiness” from drtimuhl.com.
  2. The next article details an innovative entrepreneurial program at St. Labre High School—our sole American Indian Catholic high school in Montana. If you have any T-shirt or printing needs, give them a call!
  3. In the Catholic School News section, the first entry is a news article detailing a Catholic school principal’s firing, then an article protesting and calling for a Board of Limited Jurisdiction, and then an article announcing her re-hiring. I thought the Op-Ed was insightful and captures a movement within Catholic schools—that of revising governance.  For many Catholic schools, giving executive power to the pastor is no longer working for a variety of reasons—namely the pinch on pastors’ time.
  4. The next article in the section from Scott Macleod (the Dangerously Irrelevant blogger) centers on the benefits of active learning. While it seems to be centered on Kindergarten, Scott makes a number of great points about K-12 education.
  5. The final link is to a video about inclusion in the Diocese of Arlington (VA). It’s well-done, heartwarming, and serves as a call for action.  I love how the pastor says, “If you wonder how it’s done, give us a call.”

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March 25th Newsletter

Here is the link to the March 25th newsletter.

As we begin Holy Week, I offer a reflection on the tragedy which befell St. Francis Catholic School in my blog and discuss how our faith has provided a framework for dealing with the loss of a student.  The top 5 articles:

  1. In the American Catholic News section, I’ve included three articles on Cardinal Wuerl and Amoris Laetitia such as the summary from NCR. If you’re like me, you’ve heard the controversy about divorced Catholics receiving Communion but haven’t connected Amoris Laetitia to our ministry in Catholic schools.  You’ll think differently after reading these articles.
  2. In the same section, I’ve included a micro-blog entry from my friend Lisa Orchen “Easter Resources for Schools.” There are a lot of great links for understanding and displaying this liturgical season.  Often Catholic schools only celebrate Advent and Lent.  Thanks Lisa for bringing the Easter season to our attention!
  3. In the Teaching & Instruction section, Danny Steele’s blog post “Five Ways Teachers Can Impact School Culture” is full of great ideas on how teachers can make a difference. Yes, we all know that leadership is important.  But leadership doesn’t just come from principals!  Teachers have a tremendous impact on school culture.
  4. The first article in the Miscellany section (“A Deeper Look at the Whole School Approach to Behavior”) is a remarkable story about how to turn around a negative behavior environment.
  5. The next article from NPR centers on “The Fight Over Teacher Salaries” and includes average teacher salaries from every state. This is the time that boards, advisory councils, and pastors begin to discuss teacher salaries.  I find that they often lack the data to make informed decisions.

 


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Here is the link to the March 18th newsletter “March Madness.”

Top 5:

  1. Keeping the same theme, I included an article in the American Catholic News section about Sr. Jean Dolores-Schmidt, who joins the Loyola-Chicago team on the bench.
  2. In the Leadership section, the first two articles are on culture. The first article from HBR is one of the best articles I’ve read in some time.  “Create a Growth Culture, not a performance-obsessed one” contradicts many of our metrics- and outcomes-based orientations that are so prevalent in education.  How can we truly adopt a growth mindset in our schools?  The second article from David Brooks points out how principals build culture in a school.
  3. The 3rd article in that section is a tribute to the recently departed Roger Bannister and the 4-minute mile breakthrough.
  4. In the Teaching & Instruction section, “The Danger of Teacher Nostalgia” is self-explanatory. It’s a struggle every school needs to confront.
  5. The first link in the Miscellany section is an important article for all of us to read. “6 Ways to Cure Your Smartphone Addiction” from HBR is full of great tips and suggestions on how to deal with the always-connected mobile office at your fingerprints.

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Special Issue on School Violence

Here is the link to the March 11th newsletter focusing on school violence.  The top 5:

  1. The Daily” podcast from March 5th from the NY Times. It’s a heartbreaking but incredibly insightful 20 minute podcast with Parkland survivors.
  2. Jessica Lahey (author of Gift of Failure and former podcast guest) wrote a moving piece in the Washington Post “As a Teacher, I Always Worry About My Students. School Shootings Bring on new Nightmares”  An important piece to understand the stressors on teachers and administrators in light of recent events.
  3. How Can We Stop School Shootings? Secret Service has Some Ideas” from CBS News was the best piece with recommendations for changes in school procedures.
  4. Jennifer Gonzalez of “Cult of Pedagogy” fame, offers an Overview of Restorative Justice The insight is that if we can give our students voice and build connections with students, they will become emotionally safer.
  5. Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue, says America Magazine. This will be a challenging piece for those who have “pro-life” and “don’t take my guns” bumper stickers.  The Church challenges us to advocate for a seamless ethic of life.

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March 4th Newsletter

Here is the link to the March 4th newsletter.  In my blog today I spotlight Bishop McNamara HS in suburban Washington, DC.  Founded as a mostly-white all-boys school, it’s now a beacon of diversity.  My top 5 articles:

  1. Why Increased Enrollment of Hispanic Student Benefits Catholic Schools” is a great piece by Dr. Hosffman Ospino of Boston College in America. This is the first article in the American Catholic News section.
  2. Pair that article with the next two article in the American Catholic News section—the NY Times opinion piece “The Cruel Ploy of Taking Immigrant Children From Their Parents” and “Why Do Hispanics Leave the Church?” We need to face the realities (declining enrollments alongside a growing population of Hispanics in the Church) and we need to respond.  I think every Catholic school should put up a not-so-subtle banner outside the front door saying “Welcome Dreamers.”
  3. In the Leadership section, “Plan a Better Meeting with Design Thinking” from Harvard Business Review should help you re-think your faculty meetings, your Advisory Council meetings, and those boring meetings with the superintendent!
  4. In the Teaching & Learning section, I’ve included great articles on project-based learning and a great common craft video on flipping classrooms.
  5. In the Miscellaneous section, Matt Brower’s essay “Reflections on Human Life and Dignity” is a well-articulated argument for a consistent ethic of life.

Have a great week!


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Feb 25th Newsletter

This week’s newsletter highlights 5 more new Catholic schools and their great stories in the blog and podcasts.  In the newsletter, however, I’ve also included some of my favorite articles about school communication.  Specifically, I’ve included resources to help school leaders.  My favorite five articles are the first 5 listed:

  1. Justin Baeder’s “Brevity Challenge” has been very popular. He gives some great advice on effective emails.
  2. Shane Parrish’s blog post “Carl Braun on Communicating Like a Grown Up” is full of great advice. I’ve always thought that being willing to have the difficult conversations and enter into the fray is part of being an effective leader.
  3. It’s Not Just What You Say, It’s How You Say It” is a great advice for school leaders for effective communication. It supports the notion that it’s not about having the right words (i.e. in an email or written memo) but it’s paying attention to the relationships that matter.
  4. To be effective, school leaders need to engender and build trust. Thomas Murray’s “7 Ways to Build Trust With Your School Community” is a great reflection full of great ideas.
  5. Edutopia’s “Turning Classes Into Communities” strikes at the heart of what makes Catholic schools successful—community. Yes, we’re faith communities.  But ultimately if you ask any Catholic school parent what they like about Catholic schools they will point to the community or family feel.  We must continue to be intentional about building and supporting this.  This approach might mean making more phone calls rather than emails or memos as outlined by the Harvard Business Review’s “How Customer Service Can Turn Angry Customers Into Loyal Ones.”

Have a great week!


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FEb 18th Newsletter

Here is the link to the newsletter.  The Top 5:

  1. At the top of the American Catholic News section, there is a great feature story on Dr. RaeNell Houston, the superintendent for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Listen to my podcast interview from last fall with Dr. RaeNell here.
  2. As the immigration debate rages, Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners has a great article examining the Christian ethos of immigration reform. Replacing a family-based immigration system with a merit-based system has implications for our values.  Is economic value the best way to value citizenship?
  3. 6 School Culture Building Components,” a blog by Dr. Toby Travis, is a great reflection on building school culture. There’s a little bit of insight for everyone in this.
  4. I recommend you read the editorial “Gun Control is a Pro-Life Issue” as well as the NPR article entitled “Is There Any Way for Schools to Prevent Shootings?” and the story of the victims “Musician, Budding Scholars, Wrestling Coach, Soccer Player Among Fla. Shooting Victims.” We need to do a little bit of everything—put the story in context, figure how we can improve school security, and grieve the loss of our fellow Americans.  Gun violence is not a technical problem with a simple fix.  But that doesn’t mean we should give up trying to resist this “new normal” which has become a ritual for disaffected teens.

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David Faber the joy of the gospel

BONUS PODCAST
The Joy of the Gospel with David Faber

Category : Podcasts

David Faber the joy of the gospel

In the first year of his papacy, Pope Francis published the apostolic exhortation Joy of the Gospel, a book-length ode to evangelization. Four years later, the meaning of missionary discipleship is beginning to surround us. Last summer, the USCCB convened a special meeting to analyze, celebrate, and establish a common understanding for the American Catholic Church.

In the fall of 2017, the NCEA decided to use Joy of the Gospel as the source for its new vision for Catholic schools. Do you want to be part of the conversation? Then you need to read Joy of the Gospel. Start by picking up a copy then read my Wednesday Book Blog describing how to approach it.

Next, read the coverage of its release and the introductory pieces on it:

1. Fr. Stephen Bevans, SVD, offers a great introduction to Joy of the Gospel.

2. The National Catholic Register describes 9 Things to Know and Share about Joy of the Gospel

3. America presents an introduction to Joy of the Gospel

Have you read it yet? You really need to make the effort to read Joy of the Gospel.

Once you do, listen to my podcast with David Faber, the outstanding superintendent of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, on the Catholic School Matters podcast. 

 play on iTunes

RESOURCES

Try reading some of the lengthier pieces on Joy of the Gospel:

1. Kevin Cotter’s “Focus on Campus” blog offers some helpful tips on how to read Joy of the Gospel—including sharing great resources. He provides a great way to understand it depending on your level of interest.

2. Cardinal DiNardo shares his thoughts on Joy of the Gospel in a Crux interview. It’s interesting and a quick read.

3. Bishop Robert Barron describes Joy of the Gospel in a short video (9 minutes). Bishop Barron is always interesting to watch and the 9 minutes go by very quickly.

4. The Vatican provides a synthesis of the apostolic exhortation. Do you want to know the official word? The party line? Here it is!

5. Church Life, a scholarly magazine published by the Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame, published a special issue on Joy of the Gospel with lots of scholarly takes. The introduction is especially insightful but the issue itself will lead readers in a variety of directions.

If you’re interested in developing a faith formation program for your staff, here are 3 great options:

1. Paula Gooder from Church House Publishing offers a six-session study course in sharing faith based on Joy of the Gospel

2. The Jesuit Forum for Social Faith and Justice produced a resource for discussion and reflection on the Joy of the Gospel.

3. Catholic Theological Union (CTU) has a great introduction and a study guide with a 12- part series of videos/podcasts which can serve as an online PLC. These are short little vignettes from a variety of different topics. I’ve listened to these and really enjoyed their thought-provoking nature.

 


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Feb 11th Newsletter

Here is the link to the Feb 11th Newsletter.  My Top 5:

  1. The Need to Think Differently” in the American Catholic News section is a great blog post by Don Drees (President) Dr. Bill Hughes (Chief Academic Officer) of Seton Schools in Milwaukee. They argues that we (Catholic school leaders) need new thinking to avoid catastrophes such as the closing of Jubilee Catholic schools.
  2. The next article, “The Scariest Catholic in America” is a feature of Fr. James Martin. It should serve as a wake-up to Catholics to listen to one another and open our hearts to each other.  Otherwise, with friends like these, who needs enemies?  Divided we fall, folks.
  3. In the Catholic School News section, there is a combined NCEA/USCCB document on 529 plans. This FAQ would be a great resource for Catholic school marketing.  You might want to insert these in parish bulletins, post on your website, pass out to your parents, etc.
  4. In the Leadership section, the HBR article entitled “If You’re So Successful, Why Are You Still Working 70 Hours a Week?” is a great article examining what we define as success and what role negative motivators such as insecurity and perfectionism play in our lives.
  5. In the Miscellany section, I love the first article on individualism which appeared in the month’s Sojourners magazine. “Bowling Together” examines how communities have become separated and we need more emphasis on the common good.