Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools
During the past week, I had the privilege of participating in the annual meeting of the Chief Administrators of Catholic Education (CACE) in Charleston, S.C. Over 250 Catholic school superintendents, directors of Catholic education, and other Catholic educational leaders engaged in four intense days of learning, dialogue, and prayer. Topics of current relevance and interest to everyone, from all geographic areas and from dioceses of varying sizes, were formally and informally explored.
What are some of the key issues facing Catholic educational leaders across our country in 2011? Here are a few:
• Valuing leadership as a “call to discipleship”
• Marketing and enrollment management
• Promoting stewardship to advance Catholic education
• Establishing national standards and benchmarks for effective Catholic schools
• Addressing the needs and challenges of elementary school principals
• Evaluating the president/principal model for Catholic secondary schools
• Understanding and maximizing benefits from federal education programs
• Planning for a sustainable future
• Upgrading curriculum for the 21st century learner
• Attracting, serving and retaining Hispanic students and families
• Understanding recent legal cases impacting Catholic schools
• Common core state standards and Catholic schools
My summary statement to our Office for Schools staff upon my return was simply, “I’m so grateful to be where I am. I wouldn’t want to be a Catholic school leader anywhere else” because, for each of the national issues listed above, I believe we have set a local direction and, in many cases, moved a fair way along its path.
I was especially struck by the information provided about marketing and enrollment management and realized again how fortunate we are to have an outstanding marketing team in our Office of Communication that puts us way ahead of what’s being recommended as best practices in that area. Likewise, our vision for regional school planning, including the recently completed study of all our school facilities, should contribute significantly to the overall future sustainability of Catholic education in this Archdiocese.
We certainly have countless challenges ahead and equally many school-related concerns that demand more concerted efforts from us as school leaders. Such issues as attracting, servicing, and retaining Hispanic students, for example, would fall immediately into the category of “much more work to be done.” Nevertheless, in light of national leaders’ conversations about topics of importance and relevance for 21st century Catholic schools, I believe we can be humbly grateful for our current positioning.
A blessed November, the month for special remembrance and giving thanks, to all.
For more information about Catholic education within the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, please click here.