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2013: New Year, New Initiatives

To Teach as Jesus Did:

Catholic Education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

January 2013


“2013:  New Year, New Initiatives”

As we approach Catholic Schools Week 2013 and continue to commemorate the Year of Faith, I’m pleased to announce two exciting initiatives, soon to be launched, that will present unique opportunities for a number of our schools to firmly advance the mission of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. 

The first initiative, Catholic Schools Milwaukee:  Light for the Future, will begin later this month in partnership with the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic education (ACE).  The Notre Dame ACE team will work with our Office for Schools and three cohorts of elementary schools in Milwaukee, with approximately nine schools in each cohort, to develop a unified vision for our 26 urban schools and to conduct an assessment of each school in five identified areas:  Catholic identity, academics, finances, governance, and institutional advancement.  The vision and assessment results will set a clearly defined course of action that will address identified priorities and empower schools to more effectively serve their current populations and maximize their capacity to serve others.

ACE is well positioned to do this work because it draws upon the resources and expertise developed over two decades of service to Catholic schools in (arch) dioceses around the country and is further supported by the research capacity of the University of Notre Dame.  The ACE team will include talented and seasoned experts in the areas of faith formation, academics, leadership/administration, data analysis, communications, finance, marketing, and enrollment management.  This comprehensive process will be made possible through the generosity of donors committed to excellent Catholic urban education.

Following the initial phase of this work, ACE will coordinate the efforts of various groups that have offered to provide a myriad of services and programs to address the priorities that emerge from the school assessments.  These organizations include the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC),  School Choice Wisconsin, PAVE, the Marquette University Catholic Education Leadership Institute, the Stollenwerk Family Foundation, and Notre Dame ACE Academies. 

The second initiative, a comprehensive school Culture and Climate Study, was made available to various urban Catholic high schools and will include participants Dominican High School, Messmer High School, St. Anthony High School, and Saint Thomas More High School during the second semester of this academic year.  Other high schools are currently conducting similar studies on their own or have recently done so.

This Culture and Climate Study, sponsored by the GMCEC in collaboration with the Office for Schools, will focus on perceptions of rigor, relevance, relationships, leadership, and Catholic instructional practice in each school, with a view toward reinforcing areas of strength and addressing areas of deficiency or misperception.   The ultimate goal, of course, is the improvement of the teaching and learning environment and overall educational effectiveness. 

In this Year of Faith, we’re profoundly blessed by these opportunities to build on the rich histories of our urban schools, strengthen their mission of evangelization, and develop new possibilities for transforming the lives of the children and families they serve.   We’re especially grateful to the courageous, creative leaders of these schools for embracing these initiatives with enthusiasm, imagination, and hope. 

A happy new year and Catholic Schools Week to all!

Kathleen A. Cepelka, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Catholic Schools

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