Magazine article Momentum

Celebrating Pioneering Efforts

Magazine article Momentum

Celebrating Pioneering Efforts

Article excerpt

Recently I finished reviewing the Catholic school entries for the 2015 Innovations in Catholic Education Award. It is now more than 20 years that 12 Catholic schools have been recognized each year from across the country during the NCEA Convention. The award is sponsored by Peter Li, Inc. in collaboration with various educational corporate entities.

The history of the Innovations in Catholic Education Award begins with the New Frontiers far Catholic Schools Initiative sponsored in the early 1990s by NCEA and the Institute for Pastoral Initiatives at the University of Dayton. Dr. Regina Haney and Fred Brigham (NCEA) and I coordinated the New Frontiers Initiative. It began because we envisioned a need for Catholic schools to implement integrated, comprehensive technology plans into the curriculum. At the time, this was a radical idea across the board in education-not only Catholic education. Some of you may remember that 16mm filmstrip and overhead projector, and Gestetner (copying device) may have been the extent of our technology then.

We decided that the only way to initiate a paradigm shift would be by bringing together three faculty from each of 12 Catholic schools and immerse them in an intensive technology planning process. Since we needed to convince Catholic school administrators that it was worth their time and effort to explore an emerging technology vision for their schools, we identified educational corporate entities to financially sponsor each school's participation. Those early years were filled with unexpected adventure.

Every year we were able to introduce into the program rapidly expanding new technologies to prepare our Catholic schools for designing creative technology plans. We even produced live video conferences during the year via the Catholic Telecommunications Network of America complementing and sharing our experiences across the country. Almost every single one of the New Frontier schools became Blue Ribbon Schools and remained on the cutting edge of the learning technology revolution. Many Catholic educators who were engaged with the New Frontiers program continue to be outstanding leaders in Catholic educational leadership across the country. We encounter them each year during the NCEA Convention. They share wondrous stories of the influence the New Frontiers offered their advancement into today's digital age.

Early in the New Frontiers Initiative, Peter Li, founder and President of Peter Li, Inc., initiated a conversation with Regina Haney and me to discuss expanding the New Frontiers initiative to challenge more Catholic schools to think outside the box concerning their curricular and technological future. Thus was born the Innovations in Catholic Education Award. Initially the award focused on the design and implementation of creative technology plans within the curriculum. As the technological norm within the educational milieu grew more equipped and savvy, the award expanded to other fields where excellence in Catholic schools could be challenged and recognized, including faith formation, marketing, merging, Catholic identity, instruction and curriculum and community involvement. In some years, hundreds of entries reflected the shifting paradigm and pioneering efforts within our Catholic schools. Catholic schools were making a difference! The recognition and educational gifts the awardees received at a special banquet during the NCEA Convention encouraged and enabled most of these Catholic schools to go on to receive major grants and additional educational awards and recognitions. …

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