Magazine article Momentum

The Catholic CONNECTION

Magazine article Momentum

The Catholic CONNECTION

Article excerpt

Catholic colleges and universities are making unique and important contributions to Catholic schools through educator preparation designed to engage teachers and leaders in the pursuit of faith formation and excellence in Catholic schools. This Catholic connection experienced at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles is similar to that of many Catholic colleges and universities across the nation. The focus of the Catholic Connection is on three Cs: collaboration, certification and commitment. This connection is rooted in the mission of Catholic colleges and universities, and it exemplifies the true commitment to the sustainability and viability of current and future Catholic school success. This important work of engagement can only be accomplished through true collaboration and partnership with local Catholic schools and dioceses. As a result of this collaboration. Catholic colleges and universities are able to certify teachers and leaders in the skills necessary to support the Church and to keep Catholic schools relevant in the 21 st century, the digital age and beyond.

Currently, 30 Catholic colleges and universities are collaborating through the CHESCS organization, (Catholic Higher Education Supporting Catholic Schools). CHESCS members work collaboratively to coordinate efforts and magnify the effect of members' work on behalf of Catholic schools. These efforts often result in joint research projects published in the Journal of Catholic Education, collaborative presentations for professional development and institutional sharing so that colleagues can direct their efforts towards the most effective practices available. The commitment to training and certification of Catholic school leaders is paramount in this collaborative work, as the school leader is a key element of individual school success.

Certification should be an important career goal for Catholic school leaders. Catholic universities graduate credentialed teachers and administrators, in addition to offering both master's and doctoral degrees in education. This is critical to the future of Catholic schools, because the research is clear; there is an empirical link between school leadership and improved school achievement. In fact, leadership is second only to classroom instruction in its influence on student learning (Wallace Foundation, 2011). The key aspect for Catholic school leaders, however, is that education at a Catholic university allows graduate students to think deeply about the whole child, including spiritual and faith formation and the significance of that child to the society and the culture in which he/ she lives. Catholic universities understand that learning cannot be complete unless it teaches to the heart and spirit, as well as the mind. Thus, in addition to a rigorous curriculum around instructional and curricular strategies, student assessment and school management, Catholic universities also provide leadership development around issues of Catholic social teaching, with a dedicated lens of social justice applied to educational contexts.

At Loyola Marymount University, graduate students take advantage of master's programs in Catholic administration, both face-to-face and online, and take classes in spiritual leadership, focused on mission and vision, in addition to courses that address issues of finance, law, strategic planning, and board development. …

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