July 2016

Onward Leaders Blog: Cohort 1

From the Director: As we move through our journey together this year, we will share our reflections and questions through this monthly blog.  July was busy with nine full days of training, one planning day with Master Principals and Onward Leaders and one field trip to a school site to get hands on experience organizing key files at a school site.

As Director, one of my goals is developing each Onward Leader’s understanding of their role in realizing the DCS vision of growth for the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  Exploring deeply how this vision of growth in Faith, Excellence and Stewardship will be influenced by our own personal values informs all of our work together. Uncovering our own assumptions about learning, faith development and stewardship through both research and experience remains the constant work of the lead learner.  However, there also exist hard skills of the lead learner that are process and content based and unique to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles system. They must be learned and understood, so that the murky, messy work of building a collaborative culture of learning can be realized. The future of Archdiocesan Schools in Los Angeles is bright.  Take a read.


Meg Samaniego, Onward Leaders Director

Onward Leaders Reflections on Vision and the ADLA Pillars: Faith, Excellence and Stewardship

I think the central interplay between vision and Catholic identity is centered on the “Why?” of the school. The Church, Archdiocese, Parish, and Principal take the lead on articulating the mission of the school in regards to the call to evangelize and serve the children of God. When the lead learner articulates a vision, it should be mindful of the roots of Catholic teaching and the documents and guidelines issued by the governing authorities.

The lead learner’s vision can be driving force in the Catholic identity of a school. If the lead learner does not know and understand their “WHY,” the Catholic identity of the school may suffer. We must know our own purpose before we can work towards the mission and vision of the school The lead learner’s vision should be connected directly to the larger vision of the Church, ADLA, DCS, and Parish. There should be similar vocabulary, terms, and goals. If not, there is a disconnect between the goals of the Church and the goals of our schools.

The vision of the lead learner influences the identity of the school in several key aspects that are essential to the effectiveness of the school site. It is essential for the vision to be connected and guided by the larger vision of the church as the school serves as a small component that should carry out that vision. The lead learner influences the Catholic identity of the school as it develops it with it’s stakeholders in order to best live it out with purpose.

The importance of a (shared) vision in creating a positive culture which is focused on student excellence and growth. This is where the pillars, PLCs, policies, procedures, etc. come in – they create the culture and climate while arising from the vision. Without a strong and shared vision, the culture of student learning cannot happen (well).

We are all part of the larger Catholic community and our mission is ultimately in forming the children to be citizens who give back to the world. We should constantly be asking ourselves the ‘why’ in everything we do and decisions we make as we are the lead learners of our communities that align with the larger vision of all other communities,

This week provided a clear picture of the different components of the pillars (especially stewardship) and it also simply allowed me to look at situations and components with a more critical eye. Envisioning myself as a part of the system and how through a shared vision, collaboration, and learning, we can transform an institution for the success of students is surreal. I feel and know that there is still a lot to learn but this week of learning and experiences has been wonderful! I definitely feel less intimidated by budgets and am eager to learn more about how to build a PLC and establish cultures that yield growth.