September 2016

Onward Leaders Blog: Cohort 1

From the Director: STAR September. Onward Leaders are looking at the DATA at their sites to create outrageous goals and small win goals to keep the outrageous doable. They attended Pastor/Principal Meetings, and attended a WCEA/WASC training in preparation of their visit in February as a team. Back to School Masses, BBQ’s, Back to School Nights and Parish meetings.  The shareholders are real now. They have faces and names. Clean answers to issues with students, parents, faculty and staff aren’t as easy when you know each person’s story.

They know what to look for in Adjusted Budgets and describe how and why those adjustments were made.  They know that budget to actuals keeps a leader on track and are worth the time. They know that enrollment drives their income and its impact on expenses. They have discussed processes for the collection of tuition and transparent financial assistance policies. They know which teachers need support and are providing that support.  These lead learners have facilitated faculty meetings, parent meetings and tuition negotiations. These experiences have brought them face to face with assumptions long held about faith, excellence and stewardship. Do we (the director includes herself in these questions) assume that lack of payment implies a devious plan to cheat the school? De we assume that the teacher is always correct or the student is always correct when there are behavior problems? Do we assume the parents don’t care because they haven’t responded to our email about their child?  Do we assume that parents aren’t really Catholic because we don’t see them at Mass? Do we assume that some students can’t learn because of x,y,z? We are all learning that assuming positive intentions is really hard without unearthing our negative assumptions first. Messy stuff.


Meg Samaniego, Onward Leaders Director

Reflections on Learning: Larger Community: Parish, Deaneries and Data!

When I become a principal I believe it is extremely important to devote time to create a positive relationship with the pastor. The pastor is the ultimate leader of the parish school and it is important to work together for the best interest of the community – especially the students.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to community partners and other nonprofits – a web of services and helpers can be beneficial for everyone. Also be creative with these opportunities – if financial donations can’t be made, what else can?

It was great to meet and learn about the different parish groups and experience my first parish council meeting. It was evident that my Master Principal has a good relationship with the parish community and the pastor recognizes how the principal has grown the school in different ways.

Looking at the STAR data, organizing the SS and PR with the cut scores on a sheet, color coding it (super cool to learn that sheets has a tool for this) was a great and clean way to look at the data.

The planning process of deanery collaboration is extensive, but very valuable. If a deanery does not have principals willing to take on the planning and additional collaboration meetings, I can see how it can lead to ineffective deanery PLCs and gaps within the system.

This week made me really think about grades and traditional school systems. Is this the best for our students?

The deanery system is supposed to be used to build systemness and create support among schools. By communicating DCS support and resources on the three pillars and allowing principals a chance to communicate their concerns and thoughts (northward and east/west), the system enables more participation.

Attending the CIP workshops as an administrator is allowing me to reflect on the importance of always examining the current practices set in place and to think of what action plan would be best for the reality of the school. Involving teachers in this process provides great insight.

During this data activity, we noticed patterns about our students in reading and math. Hopefully the teachers found this valuable as we identify our intervention groups and school-wide strategies we can use moving forward.

Taking a step back and identifying the assumptions about learning in regard to what type of school we envision.