March 2018

Onward Leaders Blog: Cohort 2


This is a reprise of my blog last year after chatting with one of the original principal residents in 2015-2016 who assisted me in designing the Onward Leaders Program.  After speaking with colleagues, it seemed appropriate to reprint. Our memories are short, and we often find ourselves in the same place each year. Must be the human thing.  

 Life in a Catholic elementary school shifts gears in November as the season of Advent, along with its preparations, liturgies and wakeful anticipation are felt throughout the parish school. December is a quick month and the joy of Christmas carries us to Christmas Vacation.  We return in January to preparations for Catholic Schools Week and Open Houses.  It isn’t surprising then that February and March are often a time of low morale with faculty, staff and parents and students.  Everyone is a little tired. Lead Learners at Catholic schools would be wise to listen to the soothsayer in Julius Caesar. “Beware the Ides of March” or may find themselves shocked by small eruptions of emotion, grievances and rumblings that were lost in the cacophony of activity in November, December and January.    If a leader can view these months as part of the natural rhythms of a school year, they can anticipate this lull and take extra care to be present for the community. This is not a time to disappear into your office or extend your wait time for responding to concerns, but to act promptly, practice patience and listen actively.  Simple, this is not, as our very own energy levels may be depleted and we may find ourselves discouraged and questioning our own abilities. Our faith can give us great comfort during these often dark days of the year. Daily prayer, a conversation with a trusted colleague and treating everyone with an intentional kindness (that may feel insincere- do it anyway), will often be the soothing balm necessary to help your community navigate their way to the joy of Easter.


During this time, Cohort 2 was part of a WASC Visiting Team, along with Danielle, the assistant director of the program. There are so many miracles happening in schools within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and they had the privilege of visiting one of these places of miracles. A school that serves not only the community, but reaches out to foster children who attend this school and benefit from the spectacular teachers and administration who exemplify what it means to journey with a community. At this holy place, children are allowed to be themselves. It is very ok not to be your best self everyday because you know what- adults aren't either. Every single action and word of the teachers and administrators is intentionally grounded in the belief of the dignity of every child. It is no surprise that the school has animals that visit regularly through its gates to seek refuge from the surrounding inner city chaos. These animals are welcomed, too. This school lives the mission of evangelization that Pope Francis beckons us to embrace as Catholic schools. This is a place where it is always Easter morning for the children it serves.


Cohort 2 Reflections on WASC Visit:


Serving on a WASC team helps to bring us out of the comfort of our own schools and to see the amazing things that are happening all over the Archdiocese.

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For me, the faculty was such a shining example of people living their faith through their work

​and​ their actions.

WASC is a time of learning and reflection not only for the school, but for the visiting committee as well.

Serving on the WASC team has been such a rewarding experience. I am inspired by the intentionality of all the staff from their procedures and routines to their display board. They are an example of what a school with a common vision and mission looks ​like.


Blessings on the remainder of your Lenten journey,


Meg Samaniego