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Catholic Schools Aligning for Success

Themes of collaboration and community characterized the second Aligning for Success, a biannual gathering of educators and school leaders in the Diocese of Birmingham. The Catholic Schools Office of the Diocese of Birmingham and the Diocesan Advisory Council for Catholic Education (DACCE) recently hosted the event at St. Bernard’s Preparatory School in Cullman. Attendees included principals, pastors, school advisory council members, and Chancery staff. Aligning for Success provides a forum for attendees to strengthen communication, monitor progress on implementing the Strategic Plan for Catholic Education for diocesan schools, and facilitate shared problem-solving.

Event moderator and DACCE Chair Dr. Joe Ross presented practical methods and best practices to build and sustain high performance and a spirit of collaboration and innovation within a strong Catholic culture. He challenged attendees to engage from a “growth mindset,” characterized by curiosity, creativity, problem-solving flexibility, seeking always to “make something great happen.”

The Strategic Plan for Catholic Education, finalized in 2019, comprises a five-year guideline for continued growth and improvement throughout the diocese in mission and Catholic identity, academic excellence, marketing and development, governance and leadership, and operational vitality. Margaret Dubose, superintendent of Catholic schools in the diocese, shared progress on areas identified in the plan, including:

Commendations for mission focus and unity in the 2022 Cognia Engagement Report for reaccreditation of schools in our diocese – and a stellar overall score of 334.19. The diocese exceeded both its 2015 score of 281.46 and the national average score range of 278.34-283.33. This unity of focus promotes innovative programs and improves student learning.

Continued benefits of NWEA MAP Growth, a formative assessment tool providing systematic information on student growth to help drive classroom instruction.

Partnerships with Mitchell’s Place and Notre Dame’s ENL Program to support the inclusion of students with neuro-diverse, physically diverse, and culturally diverse needs in our schools.

Initiation of ARK (Assessment of Religious Knowledge) and Franciscan University Catholic schools track for catechetical formation to aid religious instruction.

Dubose noted positive enrollment and retention figures throughout the diocese, emphasizing that numbers are “not the only measures of success as we are called to help students develop a lifelong Catholic vocation – whether married, single, religious, or clergy, throughout their work and family life.”

Final Strategic Plan Implementation Committee reports and break-out sessions with committees proved dynamic, thought-provoking, and filled with passion for the jewel of our diocese – Catholic schools!