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Growth, innovation and leadership in our Catholic schools

This is an exciting time for Denver’s Catholic schools! We are looking forward to welcoming back thousands of children for the start of the new school year Aug. 22. Our pastors, principals, and teachers have been working diligently to prepare for another successful school year.

In addition, the Office of Catholic Schools has been actively working on a variety of initiatives over the summer that will strengthen the bright future of our schools. These initiatives are part of “Worthy of the Name,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila’s vision for the future of our schools that was released earlier this year (denvercatholicschools.com).

While there are many things to share about implementing the archbishop’s vision over the coming school year, I would like to briefly share three of these initiatives as they pertain to growing our schools, fostering innovation and providing leadership.

Growth: Catholic high school feasibility study

At present, the six Catholic high schools present in the archdiocese are currently at or are near capacity. As we continue to plan for the future growth of our schools, it is becoming clear that additional Catholic high schools may be needed to satisfy demand in the near future.

As part of our long-term planning efforts, we commenced a feasibility study this summer to examine the possible construction of up to three new Catholic high schools in various parts of the archdiocese. Findings should be finalized by our office in mid-2017, with next steps shared with the faithful of the archdiocese later in the year.

Innovation: Boards of Specified Jurisdiction

St. Joseph Catholic School in Fort Collins will begin this school year with a different and unique model of school governance. Using a Board of Specified Jurisdiction, the pastor will share overall governance of the school with a group of committed lay people and pastors from the local area. This summer, the governing statutes for the board were finalized and a highly effective workshop to train board members took place.

Similar models employed by Catholic schools throughout the east coast have produced promising results. Of the schools employing this governing model, 70% have been able to increase enrollment and 100% have been able to increase fundraising. Should the model at St. Joseph prove to be successful, we plan to invite other schools to adopt this form of governance in the future.

Leadership: Ongoing formation for Catholic educators to teach, lead, and serve our children

We are excited to gather 1,150 Catholic educators from all of our schools Sept. 30 to pray together and learn from one another. Using Matthew Kelly’s “Teach, Lead, Serve” book and its framework, our educators will begin to engage in a yearlong critical reflection and renewal of what it means to be a highly effective educator in a Catholic school. Principals will continue to lead these ongoing reflections and discussions with their teachers throughout this school year.

Archbishop Aquila and I wish to thank all of you for your continued support of Catholic schools. Our schools are individually excellent, but they are certainly better together as we continue to implement the archbishop’s vision to make them among the finest in the country.

Kevin Kijewski is the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Denver.

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