Roche Center Hosts Pastors and Principals

Roche Center Hosts Pastors and Principals

CHESTNUT HILL, April 1, 2013– The Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education of Boston College hosted the second annual Pastor and Principal Leadership Conference at the Connors Retreat and Conference Center in Dover, MA.

The two-day conference, beginning on July 18th, brought together ten teams of pastors and principals from parish schools throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Virginia. The theme of this year’s conference was, “Celebrating the Mission Together.”

“There are very few opportunities for pastors and principals to meet together with other parish-school leaders to examine leadership for effective schools. This conference served as a forum for the pastors and principals to share experiences with leaders from other parishes and acquire new information regarding expectations for effective 21st century Catholic Schools in multiple areas including mission, curriculum, assessment, technology, and marketing,” said Dr. Patricia A. Weitzel-O’Neill, Executive Director of the Roche Center.

The conference featured six respected experts who provided insight into crucial aspects of school leadership and facilitated discussions and work on Catholic identity, branding, learning networks, and collaborative practices to support sustainable Catholic Schools. Central to the conference was the integration of the newly published National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.

Dr. Lorraine Ozar, Director of the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University Chicago, provided the keynote address and multiple work sessions as she encouraged the pastor and principal teams to plan and work more collaboratively with the whole school community and  to address both the opportunities and challenges facing schools in the 21st century.  The National Standards, she urged, were an effective means to support their work and measure their success.

Professor Gerald Smith, Chair of the Marketing Faculty of the Carroll Graduate School of Management and winner of numerous distinguished teaching awards, emphasized the importance of each school defining the distinct value proposition that embodies the mission and Catholic identity of the school.  Further, enhancing the school’s marketing and branding strategies, he argued, was an essential step to boost school enrollment in an increasingly competitive education marketplace.

Boston College President, Father William Leahy, SJ, attended part of the conference to celebrate mass and meet and share ideas with many of the pastors and principals. Other presenters included Dr. Patricia A. Weitzel-O’Neill, Executive Director of the Roche Center for Catholic Education, Rob Mancabelli, co-author of Personal Learning Networks: Using the Power of Connections to Transform Education, Dr. Erik Goldschmidt, Director of The Church in the Twenty-First Century Center of Boston College, and Dr. Mary Ellen Hrutka, Executive Director for the Mid Atlantic Catholic Schools Consortium.

During the coming year, conference attendees will continue to share ideas, resources, and strategies with follow up gatherings beginning in November and with NING, an online professional learning community administrated by the Roche Center.   This conference is one of several professional development programs hosted by the Roche Center for Catholic Education throughout the year.

The Barbara and Patrick Roche Center for Catholic Education, rooted in the Ignatian culture of Jesuit education, provides professional advancement opportunities, applied research, support, and outreach for Catholic educators to ensure the sustainability of Catholic education. For more information, please visit