CatholicLink: Building Middle School Leaders

After leading the CatholicLink Middle School Leadership Conference in May, six Notre Dame Academy students participated in a week-long design sprint led by Abbie Withbroe, educator at St. John the Baptist, and Jaime Danen of Notre Dame Academy. The goal of the week was to develop a student-led character and leadership program for students from kindergarten through high school. The program they developed, Building Character, Growing Leaders, will help students develop the virtues and skills of strong leaders to impact their school and broader communities positively.

Throughout the summer, two of the students continued the work of the design sprint week to develop this leadership program which is now being piloted in three schools: St. John the Baptist, Notre Dame of De Pere, and Notre Dame Academy.

At all middle schools, students are leading and organizing leadership clubs that meet twice a month. The first meeting of the month consists of playing games and working on leadership skills, whereas during the second meeting the students plan lessons and activities which will be taught in K-5 classrooms.

At Notre Dame Academy 15 students are involved in the rollout of the program. They have named this program Notre Dame Leadership Academy (NDLA) and are working hard to involve many more students into the program.

Jamie Danen, Literacy Specialist and Equity Coordinator of Notre Dame Academy states, “This is an entirely student-led program. Students decide what the outcomes will be, how we will get there, and what it will look like when we are successful. They are intent on making this a program that is appealing to all students at NDA. Additionally, they are running each meeting, planning each event, and making deliberate decisions about what will and won’t be included in the program. I have never been involved with a group of students who have so genuinely owned their leadership position and are so excited to train and prepare the next generation of leaders for this program.”

Notre Dame Academy students had these comments to share about the program.

“I think that this is a rare program where change and progress really happen. You don’t see that with a lot of high school programs and I hope we can continue that.” – Camden – Senior, NDA

“The CatholicLink Leadership program is incredibly meaningful to me because I’ve always enjoyed taking on leadership positions, but I’ve never been involved in something so focused on cultivating the qualities of a truly good leader in me. I also love being a part of real programs and changes in our school community and the community as a whole.” – Adalyn – Senior, NDA

“The Catholic Link leadership program has been infinitely beneficial for me. It’s helped me improve in my con dence, organizational skills, communication skills, and, of course, leadership skills. I feel prepared for my future because of my work with CatholicLink.” – Eli – Senior, NDA

This program was supported by a grant to CatholicLink from the Kern Family Foundation and the students are excited to continue to develop and grow the program for all GRACE schools.

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Diocese Year of Worship and Retreat

The GRACE Catholic School System is committed to our mission. We are not just Christians on Sunday but at all times and in all aspects of our life. Likewise, at school, we aim not merely to integrate our Catholic faith but to be rooted in it in all ways. One of the defining characteristics of our schools is that we are always “steeped in a Catholic worldview.” So whether we are teaching the Revolutionary War in middle school social studies or learning about how seeds become plants in second grade, we seek to find opportunities to show children the centrality of God and the influence of the Church in the world.

This year the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced a national Eucharistic Revival, whose aim is to encourage “a movement of Catholics across the United States, healed, converted, formed and united by an encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist.” In support, Bishop David Ricken wrote a beautiful letter to our Diocese titled, Encountering Jesus in the Eucharist: Disciples Called to Worship.

During these next three years, Bishop wishes to lead us on a journey to better worship Jesus by focusing on encountering Jesus more deeply in the Word and the Eucharist. At GRACE, we aim to support this mission as we endeavor to help make sure all children know and love Jesus Christ.

Catholics believe that the greatest prayer of all is the Holy Mass, and it is especially beautiful when we bring our family on Sunday. As we seek to grow in our relationship with Jesus and strengthen our prayer lives, consider how your family will continue to make Sunday Mass attendance a priority.

In The Sacrament of Charity, Pope Benedict XVI told us, “The love of God that we receive in the Blessed Sacrament should lead us to love our neighbor (88).” Our GRACE teachers are hard at work each day, teaching children to pray, how to approach the Sacraments, and how to live our Catholic morality by guiding the way they act in the classroom and on the playground. We are proud of the ways we celebrate liturgical seasons like Advent and Lent, and each school attends Mass weekly as a community.

This year we ask all members of our GRACE community to join this great movement in our Church as we seek to encounter Jesus deeply and personally through the Eucharist. Parents can support our faith mission by asking their children what they are learning in religion class, taking time to pray as a family, going to Eucharistic Adoration, and attending Mass weekly as a family.

GRACE Announces the Adoption of Project Lead the Way

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) enhances our rich educational experience through interactive, hands-on experiences. Our faith-filled teachers will lead the instruction while ensuring that our Catholic values and Catholic Social Teaching concepts are expertly woven throughout the content. Through PLTW Launch (K-5), students will become collaborative problem solvers and creative thinkers. Students use structured approaches, like the engineering design process, to employ critical thinking skills to solve scientific issues that relate directly to real life experiences. They will apply STEM knowledge and learn that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes.

Our Catholic worldview will be threaded through each lesson and hands-on experience. This program will allow students to develop a strong foundation in math and science, and make connections between their classroom and future careers. PLTW Launch taps into students’ exploratory nature, engages them in learning that feels like play, and encourages them to keep discovering — now and forever. Each semester, GRACE families receive their student’s individual NWEA MAP Student Progress Report accompanied by an explanatory summary letter.

Impact of Project Lead the Way

A recent study shows PLTW students outperform their peers in school, are better prepared for post-secondary studies, and are more likely to consider STEM careers compared to their non-PLTW peers. Students find PLTW programs relevant, inspiring, engaging, and foundational to their future success.

GRACE middle school is also updating its science curriculum resource to iScience. During the selection process, iScience stood out to our middle school teachers because it enforced the three key discipline areas: Life Science, Physical Science, & Earth and Space Science. In addition, the materials the program provides will prepare students for high school science classes. This includes non-fiction reading skills, hands-on collaboration experiments, academic writing, and more.

Notre Dame of De Pere’s Student Spotlight

GRACE’s spotlight series continues today at our very own Notre Dame of De Pere. Today we highlight Macey G.!

Principal Mrs. Mares states: “There is a snippet of a bible verse that includes the words ‘joy comes in the morning.’ Macey is the embodiment of this piece of scripture. Macey is a ray of sunshine who warms the lives of all who come in contact with her. She is inquisitive, always wanting to know more about the world and the people around her. She goes out of her way to share a smile and a high-five with anyone who may need it.”

Thank you Macey for being a positive example for others!

Superintendent’s Letter: A Word from Drew Mulloy

I am pleased and humbled to serve as the newly appointed Superintendent of GRACE school systems. I wish to outline and clarify some of the distinct duties and responsibilities that fall into my role as Superintendent. My service to our GRACE schools has a primary aim of looking to the future for our growing system rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • Curriculum– GRACE has many ongoing processes to review, update and adopt curriculum resources. In collaboration with GRACE Curriculum Director Laura Blicharz, I will lead and oversee these processes. Likewise, I will lead the planning and implementation of the professional development of our teachers to ensure they are prepared to teach our students.
  • Technology Integration– Along with the leadership of Technology Integration Coordinator Carrie Gossens, I oversee the long-term planning in place for the ways technology is used to support learning. Aspects of technology integration that fall into my duties include overseeing how technology is used in our classrooms, the training our teachers have, and the so ware that is approved.
  • Communications/Marketing– Building on the success of GRACE’s enrollment growth and successful techniques to invite families to join
    our community, I am developing comprehensive strategies and identifying new ways to tell our
    story and engage new families. With the support of Marketing and Communications Director Madeline Janssen, I am overseeing our internal and external communication plans to continue sharing the Gospel and the good work going on in our schools.
  • Support for Leadership and Strategy– Our GRACE principals are some of the strongest, most hard-working leaders in Green Bay, and I am supporting their work and leadership by providing resources and helping to steer unifying long-term strategies in our GRACE system.

My office is located at the GRACE Riverside Drive office, and I enjoy regularly getting into each of our nine schools. It is a full-time role, and I report to the President, Kim Desotell. I welcome you to reach out and connect with me as we work together to provide the best in Catholic education for the children in Green Bay.

In Christ,

Drew Mulloy

GRACE Superintendent