2015-2016 New York Archdiocese At a Glance
Superintendent of Schools Office
1011 First Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Total Number of Schools
The mission of the Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of New York is to ensure our schools are Christ-centered, academically excellent, and welcoming communities that teach students to be life-long learners and leaders energized by fidelity to Christ, the Church, and one another.
Catholic School Experience
Catholic education in the Archdiocese of New York began in 1800 in St. Peter’s Parish in lower Manhattan. Today, Catholic educators in the archdiocese serve more than 71,000 students from Pre-K to twelfth grade in rural, urban and suburban settings throughout the ten southern counties of New York State. Building on more than 200 years of inspiring students, our Catholic schools offer an excellent, nurturing, values-centered education in a structured environment that helps children of all backgrounds realize their fullest potential as human beings.
In Catholic schools today, a love of learning starts in Pre-K and continues through the years, with 98 percent of our high school seniors graduating and 98 percent of those graduates going on to post-secondary education.
Our Catholic faith is central to what we do, and we proudly teach it. Gospel ideals permeate the substance and structure of our lessons. We share our faith through daily prayer and the regular celebration of Mass as a school community. We foster a spirit of Christian service as an expression of our concern for the needs of others. Character formation and personal spirituality are rooted in the study of Catholic teachings and tradition, as well as sacramental preparation.
Our academic programs grounded in basic skills meet the varied needs of each school community by incorporating technology, advanced math, hands-on science, and foreign language coupled with the various forms of art study. We offer a forward-focused curriculum, integrating technology into classroom instruction, preparing our students to compete in an increasingly complex world.
Our students are motivated to do their best. We help them understand their talents, find meaning in their lives and build on their strengths to achieve success in school and beyond graduation. We provide them with the skills and inspire the self-discipline and confidence needed for them to take their places as compassionate leaders in their communities and in society.
The Catholic school experience is an unparalleled opportunity to develop a child’s mind, heart and soul.
“You show me a school that is thriving, and I’ll show you a strong school leader with a vision.”
-Timothy J. McNiff, Ed.D., Superintendent of Schools
Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York continue to be places where children grow and learn. I firmly maintain, however, it is the adults in our school buildings who make the magic of effective learning happen, specifically our dedicated principals. You show me a school that is thriving, and I’ll show you a strong school leader with a vision, which is why we decided to spotlight some of our exceptional principals in this year’s Annual Report.
Our strategic plan, Pathways to Excellence, laid out the roadmap for advancing Catholic education in the Archdiocese of New York, but implementing its strategies required resolve and heavy lifting on the part of our principals. While they are supported by a talented team of Regional Boards of Trustees, Regional Superintendents and Regional Business Managers, the principals are ultimately the ones who set the tone for everything that happens in our Catholic schools. Read More
Excellence Starts at the Top
“Principals must be innovators and inspirational role models for our young people. Investing in them is investing in our Catholic faith.”
-Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
The principals highlighted in this report emulate the many outstanding principals from across the archdiocese, who perform heroically throughout the school year. We are blessed with a wealth of homegrown talent. We are also committed to those promising principal candidates, currently teaching in our Catholic schools, who aspire to be principals through the Curran Principal Academy, a two-year training program that, in partnership with the archdiocese, collaborates with Fordham University, Saint John’s University and the University of Notre Dame.
Many of our experienced school leaders graciously serve as mentors to graduates of the Curran Academy. We continue to make professional development a priority for current principals, as well.
No less important are our teachers who inspire the students in their classrooms. Academic excellence has long been a hallmark of Catholic education. This past year has been one of adjustment with the continued implementation of the National Common Core Learning Standards (“CCLS”). Last spring, students in grades 3 through 8 took State ELA and Mathematics tests based on these higher standards. As with anything new, there were “growing pains” and scores reflected the difficulty of these rigorous standards. To maximize student readiness, comprehensive training was provided to teachers by Catapult Learning, a national leader in educational professional development. Regional Instructional Specialists were also hired for each region to provide ongoing, onsite assistance to schools.
Over the past year, other dynamic changes have occurred to enhance classroom instruction. We shifted our school accreditation process from Middle States to AdvancEd, the largest community of education professionals in the world. This shift provides us with a more consistent and comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of our schools’ performance, with a focus on continued improvement.
We have also explored unique opportunities to more effectively integrate technology into our classrooms, piloting blended learning programs at several schools. These schools are using technology in creative ways to enhance learning. Technology is also helping teachers refine their skills through our innovative partnership with TEQ, an online portal that provides teachers access to cutting-edge professional development resources to better enable student achievement.
Faith Comes First
Yet our schools are about so much more than academics. Everything we do is ultimately rooted in our Catholic faith. It is the core mission of our schools to pass on the faith within a distinctively Christ-centered learning environment where the dignity of the human person is paramount. To that end, we continually strive to enhance the spiritual formation of our students, as well as of our principals and teachers.
Our annual Religion Test scores continue to rise, with 99% of elementary schools passing the exam. As part of our commitment to maintaining the highest quality religious instruction – so central to the Catholic school experience – we have identified more effective methods for tracking the process for catechist certification of all teachers; initiated strategies to revise our Catholic Identity Assessment Tool in alignment with the new AdvancEd accreditation process; and have made plans to institute a virtue-based curriculum that infuses faith into all classroom instruction. Among our proudest accomplishments this past year, the archdiocese spearheaded a partnership with Word on Fire Productions to create “The Catholicism Project,” a multi-media resource currently available for grades 6-11, based on Fr. Robert Barron’s acclaimed “Catholicism” video series. This donor-funded initiative provides grade specific lesson plans, each related to a particular article of the Catholic faith and written by a team of religion teachers from the archdiocese. These lesson plans are supported by a DVD of dynamic vignettes from Fr. Barron’s series.
The Road to Success Starts Here Parents’ demand for high-quality Early Childhood Education programs continued to rise this past year. We responded by working closely with the Mayor’s Office of New York City and State agencies to significantly expand access to free Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) in our schools, adding 3,200 UPK seats across the archdiocese.
Catholic education is a continuum of success from Pre-K through high school. Our high school senior graduation rate is an astonishing 98%, and of those graduates 98% go on to pursue post-secondary education, many earning
scholarships at some of our nation’s top colleges and universities.
Making Our Voices Heard
Standing alongside our partners in Albany, the NYS Catholic Conference (NYSCC), we continue our advocacy for the Education Investment Tax Credit, a common-sense measure which would encourage increased charitable donations to generate more private scholarships, as well as dedicate additional resources to public schools. To find out more about this important legislation or to contact your local elected officials, visit the NYSCC at www.nyscatholic.org.
We’ve also engaged City, State and Federal offices on issues that affect Catholic school families, including transportation, school nurses and mandated services. We recently piloted a child nutrition initiative, “Breakfast in the Classroom,” at six school locations. The program provides students with a free, healthy breakfast, which statistics show reduces tardiness and disciplinary issues, while raising test scores.
A Commitment to Customer Service
Significant investment was made this past year in the areas of Marketing and Recruitment. Ongoing archdiocese-wide initiatives, including Touring Tuesdays, continue to ensure a consistently positive customer experience. Last year, more than 1,200 interested families made reservations for these universal open houses, which are supported locally by Regional Marketing Specialists and our growing team of “Madrinas,” Spanish-speaking parent volunteers who provide culturally-responsive recruitment outreach among the various Hispanic communities served by our schools.
Information about our schools is now just a simple telephone call or mouse click away. Our recruitment hotline (646-794-2885) is operated 24/7 by bilingual telemarketers, who have fielded more than 9,000 inbound and outbound calls from/to parents inquiring about Catholic schools. School front office staff have received customer service training. New recruitment tools, such as digital fax numbers, help facilitate logging all leads into Salesforce®, our state-of-the-art data collection software, ensuring a timely follow-up response.
Parents can also access information any time through our fully redesigned Superintendent’s website, www.BuildBoldFutures.org, which was completed this past year. The new site includes more than two hundred pages of content – available in Spanish and other languages – with new features, such as an interactive school locater map and a fully “responsive” format to adapt viewing and functionality to handheld devices like cell phones – where 50% of online research is conducted by parents.
Opening Doors to Opportunity
We know that not every family who desires a Catholic education can afford it.
To help those parents overcome financial hurdles, we have bolstered our efforts to provide more scholarship opportunities via new revenue to fund Regional Scholarships that directly benefit new families in each region. This is in addition to the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by the archdiocese in existing scholarship programs, including more than $350,000 in scholarships in 2013-14 to help underserved Latino students, as a result of our Madrinas Scholarship Program (MSP). Since 2012, the MSP has yielded 1,000 enrollments in 28 designated schools. Since 2008, the Catholic Alumni Partnership (CAP) has been dedicated to preserving our Catholic schools
through alumni and friends who support, advocate and partner with us to stabilize and ensure Catholic elementary schools’ long-term viability.
One new way we are helping schools is through “School Champions,” an initiative which provides business, nonprofit and community leaders with the opportunity to support a Catholic elementary school, by offering financial support, personal connections and professional expertise. More than 70 volunteers are working with 15 schools in Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester, raising funds and providing other necessary support.
Partnering for the Future
Now in its second year of independently managing the academics, operations and administration of six inner-city Catholic elementary schools — three in Harlem, three in the South Bronx — the Partnership for Inner-City Education has seen gains in the efficiency of school operations and has invested millions of dollars in capital improvements.
With the recent hiring of Superintendent and Chief Academic Officer, Kathleen Porter- Magee, the Partnership is now implementing a targeted and strategic plan to raise academic achievement levels dramatically in English Language Arts and Math at its six schools. By working closely with the network principals and teachers, Porter- Magee and her academic team will provide the professional development and resources needed to drive academic gains for all 2,113 students in this innovative network.
In addition, the Partnership has been in communication with other dioceses around the country that are interested in replicating this model.
Five years ago we had a vision. Together, we have made that vision a reality. It wasn’t always easy, but certainly worth it. Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of New York are not just surviving, they are embracing new ideas and meeting higher standards. But perhaps the most gratifying victories cannot be captured in an annual report: the smile of a student who finally “gets” a difficult concept; the pride of a teacher who encourages curiosity in a young mind; the joy of a parent whose son or daughter runs out of school beaming with a love of learning; the support of a prayerful community shared during good times and bad. There are no metrics or pie charts to measure these kinds of successes that take place every day in our schools.
Behind each of those personal triumphs is an individual. I am grateful for all those individuals who have lent their support to Catholic education during 2013-14 and have, as this annual snapshot details, collectively laid down – brick by brick – a “pathway to excellence” in which we can all take pride.
— Timothy McNiff, Ed.D.,
Superintendent of Schools