When Bishop Dominic Lagonegro celebrated Mass for graduating 8th graders this past May, he spoke to them about living their faith and taking what they had learned into the next phase of life. To that point, the Northern Westchester/Putnam Catholic School Region learned a lot during its first year of regionalization and is building on that knowledge to benefit students in the region.
“The recent regionalization of the schools in the Archdiocese of New York has given us a new lease on life,” says Rev. Msgr. George Thompson, pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Bedford and a Member of the Regional Board of Trustees. “There’s a new spirit afoot, so I think that the future is bright, but it will depend on our efforts.”
There are certainly reasons to get excited about those efforts already underway in the region. New regional scholarships opened doors of opportunity for families desiring to send their child(ren) to a regional Catholic school. NY State Math test scores for 4th, 6th and 8th graders continue to rise across the region. Then there are creative teachers like Laurie Niederhauser from St. Patrick’s who co-authored a book of brainteaser puzzles using standard SAT words to improve students’ vocabulary and make learning fun.
Professional development of teachers remains a priority for the region. Together with neighboring regions, Northern Westchester/Putnam teachers attended a professional development summer workshop at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. Additionally, the region’s Instructionalist Specialist, Sara Gonzalez, along with Lisa Raggo-Ferraro, Instructional Specialist for Rockland/Ulster/Sullivan/Orange, conducted meetings throughout the year, giving teachers the opportunity to work together to develop best practices for instruction and assessment.
Recognizing the important role of parents in the education process, the region has also instituted the Homework Helper program, facilitated by Ms. Gonzalez. The program, which is also being implemented in the Dutchess Region, provides workshops that offer parents strategies for managing and assisting children with their homework.
But as with all our schools in the archdiocese, Catholic education is about much more than academics. “A Catholic education to me is the best way that parents can fulfill their responsibilities in handing on the faith,” adds Msgr. Thompson.