Posts Tagged 'Catholic education'

Finding the Go(o)d in all Experiences

blog jan 30 picBy Taylor Gall – I was not always a golden eagle.

For the first year of my college experience, I attended a small private school in northern Wisconsin. After deciding it wasn’t for me, I transferred on a whim to Marquette. What began as something I didn’t put much thought into has turned out to be the best decision I have ever made.

I have found wonderful people here at good ole MU. Somehow 12,000 great people have been packed into a neat little package that sits in the heart of the 414 area code, and I have been offered countless opportunities that I never would have had at another institution.

Marquette’s Service Learning program is a big part of what makes this an exceptional institution. While I feel as if I’m receiving a magnificent education in the classroom, I also know that I am gaining immeasurable experience student observing in the Milwaukee Public School District and volunteering in the heart of the city.

Teaching students how to teach can only go so far – the experiences that Marquette’s College of Education provides students while in a classroom are extremely valuable, and they will set us apart from the pack. Marquette makes us into teachers starting on day one of college, not just day one of student teaching.

Marquette’s Jesuit mission of “finding God in all places” is also a beautiful asset that Marquette has armed us future teachers with. There is beauty in digging for the good, for the God, in all situations we are handed.

Sassy student with no respect for you? Marquette has taught us to look into his situation and seek out the lessons his defiance can teach us. There is goodness to be found in all people – even the difficult ones.

Trying day on the job? Find God’s lesson in your struggle. We are faced with struggles for a reason, and we learn by overcoming them. Even as teachers, we continue to learn from our daily successes and failures.

Feeling lonely on this campus of 12,000? Look around you, and you will find a friendly face that is finding the Go(o)d in you.

I have found wonderful things in my last year and a half at Marquette, and I look forward to finding many more wonderful things as I continue to be a proud golden eagle.

The Magic of Tuesday Night Mass

By Aubrey Murtha — Every Tuesday night in that little sanctuary sandwiched between oodles of academic buildings, a group of eager Marquette students gathers to sing and pray.



I don’t know if it’s the beautiful simplicity of the setting, the humble way that over a hundred college kids cram—pretzel legged, mind you—onto the stone floor of a tiny chapel, or the force with which every individual sings each and every song, but there is something about that mass that’s completely intoxicating.  You might be thinking that it is strange to use that word to describe worship, but let me assure you of something: prayer can give you a buzz that is far more potent than that of any substance.

I will admit that I am kind of a church freak.  I am not a religious fanatic or a very holy person, although I do aspire to be.

I don’t pray every day.  I make lots of mistakes and my faith seems to come in waves.  However, there is something about a good mass that really gets me.  I like to cozy up with a bunch of strangers, close my eyes, open my heart, and sing loudly and not very well to a bunch of awesome church songs.  Church gives me a solid hour at least once a week to be alone with God, while in the presence of tons of other believers.  Funny how that works!

I think my Tuesday night mass experiences highlight the value of private, Catholic higher education for your typical Catholic college student.  I’ve been in Catholic schools all my life, but I have never felt the powerful effects of prayer as profoundly as I do every Tuesday night at Marquette University.  Never before have I had the opportunity to be around a dynamic group of very involved students who voluntarily choose to attend mass on a week day.  Even though I am an average Catholic, I feel so invigorated every time I leave Joan of Arc at 11:00PM.  The Marquette community and the Catholic, Jesuit atmosphere here force me to foster my faith and push me to take advantage of opportunities to grow in that faith.

Whether or not you are a Catholic, a Christian or a believer of any sort, I would encourage you to try a Tuesday night mass just once.  You may just see what a rewarding experience it is!

Honoring Our Beloved K-12 Catholic Schools: Debunking Common Myths and Looking Ahead

Catholic-Schools-Week-2013By Bill Henk – With Catholic Schools Week now squarely upon us, it’s only fitting to honor these educational treasures.  Today’s affirmation takes the form of putting K-12 Catholic schools into proper perspective and looking toward a brighter future.

You see, there are a lot of misconceptions about Catholic schools out there,  and it’s high time to set the record straight.  And there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about Catholic education, especially when these common myths can be dismissed.

Sad to say, one of the reasons I know about these faulty perceptions is that I harbored many of them myself even as a lifetime Catholic.  It surely didn’t help that I am the product of public education from kindergarten all the way through my doctorate and then worked in public universities until 2004.  In fact, even in my first few years at Marquette, a Catholic university no less, I still didn’t truly grasp the realities of Catholic schools.

It wasn’t until I helped to co-found our Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC) almost five years ago that I finally started to become enlightened.  Since then, I have literally become a student of K-12 Catholic education, which explains the heightened awareness that I feel compelled to share with our readers here.

So, with the help of my valued colleagues in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Office For Schools and the GMCEC, I’ve assembled  a list of common Catholic school myths below.  Be forewarned, I  don’t elaborate much, and believe me, it’s probably for the best, because I’m hardly an expert.  Instead I’m relying on your willingness to acknowledge that the very opposite of each statement represents the truth.

So What are the Myths?

Continue reading ‘Honoring Our Beloved K-12 Catholic Schools: Debunking Common Myths and Looking Ahead’

Tuesday Trivia – January 29, 2013

Did you know that this week, January 27th-February 2nd, is Catholic Schools Week? Let’s see what else you know!

What is the theme of this year’s Catholic Schools Week?

Claim your chance to win by leaving the correct answer in the comments section below anytime today between 7am – 6pm. And don’t be afraid to play, even if someone has already posted the right answer! One winner will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers after the close of business and announced the following day.  The winner will be posted on our Facebook page and notified by email.  Please note that you must have a valid email address listed in your comment or WordPress profile to win.


How much do YOU know about Marquette University and the College of Education? Test your knowledge every Tuesday during Tuesday Trivia!

Marquette and the Cristo Rey Network: Extending Our Partnership

By Dr. Bill Henk — Somehow it seems only fitting — two exceptional educational enterprises with shared Jesuit roots working together toward the greater good.  In this case, it means providing rare educational opportunities for deserving, low-income minority high school students.

That’s why the College of Education at Marquette University proudly announces its newest partnership with the Cristo Rey Network (CRN), a feasibility study to determine if such a high school will be right for the city of Milwaukee.  The project became official when our application was formally approved by the Network’s board of trustees on August 20.

Working with Cristo Rey is hardly new for us at Marquette. For several years we’ve admitted graduates of Cristo Rey high schools, all of whom have participated in a unique corporate work-study program and a rigorous college preparatory curriculum.  In fact, our institution became a National University Partner for Cristo Rey in 2011, and received a special award for our collaborative efforts at the CRN summit this past July.

Now, thanks to a generous lead gift from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, we’re going to build upon the mutually beneficial history we’ve enjoyed with the Network in a precedent-setting initiative.  We’re gratified and honored to be the very first university in the country to sponsor such a feasibility study, one of several that are currently underway as Cristo Rey, already probably the largest network of interrelated schools in the country, seeks to increase to 50 sites in the next decade.

About Cristo Rey

For those not familiar with the Cristo Rey school model, the corporate work-study program pays for a majority of the cost of its students’ educations. Basically they attend tightly scheduled, intensified high school classes four days a week and job share at a local company a fifth day as part of a team.

Although Cristo Rey schools aim to serve economically-challenged students with limited educational options, they are open to students of all faiths and cultures. Each school in the network is accredited by a recognized regional association and offers a demanding curriculum designed for a high level of student engagement. Each school also has a religious sponsor, and of the 25 schools in the Cristo Rey Network, 11 are sponsored by a Jesuit entity.

Stories in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Milwaukee Business Journal, the Catholic Herald, and the National Review have highlighted the program’s successes and the numbers are impressive. Nearly 100% of Cristo Rey graduates are accepted to college or university, and nearly 85% of them enroll.  Approximately 350 Cristo Rey Network graduates have enrolled or graduated from an AJCU institution over the last 8 years.  In addition, ongoing studies of college retention and degree completion rates already show very favorable results when compared to students of similar backgrounds.  The success of the Cristo Rey Network has attracted a great deal of media attention including an informative and affirmating segment on 60 Minutes.

About Our Study

The Milwaukee feasibility study engages Marquette to do what we do best: conduct research around an important social problem – in this case, the lack of quality educational opportunities for urban school children and how we can help shape possible solutions.  As a research university, we’re strongly positioned to do the data collection and objective analyses necessary to determine the school’s viability. Specifically, we’ll examine:  (1) the interest of local shareholders, particularly families, in this type of schooling, (2) the willingness of the business community to support job placements, (3) the generosity of Milwaukee’s philanthropic interests, (4) the possible location and facility for the school, and (5) its sponsorship and governing board.

In recent weeks, Andy Stith, the study’s feasibility director, Jeff Snell, my Marquette University co-principal investigator, and I have been meeting with community leaders to introduce or reinforce the Cristo Rey concept and gauge initial interest.  I’ll be eager to see where the study takes us as it progresses, but it’s important for everyone to keep in mind what the criteria for a successful study amounts to from the University’s perspective.  Our work will be effective to the extent that we make an accurate assessment of whether the school is viable and sustainable, not whether it becomes a reality.

And by the way, the feasibility study aligns with the College of Education’s efforts to support K-12 Catholic schools throughout our region and beyond.  It’s the same motivation exercised in our co-founding of the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC), a highly regarded partnership of the five Catholic colleges and universities in our urban Archdiocese.

A Little History and the Future

For the record, the possibility of a Cristo Rey school in Milwaukee actually received consideration about three years ago.  Interest seemed high among some community leaders, but religious sponsors are required by the Network for the study, and none stepped up.  This time around Marquette University did.  Why?  Because exploring a Cristo Rey school matches our natural appreciation for Jesuit education and our ever-growing interest in social innovation.

As a Catholic, Jesuit university, Marquette sees a larger calling to be present in the community, particularly on education issues and particularly in Milwaukee where many schools have struggled.  Not surprisingly then, I’m hopeful that through Cristo Rey, Marquette’s College of Education can continue to make meaningful contributions to Milwaukee’s urban education landscape.

In closing, I have to admit to a personal fondness for the Cristo Rey model as an educator.  To my mind, learning about the expectations of the workplace before college will drive how students approach their studies once they matriculate.  But I can’t let those sentiments influence the findings and recommendations of our work.

Still, how can you not love a school where students learn the true value of an education, because they literally have to earn it?

Why We Send Our Daughter to a Catholic School

By Bill Henk –  Today’s post amounts to a celebration of America’s K-12 Catholic schools.  These havens of academic excellence and faith formation have rightly been called a national treasure by none other than former U. S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings.  This designation is no wonder,  because the success of Catholic education contributed mightily to the ascendance of our country.   And what better time to honor this rich tradition than right in the middle of Catholic Schools Week.

Initially established to educate an immigrant population, our Catholic elementary and secondary schools have evolved to touch the lives of children and families across every sector of our nation’s tapestry.  After hitting a high watermark in the 1960’s, however, Catholic schools declined both in their number and in the corpus of children who are served by them.  Happily, in some parts of the country enrollment is increasing again, including the numbers in our own Archdiocese of Milwaukee.  At present some 32000 students attend 14 high schools and 105 grade schools in 10 counties under its dominion.

Numerous reasons exist for sending children to Catholic schools.  Rather than attempt to list all or even most of them.  I’m choosing instead to tell you what drove the personal decision that my wife, Lisa, and I made.  By telling our story, I expect that the major “selling points” from such a list will emerge naturally.

Continue reading ‘Why We Send Our Daughter to a Catholic School’

Securing the Future of Catholic Schools

By Jen Maney, GMCEC Institutional Coordinator — A few years back, a group of like-minded people in Milwaukee with a commitment to K-12 Catholic education got together and began to talk about the ways in which some of our local Catholic colleges and universities might better support these schools.

From those conversations, the GMCEC, or Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium, was born. As a result, Milwaukee is the first archdiocese in the United States to have all of its Catholic universities and colleges within its boundaries mount a collaborative effort to ensure the future of its Catholic schools.

I was brought in about a year later to coordinate some of the efforts that were beginning to take shape under commitment and guidance from Alverno College, Cardinal Stritch, Marian University, Marquette University, and Mount Mary College.

“It will never work,” a friend of mine said as I was discerning whether or not to take this brand new position, never occupied by anyone, anywhere. “’Groups like that always die when new leaders come on board,” said someone else. “You’re crazy if you want to report to five different institutions!” cried a family member.

In spite of my lack of experience in Catholic K-12 education, I decided to jump in and accept the challenge.

Two and a half years later I have had a chance to stand back and appreciate what we have accomplished thus far:

  • The GMCEC has served over 500 teachers and administrators from 80 archdiocesan schools in barely three years.
  • Three of its board members, including me, were invited to Washington D.C. through the Department of Education, to address a group of educators thinking of new and better ways to improve our schools.
  • The GMCEC, in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Office for Schools and the St. Clare Center at Cardinal Stritch University, supports a year-long, cohort-model, faith formation training program for school teachers and leaders wishing to grow their faith and understanding their ministry to “teach as Jesus did.”
  • In December, 2010, Marquette University hosted a roundtable discussion among 40 Catholic school leaders struggling with their school’s Catholic identity in the 21st century.
  • In August, the GMCEC and Office for Schools provided ongoing training to over 245 teachers looking to improve their classroom practice as we establish a new school culture of welcoming students of all learning levels.
  • The GMCEC has developed and conducted grant writing workshops to help schools seek both local and federal funding.
  • The GMCEC collaborated with the national Department of Education to provide a two-day workshop on how Catholic schools can work more effectively and efficiently to obtain federal funds for special needs and low-income students.
  • Alverno College developed and offered a Basic Spanish class for 12 Catholic school teachers working in our schools serving English language learners.
  • Alverno also developed and conducted a 6-week mini-course for teachers on serving our Latino population more effectively and more justly.
  • The GMCEC is involved in utilizing master’s degree students in counseling from Mount Mary College to go into Racine elementary schools and provide counseling services to its students.
  • Marian University hosted 166 teachers at the “21st Century Approach to Teaching and Learning” conference in August to assist our Catholic school teachers meet the challenges of a growing electronic age.
  • Marquette University’s service learning department connected 13 Catholic schools with undergraduate courses and their students with its mission to do work within the community.
  • All five participating GMCEC institutions offer tuition discounts for its Catholic school teachers and leaders.

This is just some of the work we have done thus far. As we look to the future, the GMCEC is taking the lead in measuring the academic effectiveness of our schools, something that has never been done in the Milwaukee Archdiocese. In addition, we are coordinating an effort to help our urban schools who participate in the school choice initiative by conducting customized professional development for their populations.

The GMCEC will also be welcoming universities from across the country in October of 2012, including Boston College, Fordham University, University of Notre Dame, Loyola Marymount, and Catholic University, among others, as it hosts a national summit on school governance.

The question this collection of institutions has asked in the past is “how can our Catholic colleges and universities better serve our Catholic elementary and high schools?”

The thing is…here in Milwaukee? We already are.

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