Catholic School Leaders Discuss Planning to Avert Crisis

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Steve Virgadamo, Associate Superintendent for Leadership at the Archdiocese of New York

Steve Virgadamo, Associate Superintendent for Leadership at the Archdiocese of New York

Last week, The Center for Catholic for School Leadership and Faith-Based Education hosted their first in a series of three Entrepreneurial Leadership Seminars focused on Leading Through Crisis. Catholic school leaders from New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut met at the Lincoln Center campus for a discussion on Planning to Avert Crisis.

According to Jerry Cattaro, Ed.D., Professor and Executive Director of the Center, the topic was chosen based on conversations with local superintendents and associate superintendents who expressed interest in learning more about crisis intervention and management in schools.

Christa Chodkowski, a first year principal at Our Lady of Mount Carmel school in Meriden, Connecticut hoped to learn strategies that she could bring back to her teachers and staff to serve her students more safely.

The seminar was led by Steve Virgadamo, Associate Superintendent for Leadership at the Archdiocese of New York, who opened the morning session talking about how religious schools’ strategic plans and missions should guide their crisis management planning. In times of crisis, a strong mission and strategic plan will provide the lens through which to talk about crisis, to guide and justify decisions and actions.

He stressed the importance of strong relationships between and among leadership, school personnel, students, families, and the community. Mr. Virgadamo likened the process of strategic planning to the Doctrine of the Trinity saying “If God is in a relationship, if he can’t do it alone, what makes us think we can do it alone?” With that idea, he explained how to incorporate different stakeholder groups into the strategic planning process.

Mr. Virgadamo also discussed the importance of a strong school culture, emphasizing that there will be no buy-in for strategy without a strong school culture.

“If you do not have a strong culture, it’s harder [to manage the crisis as it unfolds],” he said. School leaders will need the community work together and rally in times of crisis. Having a strong, clear mission and strategic plan sets the groundwork for a strong school culture and a strong school culture will be crucial for dealing with crisis.

The next two seminars in the series will be held in the spring semester.

  • March 31: The Spirituality of Leading Through Times of Crisis with Fr. Joseph O’Keefe of Boston College
  • May 5: Psychological Implications of Crisis and Trauma with Amelio D’Onofrio, Ph.D. of Fordham GSE

The seminars are by invitation only. Superintendents from the following dioceses and archdioceses may choose up to five principals and/or central office staff to attend:

  • Archdiocese of Newark
  • Archdiocese of New York
  • Archdiocese of Hartford
  • Diocese of Albany
  • Diocese of Bridgeport
  • Diocese of Brooklyn
  • Diocese of Rockville Centre

Learn more about The Center for Catholic School Leadership and Faith-Based Education.

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