Champions of Change: Catholic Education

Uploaded by whitehouse on 25.01.2012

Alexia Kelley: Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the White House.
My name is Alexia Kelley and I'm Deputy Director in the White
House Office for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
And on behalf of our office, I want to welcome you all and
thank you for joining us today.
We're honored to have all of you with us to celebrate these nine
Champions of Change in Catholic Education and we're really
looking forward to today's program.
We have a full schedule in which we'll have the opportunity
to hear from our Champions directly.
I want to offer a special thanks to the National Catholic
Education Association, Karen Ristow and her team for their
help in partnership.
And also Marie Powell with the Secretary of Education at USCCB
for their help on this.
And we want to welcome all of you,
many leaders and champions in Catholic education in schools as
well for joining us here today.
And special welcome to guests from the Archdiocese of
Washington, the Diocese of Arlington,
and the Diocese of Baltimore.
Thank you, so much.
We've been really proud and honored to work with our
colleagues in the Office of Public Engagement.
This is their program.
And with that I'd like to turn it over to Erin Hannigan who
will get us started.
Erin Hannigan: Good afternoon, everybody.
Audience Members: Good afternoon.
Erin Hannigan: That's a good response.
As Alexia said, my name is Erin Hannigan.
I'm here at the White House in the Office of Public Engagement.
And I work on the Champions of Change Program.
And we're really excited to have you all here today to
honor these important leaders.
On a personal note I'm really excited to be here to honor
these Champions.
I come from a family of Catholic educators and attended a Catholic
university as well, so I'm really excited to hear their
stories and learn about the work that they do in
their communities.
I also want to encourage everyone here today and viewing
online to check out more about our Champions by going to
Again that's
Now, before we begin our discussion with our Champions,
we have a few more speakers.
The first up is my boss, Jon Carson.
He's -- Jon is a Deputy Assistant to the President
and Director of the Office of Public Engagement.
Jon Carson: Good afternoon, everyone.
Audience Members: Good afternoon.
Jon Carson: Welcome to the White House.
I will be very brief.
I just have two things.
I'd first like to tell you a little bit about the Champions
of Change Program.
And then I have an "ask" for everyone watching online here,
the audience, and of our Champions as well.
You know, in the United States, and you heard the President talk
about this a little bit last night at the State of the Union,
there's a lot of issues that are being debated.
There's a lot of things being talked about,
but one thing this President and this Administration understands,
is that whatever is going on here in Washington,
every day across this country there are millions of people,
just like our Champions here today,
who are making their communities stronger,
who are lifting people up, who are acting as examples and
making positive change happen in their own communities.
And that's what we want to celebrate with
Champions of Change.
We've had different themes that we've celebrated.
We had people who are working in their communities to prevent
domestic violence.
We had one of the funner ones, we had a group of chefs who
partnered with a local school district to implement the ideas
of "Let's Move!"
at that's school district.
And, however, very, very few of the themes we celebrate I think
are as important as the group of Champions who we have here today
who as you hear their stories, and I've read them all,
are so concretely and directly making peoples lives better,
serving as examples, and making their communities
a better place.
So with that, here is my ask: Please help tell their stories.
Please help tell your stories.
If you're watching online, if you're here in the audience,
and to our Champions, we've often noticed people who are
making change like you are in your communities are often quite
humble, reticent to tell others about sometimes not just the
accomplishments, but how tough it has been.
But what we have seen with this program,
what I think we all know, is that when you do tell
your story, when you do show that it can be done,
that you can be part of making your community better,
you inspire others to do the same thing.
So that's our ask, whether you blog about it, tweet about it,
write about it, tell someone in the church parking lot on
Sunday, please help share your own story and share the stories
of our Champions of Change who are here today.
With that, I would like to introduce someone who has been a
partner of ours at the Office of Public Engagement who I know is
well known to many of you, the Director of the Office
of Faith-based Initiatives and Community Partnerships,
Joshua DuBois.
Joshua DuBois: Well, good afternoon, everyone.
Audience Members: Good afternoon.
Joshua DuBois: Oh, come on, good afternoon!
Audience Members: Good afternoon!
Joshua DuBois: This is an exciting time to be honoring
Champions of Change for Catholic Education.
We are so delighted to have you all here.
We've been looking forward to this day for a long time.
And just really an honor to be on the stage with folks who are
impacting kids and indeed entire communities all
across our country.
On behalf of the President I want to thank you as well.
He obviously had a little bit of a speech last night and so
now is traveling around talking about that speech
around the country.
But he did ask me to do something when I told him
about today's event.
I've been working for the President for a number of years
now so when he asks you to do something, you have to do it,
so just bear with me, please, sorry.
If everyone could raise your hands like this, please.
In the back there, too, please.
Could you move them like this, please?
I promised President Obama I would shake everyone's hand at
today's Champions of Change event.
I'm sorry, guys, but I did my job.
Listen, we are really thrilled to be here with you to honor
nine Champions of Change in Catholic Education.
And I'm honored to introduce these Champions
in just a moment.
And then we're going to hear directly from them
in our panel conversations.
So I run the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood
Partnerships in our 13 partnership centers
across government.
And our job is to come alongside and support local faith-based
and nonprofit organizations who are serving people in need.
We do that on hunger issues, on veterans issues,
on foreign aid and development.
And there's no more important point and area of service than
around education, of course.
And that's why we're so honored to have these Champions here
with us today to talk about how they're improving the
educational futures of our young people.
You know, in fact, Catholic schools are the largest
faith-based schooling group in the country.
Along with other private schools,
Catholic schools have been recognized as national treasures
by our Department of Education and not only important to the
people who use them, but important to the common good
of the nation as a whole.
Catholic schools step up to the plate on behalf of --
Amen to that.
You know, Catholic schools step up to the plate on behalf
of all children, Catholic and nonCatholic school
children alike.
One of my favorite stories is that in the days and months
following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita,
Catholic schools responded quickly and compassionately
to all victims.
Many Catholic schools voluntarily enrolled large
numbers of students displaced from public and private schools.
Catholic schools were the first schools to reopen in New Orleans
following Hurricane Katrina.
There are 201 Catholic colleges and universities educating the
next generation of leaders and innovators.
A number of these are also providing programs in teacher
education and school leadership for Catholic preK through 12th
grade in our communities in order to sustain the promise
of a high-quality education.
In fact, although there are nine folks here,
we actually have ten Catholic School Champions
being honored today.
Father William Leahy, President of Boston College,
is also one of our Champions but was not
able to join us in person.
You can read about his great work at BC and his creation
of the Roche Center for Catholic Education at
Congrats to the Association of Jesuit
Colleges and Universities.
And their President, Greg Lucey, for the Jesuit College
recognitions today.
Let's give them a round of applause as well.
I also want to emphasize that next week is Catholic
Schools Week! Yay!
You know, from January 29th through February 5th,
Catholic schools around the country will observe this week
and really celebrate the importance of Catholic schools
to our nation as a whole.
And that's why we wanted to have this event today,
and we were planning it intentionally preceding Catholic
School's Week so that we can spread the word about how much
Catholic schools mean to our country.
Now, without further delay, I'd like to introduce you to
the White House Champions of Change for Catholic Education.
First we have Bertha Castaneda from Washington, D.C.
Bertha is a senior at Archbishop Carroll High
School in Washington.
She maintains a 4.0 plus -- I don't know what the plus means
but somehow that's above an A -- GPA in the International
Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
One of the toughest college prep curriculums available worldwide.
She's involved in almost every facet of school life taking
advantage of extracurricular activities as diverse as
lacrosse, stage and crew, and National Honor Society.
Let's give Bertha another round of applause.
Next we have Reverend Charles L. Currie from Washington, D.C.
Father Charles Currie has spent his entire professional life in
higher education as a faculty member, administrator,
president, and most recently he served as President of the
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the AJCU,
serving 28 Jesuit colleges and university institutions.
Father Currie has encouraged a commitment to education for
justice and co-founded the student-led Ignatian Family
Teach-In for Justice, the Ignatian Solidarity Network,
and the Jesuit Commons.
Let's give Father Currie a round of applause.
Our next Champion is Reverend John P. Foley,
S.J., from Chicago, Illinois.
After serving the Jesuit Missions in Peru for 34 years
working primarily in education, Father Foley returned to Chicago
in 1995 to collaborate in establishing the Christo Rey
Jesuit High School.
Father Foley established the Christo Rey Jesuit High School
in 1995 and served as its founding President.
He later became President of the Christo Rey Network which
includes 24 similarly modeled Catholic high schools.
He is presently the Chair Emeritus and Chief Mission
Officer of the Network.
Let's give Father Foley a round of applause.
Our next Champion is Sister Ginny Jones from
New Orleans, Louisiana.
Sister Jones has been a sister of the Holy Family for 42 years.
She has served as a school principal for 27 years at
various Catholic schools and is from the great city
of New Orleans.
Let's give her a round of applause.
Our next Champion is Peter Krebbs from Larchmont, New York.
Peter has been the President of All Hallows High School for the
past nine years.
As President he serves as a CEO of the school and works closely
with the principal and board of directors to maintain the
standards of excellence that have become associated
with All Hallows.
In between his years of service at All Hallows,
Peter worked at the Archdiocese of New York where he created the
Office of Educational Development.
Let's give Peter Krebbs a round of applause.
Our next Champion is Annette Mickey Lentz
from Indianapolis, Indiana.
Annette has served the Archdiocese of Indianapolis
as a teacher, principal and administrator of the Office of
Catholic Education for 50 years.
Since 2009 she has served the Archdiocese
of Annapolis as Chancellor.
She created the Mother Theodore Catholic Academies,
a consortium of schools to strengthen Catholic education
in urban areas.
Let's give Mickey Lentz a round of applause.
Next we have Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz from Tucson, Arizona.
Sister Ruiz has served Catholic education for over 50 years.
She has been Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese
of Tucson, in Arizona, since 1997.
Her tenure has seen the opening of three new high schools and an
elementary school.
And she created an endowment and directed the development of each
school's strategic plan.
Let's give her a round of applause.
Our next champion is Yvonne Schwab from Columbus, Ohio.
Yvonne has been the principal at Saint James the Less Catholic
School for the last eight years.
She received the 2011 National Catholic Education Association
Distinguished Principal Award.
Ms. Schwab helped ask James the Less Catholic School become a
model school, doubling the population, raising test scores,
engaging students in service, and embodying
inclusion and diversity.
Let's give Yvonne Schwab a round of applause.
And last but certainly not least, Joseph Womac
from Seattle, Washington.
As the Executive Director of the Fulcrum Foundation for the past
eight years, Joe Womac has worked tirelessly on behalf
of at-risk students in Catholic schools in jeopardy of closing.
Under his leadership, the Fulcrum Foundation has raised
$60 million which has enabled over 10,000 low income students
to attend Catholic schools in Western Washington.
Let's give Joe Womac a round of applause.
And then finally one big round of applause for all
of our Champions of Change!
And we're going to hear from them in just a moment,
but first it is my honor to introduce Roberto Rodriguez.
Roberto is the President's point person for education policy here
in the White House and has been working closely with the
Catholic school community for a number of years dating back
to his service with Senator Kennedy on this
Senate Education Committee.
Let's welcome Roberto!
Roberto Rodriguez: Thank you. Hi. Well, good afternoon.
It's really an honor and privilege to welcome you
here to the White House.
I wanted to stop by to say hello and to congratulate all of our
Champions today.
On behalf of the White House Domestic Policy Council,
I want to thank all of our Champions and all of the leaders
that are gathered here today across Catholic education.
Those of you who are here in person as well as those of you
who are joining us virtually, we really thank you for your
commitment day in and day out to our families and
to our children.
You heard the President last night in his State of the Union
Address talk about building a strong America and building a
strong economy.
And key to that mission is to build a strong education system
and make sure that each and every one of our young people,
beginning actually from early childhood education,
spanning all the way through elementary and secondary
education and higher education, receive the opportunity and the
support they need to really reach their full potential.
To prepare fully for college and careers.
And most importantly to prepare for civic life and for full
participation in our democracy.
So our Champions today are doing that work, day in and day out,
in classrooms, on campuses across our country.
With over 2 million students attending nearly
7,000 elementary and secondary Catholic schools in America,
our Administration wants to say thank you for your contributions
that you've made and that you'll continue to make to the strength
of our democracy, to the educational landscape,
to the lives of students and children -- students,
children and their families, really, around the country.
We know that this work is not easy work.
It's often done with limited budgets and with resources.
But as evidenced in the testimonials today and through
our Champions, we know that our Catholic education system really
approaches all of these challenges with great innovation
and solutions to meet those financial challenges and to make
sure that our students get what they need to be able to succeed.
You've stepped up to the plate time and time again.
That goes all the way back to following natural disasters like
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita where our Catholic schools
were first responders to families, to students,
to really help them get back on their feet.
We know that our Catholic education system is a lifeline
of support for neighborhoods and families that are struggling
around our country.
And we're honored today to be able to have the opportunity to
say thank you, to recognize your successes and your achievements,
and to welcome you here to the White House.
So it's my pleasure to welcome you.
And we want to thank you all for being here and for all that you
do day in and day out to make a difference for America's
students and families.
Thank you, so much.
Erin Hannigan: Thank you, very much, for our first speakers.
We want to really get into our first panel now so if you will
bear with us for just a second we're going to shuffle some of
our folks off and then we'll get started right away.
I'm pleased to invite Reverend Brenda Gurtin Mitchell who will
be moderating the first panel.
She is the Director of the Office of the Faith-based and
the Community Partnership at the Department of Education.
So with that, I'll let her begin the first panel.
Joshua DuBois: I am going to break in for just one second,
an unscheduled break-in.
Just one note.
One of the key reasons, in fact, the reason we are all
here today, in addition to the President's commitment
to Catholic education, is a wonderful member of our staff
who pulled us all together, I am going to have to head out and
then come back but I want to make sure we acknowledge her
especially because she is not going to be that mobile because
good her broken foot.
But Alexia Kelley is here with us.
She is again the Deputy Director of Faith-based Initiatives.
And worked in the USCCB and then founded Catholics in Alliance
for the Common Good.
And has truly worked to connect this Administration with
Catholics around the country.
So I just want to acknowledge Alexia.
Reverend Mitchell: Well, good afternoon, everybody.
Audience Members: Good afternoon.
Reverend Mitchell: It is always exciting when I have an opportunity
to represent Secretary Duncan and the U.S. Department
of Education as a former elementary school teacher,
it's being able to connect all of these
different lives that I have been blessed to live.
And it's also an honor when we get a chance to just pause from
the every day stuff we all have to deal with and count some of
the blessings that are living among us.
And we sometimes take for granted the things
that people do.
This gives us a chance to just stop and say thank you in a very
special way.
And even as we thank these nine Champions that are being lifted
up, it's also a way that we say thank you to all of you because
we are interrelated in all of the work that we do to make sure
that we're creating a culture of success for our children and
creating an educational system regardless of what the platform
is where every young person has an opportunity to get a
quality education.
And Catholic education, in Secretary Duncan's words,
is a key part of the landscape of education for the United
States of America.
So we come today to say thank you and to say congratulations.
And I get a chance to lead us in to an exciting conversation,
some storytelling.
As people of faith, we know that we learn not so much by reading
the stories, but by hearing the stories and being encouraged by
the work and the journeys that others have taken.
I do want to lift up a couple of the facts around Catholic
education in connection with the Department of Education.
Our Administration has spotlighted organizations
such as Christo Rey Network and the founder is receiving
an award today.
We've also sponsored a number of the Christo Rey interns at
the Department of Education.
One from Don Bosco, Christo Rey High School in Tacoma Park.
We have with us today -- Marie, would you stand?
Marie Anderson is with us today.
As I've had the pleasure of learning more about the Catholic
schools education program through our Office of Nonpublic
Education at the Department of Education,
I've come to recognize that 30% of the total Catholic enrollment
is made up from young people.
People of color from minority communities.
And that extraordinary efforts have been made to reach people
whether they are Catholic by faith or not,
but they need the access to quality education.
And so we celebrate that.
We celebrate your commitment to serving the underserved and
sometimes the unserved and unrecognized in our communities.
For the 2011-2012 school year, the Department of Education
named 49 private schools as Blue Ribbon Schools and recognized
those schools recently at a gathering in Washington, D.C.
Forty-six of the 49 are Catholic schools.
One of the messages that resonated for me in the
President's State of the Union Address last night was the need
to continue to increase the professionalization of our
teachers and the opportunities for teachers to teach.
And we have a Teacher Ambassador Fellow's Program.
And we hope that you will encourage people to sign up and
become a part of that program as we aggressively recruit and work
to retain teachers who are concerned about helping us
to uphold the highest possible standard of
educational excellence.
And so with that, those are my opening remarks,
and now I'm going to turn to our Champions for today.
And we've asked each of them in a storytelling fashion to
respond to some questions.
And if they really are offput by the question that I ask,
they're smart enough that they'll figure out how to
say what they want to say --
-- and leave a message that will make you be glad that
you heard them speak.
They have previously been introduced so I will simply
introduce them by name and title and then direct a question.
So first we're going to hear from Reverend John P. Foley
of Chicago.
He's the Chief Mission Officer and Chair Emeritus
of Christo Rey Network.
And here is your question: Tell us a little bit about what
inspired you to launch Christo Rey in Chicago and what's one of
the most critical lessons that you've learned as you have been
involved in that work?
Reverend Foley: Thank you, very much.
Those are easy questions.
Reverend Mitchell: I know they would be.
Reverend Foley: I love it. I love it.
So first of all, thanks to the White House for the invitation
to be here this afternoon and congratulations to my fellow
Champions of Catholic Education.
What an honor to be in this program with you.
We began, Christo Rey began -- what inspired us?
What inspired us was how much talent was going to waste.
What inspired us was that there is a tremendous need for people
from the center city not getting a chance,
not getting an opportunity to get a legitimate college prep,
what I am going to say legitimate,
I mean something that will really help them in college,
something that will really bring them up to par so that they can
go to college.
So that was the inspiration that got us going.
And the biggest problem is easy, too, because how do you do that,
well, how do you do that in the inner city when you've got to
pay for it!
That and the truth in the whole Christo Rey model is that we
asked a consultant, we hired somebody and said give us some
ideas on how to fund a school where you don't have the
resources to pay for it.
By the way, you have to be needy to come to a Christo Rey School.
We have a cutoff, an economic cutoff that you can't be above
that and come to our school.
So we have a saying if you can afford to pay for it then you
can't come.
So we, our schools, we hired the consultant and he came back,
I'd love to say this was my idea,
but he came back after about a couple of weeks, and he said,
what if every student had a job?
So that was the creation of the Christo Rey model.
Our schools are two things: Our schools are schools;
and they are also temporary employment agencies.
All the young people in our schools are both our students
and our employees.
And they, by working five days a month, they earn,
at full employment they will cover 60 to 70% of the cost of
their private college prep education.
Last year -- we have 24 -- we have 24 schools now.
This thing began in one school, we weren't sure at all it was
going to make it for one school.
But after a couple of years we said,
this is going better than we ever thought!
Let's repeat this throughout the country until today we have 24
and we're going for a few more.
Twenty-four schools throughout the country so we have almost
7,000 students and they are, last year,
in the 6500 students last year, they made $32 million for their
own education.
So we're applauding Marie and we're applauding all of these
young people that go to our schools.
Our schools are, the Christo Rey Schools are 50% Latino,
40% African-American, and the rest in there, too.
So but we're talent being wasted,
but that's what motivated us and that's what made us
want to get going.
The whole idea is to provide access.
Get kids to go to school.
Get kids prepared to go to college.
Last year, last year those who graduated in June of 2011 -- no,
excuse me -- yeah -- and went to college in September of 2011,
84% of our students went into college.
Reverend Mitchell: Amen.
Reverend Foley: And at that same year those who were already
in freshman year passed on to second year in college, 89%.
So there is something about the work program.
We have discovered in the work program something much bigger
than we ever participated.
It's an introduction to the real world and it's a get-up-and-go,
it's self-confidence.
And I think my time is up.
Reverend Mitchell: And we know Father could talk to us about that all day.
Isn't this wonderful?
Isn't this wonderful.
Okay, so if I dare do a sound bite,
the takeaway is that you got expert advice and you made
serious investment in education and it's continuing to happen.
So we thank you.
We're going to get back to you with another question I hope.
Next to me is Sister Ginny Jones and she's Sister of
the Holy Family.
She is an educator and she joins us from Louisiana.
New Orleans, Louisiana.
And so the question I have for you is,
as we thank you for being here, you've been in education a
long time!
Sister Jones: Yes, I have.
Reverend Mitchell: A long time.
What keeps you there and what makes you feel that Catholic
education is important?
And what makes a good Catholic school?
Sister Jones: Well, let me start with your last question.
Reverend Mitchell: Okay.
Sister Jones: A good Catholic school believes that all children
can learn.
Academics and excellence are behind us.
We believe in high test scores.
And encouraging children to do their best.
Now, you might say that's just what all schools do.
What makes Catholic education just that bit different is that
Christ is the center of all that we do in education.
We teach our children morals, and we share our values with
them in encouraging them to do the best that they can and to
use the talents that God created them to use.
Catholic education did play an important role in New Orleans
after Katrina 2005 because with all of the surprise and not
knowing where we were, we knew that it was important to be a
light and a beacon to our students and our parents in the
Archdiocese of New Orleans.
It was a tremendous privilege for me to join our Archbishop
and our Archdiocese to come back and help rebuild our
Catholic schools.
I'm Principal at St. Mary's Academy,
which is owned by the Sisters of the Holy Family,
and is a hundred and 45 years old.
Reverend Mitchell: Wow!
Sister Jones: Prior to Katrina, we were an all girls Catholic high school,
college preparatory, grades 6 through 12.
After Katrina, not only did we know that we had to come back
because our children are poor and powerless and we knew that
we had to come back for them, we knew that we had to rebuild our
school on the same property that was slated to be green space
because it was in a flood area.
And we knew that it was important for these girls
that we would be back as a beacon of hope.
The good news is that we were able to come back and with the
support of our Archdiocese and that of the Sisters of the Holy
Family, not only have we rebuilt our high school,
6th through 12th for all girls, we also took in ages 3 through
5th grade and we let that continue to be coed because
there were so few schools for them to go to at the time.
So while we enjoy and praise God for our beautiful new facility,
we are now looking forward to rebuilding another facility for
our elementary children.
Reverend Mitchell: Well, it sounds like she's going to be busy for a long
time still, don't you think?
So I think that you said something simple yet profound
when you reminded us that all of us should think that and believe
that every child can learn by creating an environment that is
based on a system of values and a system of concern for every
child enhances the opportunity for each of those children to
find success.
And so we thank you for your personal commitment to it.
And can't you just feel it even when she talks?
Doesn't she just exude that kind of outlook that's hopeful and
would make a child want to make her happy that they were doing
a good job.
Why don't you give her another hand.
I had teachers like that, you know,
and I just wanted my teacher to think that I was doing what he
or she wanted me to do.
That was important to me.
So our teachers are important role models in our community.
And our faith leaders are important role models.
And sometimes we underestimate how much it means for us to just
look at a child and say, honey, I know you can do it.
Just keep on pushing.
And I feel like this is a table of people who represent that
kind of energy.
And I'm really happy that we have an intergenerational
conversation going on up here today as I introduce
you to Bertha.
Bertha Castaneda is a senior at Archbishop Carroll High School.
I think it must be some Archbishop people back there;
I see a whole lot of hands going up in the air.
And Archbishop Carroll is right here in the nation's capital.
And so we're going to ask her to be a marketer today.
If she were trying to recruit for Archbishop Carroll High
School, what would be the message for why we should choose
your school over another?
We're your audience now.
We're ready to go to high school.
We're pickin'.
Make us want to go!
Bertha Castaneda: Well, my name is Bertha Castaneda.
And first off I want to say it's a pleasure to be here
in front of everyone.
And the reason I would choose Carroll beside any other high
school is because Carroll has challenged me as a person and
made me the person I am today.
Because if I went to any other school I wouldn't have faced
some things that I faced in Carroll.
Like in Carroll the people, teachers, students,
everyone who works there is really welcoming and opening.
So whenever I need something, need help with schoolwork or
with anything else, I know there is someone I can go to.
And if I ever fell down or something,
there is also support from my friends.
I'm sorry, I'm a little nervous.
Reverend Mitchell: You're doing fine.
Bertha Castaneda: Well, Carroll also has an IB program
which challenges students to excel in their academics.
And if I, beginning -- let me start from the beginning -- at
first I didn't want to go to Carroll because it was not my
first choice but I'm happy I sticked with it because if I
went to any other school I wouldn't have gotten the same
experience because I challenged myself academically, socially,
and mentally by involving myself with a lot of things.
At my school I am very involved.
I'm a paraminister, an Augustinian Scholar,
I play volleyball.
I played basketball last year.
And I am the manager for this year.
I'm the manager for lacrosse.
I'm also stage crew.
And the list keeps going on and on.
But in Carroll, they had made me feel open to being involved.
Like no one has ever said, oh, why, Bertha,
why are you so involved, like, take a break.
Like everyone encouraged me to do better so that's the reason I
would choose to go to Carroll.
Thank you.
Reverend Mitchell: Now, I know we have some online folk out there from Carroll,
who are going to figure out how to cut that out and post it on
Carroll's website and send it to parents who are looking for
a place for their young people to go.
And although you give the school a lot of credit, Bertha,
we give you a lot of credit for having the personal initiative
and drive to take advantage of opportunities that have been
presented to you.
And we encourage you to keep doing that and be an excellent
role model for other young people across our nation.
Let's thank Bertha again.
Well, Annette Mickey Lentz is Chancellor of the Archdiocese
of Indianapolis.
And I didn't get a chance to tell her this:
I'm from Indianapolis.
Annette Lentz: Are you? Oh!
Reverend Mitchell: All of my family is still in Indianapolis.
So just because she is from Indianapolis,
I know she is going to have some good stuff to share with us.
But we want you to tell us about the Mother Theodore Catholic
Academies and the kind of innovation that's going on
in those schools.
Such a pleasure to meet you.
Annette Lentz: Again, it's a pleasure to be here.
I'm humbled. I'm honored.
And love being next to youth as well.
Fifty years later it kind of reminds me of long times ago.
And Father Foley with regard to the Christo Rey School,
obviously, I heard his pitch and we have a school.
So I guess before I focus just on the academies,
I would just say that I'm sort of this type of person over time
in education that when I would teach and especially as a
principal, I was the person who went to all of the seminars,
got ideas, never really had maybe my own,
and then came back and decided we're going to do this.
And I know when that happened my teachers would always say where
is she going again, now what are we going to have to do?
I'm sure you can all identify with that.
But one of those times was with regard to just looking
at consortiums and how can we do business better
in urban education.
How can we really become more effective?
How can we become efficient?
How can we work together so that our children and our families
that we serve in the center of the city in the urban area are
not forgotten, are learning, are treated equally,
and are allowed to stay in our schools until they finish and
graduate from high school.
That was a challenge.
And just like all of you, I am sure here at the table and
beyond, we know funding is difficult and yet we can't
always just be about the business of things.
We have to look at what is best for the kids and find a way to
make it work.
So I heard just in general new models, consortiums,
nothing was really carved in stone.
Came back and really got the challenge in front of our
archdiocese, which is a wonderful Catholic community
who wants to serve and said let's try to do something
different for our families.
We did. We moved forward.
It wasn't simple.
It still is not simple.
But it was a wonderful opportunity to allow our schools
to remain anchors in their neighborhood.
We took six of our center city schools,
we put them together in a consortium.
Individual school buildings, but shared leadership,
shared resources, shared whatever we could do.
Shared maintenance, transportation and the like.
Everything that would help them move forward so that we could
hold on to them.
And then we as an archdiocese managed them.
They are diocian schools.
And so we have grown, this is five, six years ago,
it's still a work in progress.
We still continue to be challenged by the demographics.
We just were able to get vouchers in the
state of Indiana.
This past year we had tax credits before that.
I believe that is just going to really open wonderful things for
these children and these families.
It has already shown in his past year in the archdiocese since
July's inception of the voucher program,
2,000 additional children in our schools,
many of those in center city.
So we have embraced the challenge.
We have great support, as I said, by the business community.
Our clergy.
Our team in the Catholic Center that focuses on our education.
You know, you cannot do it alone.
And these families appreciate everything you do for them every
minute in which you do them.
And there are no regrets.
So one of the things that I am most proud even though as I said
it's still getting there, and will we ever arrive?
Yes, we will.
I do not know.
But in my 55th year, maybe.
I don't know.
But it has certainly been good for our people.
Reverend Mitchell: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
So she said to us that we have to embrace the challenges,
be willing to change, and then share the responsibility,
have the consortium, have people working together because all of
us working together can always do more than when we're trying
to hang out there by ourselves.
So we thank you for sharing your experience and we pray that God
will continue to give you strength to be the leader that
you've been in Indianapolis.
Annette Lentz: Thank you.
Reverend Mitchell: Thank you.
Now we have Peter Krebbs who is the President of All Hallows
High School in Bronx, New York.
And we're seeing your name on one side and we're seeing All
Hallows on one side and then underneath that we're seeing
the word "innovation."
What kind of key innovations have you implemented to help
embody the work of education and create some stability in
the education community for the Bronx, New York?
Peter Krebbs: Again, thank you.
Reverend Mitchell: Cutting edge.
Peter Krebbs: Well, I don't know cutting edge.
And thanks also to the NCEA, Dr. Karen Ristow and Robert
Bimonte for nominating me for this.
So it really is good to be here and to tell the story.
How much they're innovations I will leave up to other
people to decide.
All Hallows High School was founded in 1909 so we are around
a while, but we were founded in four brownstones in Harlem.
Unfortunately we don't own any of those brownstones any more.
So it's still a struggle.
But we moved in 1920 -- they moved,
I wasn't there then --
-- in 1929 they found what was described as a beautiful piece
of property up in the country and that's where we are now.
It's also known as the South Bronx.
Where we are is the 16th Congressional District
and that's the poorest Congressional District in
the entire United States.
The average, the average family income in our district
is 19,311.
We charge 5700 in tuition.
And if I were to get a hundred percent of that
I would be fairly okay.
But we don't get that.
Seventy-eight percent of our families need help
with the tuition.
And that's mainly from alumni.
What we have provided them, and again whether it's innovation or
not, is structure and a stability that in many
situations in our area is not known.
For instance, I'm there, well, a total now of 18 years
at All Hallows.
The principal is there a total of, well, 16 years as principal,
but really he started school there as a freshman in 1969.
So we're not going to count how long ago that was.
And we also have 14 of our faculty members are former
students at the school.
So we provide a solid structure that in our environment is
really important.
And we start every day by welcoming every kid as he comes
to the school with a handshake, a greeting, you know,
good morning, welcome to school, how are you.
And we do the same thing in the afternoon.
That provides us not only a welcoming atmosphere and it is
a welcoming atmosphere and you can feel it when you come into
the building, but it provides us with knowledge of what's going
on with every student.
And that leads to what we do and we do a lot
with counseling and guidance.
We have a group counseling session.
We knew he had to do this because there's a lot of
problems in the inner city and how our kids cope with those
problems both at home and in the streets that had to be taken
care of so that they were going to learn.
And we do that.
And we not only expect them to learn,
we don't -- we'll tell them that there's four letter words that
are never allowed in our school and that's like fail,
won't, can't.
And we expect them all to do their work.
We'll work with them.
So that we regularly -- an off year for us would be to have
only 98% go to college.
This year is our hundredth graduating class,
and we've challenged them, and they're a great class,
we expect them to have a hundred percent go to college.
And good colleges.
We have, in fact, we want the college kids to come back and
talk to the current students about what they do and how they
should prepare.
So last year we had nine of our kids who were studying
at Columbia.
They came back and they spoke to the current seniors.
A big part of, and I don't know, it's certainly not innovative,
but it's an important part in Catholic education,
is the spirituality.
We leave no doubt that we are a Catholic school.
The school was founded by, at that time, remember,
1909 in Harlem, but it was the Irish Christian Brothers.
Now they're just Christian Brothers.
But we do follow the spirit of Brother Edmond Rice.
I think you would find every kid in our school would know
who he is.
And what the spirituality of Christian Brothers School is
supposed to be about.
To make all of this work and again whether it's innovation
or not, is the alumni involvement in the school.
We could not do it financially without that.
As I said, tuition is 5700.
That is out of a cost, we're managing to get
costs down to maybe 7200.
And that difference is primarily to alumni who we use the phrase
with them you come to the school first and you learn and then you
go out and earn and then you return.
Yourself and what you've earned.
Reverend Mitchell: All right.
Those are my buzz words from his presentation:
Learn, earn and return!
Can we go for that?
And I think also when you talk about whether or not it's
innovation, it is basic.
And sometimes we forget the basic.
The little things that matter to set the tone for the day.
To make everybody feel welcome.
To know that people are being heard.
That we're just not numbers.
That they're human beings that are in our hands and
in our charge.
And I think if we just think about our personal experience,
the context that when people can look us in the eye and they can
talk to us and they are willing to touch us,
it does help encourage our young people to reach for
higher heights.
We have about four minutes left.
And so what I want to do is just put out one
little quick question.
and I am just going to give each of you a chance to give a ten
second -- 25 second response.
If this was the only thing that you could say to this audience
today that would make them willing to be even more engaged
in educational success for our children,
what would be your last word?
This is a session about good news.
We hear all the bad stuff all the time.
Today we want to hear some good news.
What can we do to help?
Father Foley: I love it. Dream. Innovate.
Don't be afraid to take a chance.
The hero of our story is the man who told us to go ahead and
start the school even though we had never -- we didn't know if
it was going to work or not.
He was going to look pretty silly if it didn't work.
Nobody knew me so I would get away with it.
Reverend Mitchell: Dream. Okay, Sister Ginny.
Sister Ginny: Well, I would say when you pass on your values,
your morals, and your love of God to children,
you've given them the tools that they need to be strong citizens
and useful to society.
Reverend Mitchell: Okay. Mickey?
Annette Lentz: Ah! I would certainly say create, have faith,
not only in yourself but those with whom you lead,
your youth and realize that they are hope for the world,
the church ahead.
Reverend Mitchell: All right. Bertha.
Bertha Castaneda: I would say encouragement.
Never -- Like always encourage the people,
the youth in our community because they need your support.
That's how I am in this spot right now because I had a lot
of encouragement.
Peter Krebbs: Be proactive. Be an agent for change.
We're up here as Champions of Change.
But it's very important, become involved,
be an agent for change.
Make things happen.
Become involved.
And so I do, with alumni all the time and our alumni are
certainly the demographics and ethnicity has changed over the
years, but once they all get together and become involved
with each other, they're all, in our case, All Hallows people,
and they'll all make it better.
Reverend Mitchell: Amen. Amen.
And a closing thought I'd like to leave with you.
I'm not sure who quoted it in the beginning but I've been
quoting it or misquoting it for years that life is like a tiny
minute, only 60 seconds in it, forced upon you, didn't seek it,
didn't choose it, but it's up to you to use it.
Give account if you abuse it.
It's just a tiny little minute.
But eternity is in it.
What will you do with the minute you have to help be the change
you want to see.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with you this afternoon.
Erin Hannigan: Another thank you to the first panel and to Brenda
while we get repositioned here for the second panel.
Now, we're excited to begin our second panel in just a second.
I am going to reintroduce Alexia Kelley here who is going to be
leading the second panel.
Alexia is a Senior Policy Adviser in the White House
Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
So Alexia will lead the second panel and we're looking forward
to a great discussion.
Alexia Kelley: Okay, we're getting setup here.
Hi, again, everybody.
I am really pleased to introduce our second panel of Champions
for Change in Catholic Education.
We look forward to hearing their reflections on the innovation
and creativity that they have brought,
the many contributions they have made to Catholic education and
Catholic schools.
So I'll, just like Brenda, I will introduce them.
You have already heard about their great work.
I will introduce each of them and ask the question,
ask a question, and then we hope to have time for
one extra question.
So starting with Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz,
she's the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for
the Diocese of Tucson in Arizona.
So Sister Ruiz, of all the many creative innovations and best
practices that you have implemented over your career,
what do you think has been the most important factor in
addressing the unique challenges and opportunities facing the
Catholic schools in Tucson and what is the
secret of your success?
Sister Rosa Marie: Well, I'll say children.
You know, if we adults are in the job that we have,
it's because of children.
And we better do a good job taking care of them.
So that's when I can see that if adults need more preparation,
professional development, especially in religious
education, because we have Catholic schools,
and remember I am coming from Arizona,
no Catholic colleges so we have to work harder to make sure that
our teachers are prepared to teach and take care of
our children.
And every time I see the needs of children in any way,
then I know that there is a need for staff development somewhere.
And I want to share something else here.
It's not part of the question, but I want to tell you that we
do have a Christo Rey School in Tucson that has made a
difference on the south side of Tucson which is
about 90% Hispanic.
And about 85% of them are in the free and reduced lunch program.
And now we're very proud that some,
this year for the first year, some of them will
be finishing college.
That's San Miguel, Christo Rey High School and run by
the Christian Brothers, Lasallian Christian Brothers,
so we're very proud of them.
And now that I have a chance to talk I want to share with you
our partnership with Notre Dame.
Besides the ACE teachers, the literacy program, curriculum and
lots of help that we get from them,
we have the first -- we have a pilot study,
it's a Notre Dame ACE Academies.
And they are taking care of three of our needy schools on
the south side of Tucson.
And you should see, this is the second year and it's really is
making a difference.
Those children are so proud to come to school and we have the
families and the teachers and everybody that is proud,
they are so proud to be members of the ACE Academies,
and they are really, we are gettings to children ready
to attend the Christo Rey School and to do a good job
in the future.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you, so much.
Let's give Sister Ruiz a hand.
And now Reverend Charles Currie, S.J., is the past President of
the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities.
Father Currie, tell us a little bit about the Jesuit Commons,
a new initiative you have recently launched and how it
relates to Jesuit universities and colleges and how are you
inspired to start this effort?
Reverend Charles Currie: Thank you, Alexia.
It's a real pleasure and privilege to be here and to be
with this great group and I want to acknowledge the folks who
helped me do whatever I was able to do at the AJCU.
They are all sitting up here in the front row.
Very much aware of whatever I was able
to do it's because of them.
The Jesuit Commons is a good example of a point that Mickey
was making about collaboration.
It's an extraordinary collaborative effort and
I have just been trying to make sure it happens.
There are so many people involved.
The idea came initially about five years ago at a meeting in
Denver when a Jesuit from Australia was describing
what he was doing with refugees in a refugee camp in Thailand.
Burmese refugees in a refugee camp in Thailand.
And immediately this group of about two or 300 people had a
real serendipitous moment, that this is an extraordinary
opportunity to take this idea and run with it.
The idea of a commons, to emphasize the fact that it's
not an effort to help somebody but to do something together
with folks.
And what it involves is an attempt to relate all of the
educational resources Jesuits have around the world with the
marginalized populations Jesuits serve around the world.
And the most concrete expression of you that right now are two
refugee camps, one in Malawi, one in Kenya where we're doing
this with the Jesuit Refugee Service.
They have an extraordinary educational effort around the
world in primary and secondary education,
this is the first time they have been able to
do higher education.
This meant building a building, bringing in electricity,
bringing in the Internet, getting 40 computers.
And today there are 80 refugees taking online courses from about
a dozen AJCU schools here in the United States.
And an extraordinary experience.
I was over at this camp in Kenya just a couple of months ago,
80 refugees, extraordinary conditions of deprivation
and yet they come to class every day.
Some of them walk two hours to get there.
One fellow paralyzed from the waist down comes in a
combination wheelchair, bicycle, a mile each morning.
He has little pads on the back of his wheels,
one has Jesuit Commons, the other has no pain/no gain.
So it's an extraordinary experience of collaboration,
worldwide collaboration.
We are looking now to expand that in another five or six
refugee camps and the experience of the volunteer faculty doing
this has been extraordinary.
The relationship they develop with the refugees.
And so it's been a great experience just to see
this idea develop.
And as Mickey said it's all because of collaboration.
Alexia Kelley: Thanks so much, Father Currie.
Let's give Father Currie a round of applause.
And now Yvonne Schwab who is the principal of St. James the Less
Catholic school in Columbus, Ohio.
Mrs. Schwab, you helped St. James the Less Catholic
School become a model school.
Doubling the population.
Raising test scores.
Engaging students in service.
And embodying inclusion and diversity.
What are you most passionate about communicating to others
about this model and about your experience?
Mrs. Schwab: Well, first I'd like to say that I'm very honored to be here and
I'd like to thank the NCEA for nominating me.
But if I talk about what I'm most passionate about,
like Sister, I'd have to say it's the children.
It's from the children that we get our strength and that we get
our drive and our desire to make things better for them.
I'm also blessed with the most supportive staff that anyone
could ever ask for so when I come up with some crazy idea
they don't go, no way.
They say we'll try it, whatever it, we'll try it.
To talk about our children, they come from all over, Vietnam,
Cambodia, China, Russia, Nigeria, Mexico,
El Salvadore and all over the United States.
They have all different face, different income levels,
differences family structures.
We're like a window to the world.
I guess we're our own little United Nations there, you know?
But that gift of diversity allows us to relate to all of
our children as in the way that Christ would want.
We believe that we are a second home to our children.
Whatever they need we figure out a way to get it.
I had one 8th grader say to me before he graduated,
it might sound weird for me to say this, Mrs. Schwab,
but I really love to come to school,
because when I come here, there's no chaos.
I know you'll be here.
I know the teachers will be here.
I'll have class.
I'll get lunch.
And if I need something, somebody is going to help
me do it.
That's the kind of hope that we hope to give to everyone.
That's what Catholic schools do.
That's what our faith calls us to do.
Our population is 50% ESL.
80% are below poverty level.
And yet for the last two years we've met average yearly
progress in every subject, in every grade level.
Thank you.
When I call to the downtown office they're like, okay,
what are you going to do now?
Because we don't do anything the normal way.
Our homerooms are community homerooms so our 6th,
7th and 8th graders are all in homeroom together.
And that way they can mentor each other.
The 6th graders can go to the older students for help and they
all learn to be with each other and be part of a family.
We have Saint Families at our school.
Each one is named after a saint.
And there are members of each grade level in
that saint family.
And we meet with them every month.
We go to mass together.
We do activities together.
So the kids all get to know each other.
We had trouble with our children doing their homework.
Some because they weren't able to do it.
Some, you know, no English is spoken at home so they weren't
getting any help.
So we started something called hassle-free homework every
morning for the first half an hour of school.
You have to have tried your homework, though.
You can't just say, so, when they come to school if they
don't understand their homework we're there to give them help.
We offer, if they need coats, hats, food, rides home,
we figure all of it out for them.
That's what it means to be a family.
All of our students take Spanish so most of our Spanish speakers
help the English speakers learn and our English speakers help
the Spanish speakers in English class.
And they all take American Sign Language so we're a
trilingual school.
I am very proud of that.
We have instituted authentic service learning.
This is really a program that I'm very proud of because it
comes from the children.
They study, they study issues and they find actions that they
can take to help with those issues.
For example, when the tsunami hit,
they studied all about the tsunami and what happened.
And they did fund-raising and different activities.
We taught the school about what the tsunami was and its effects.
We raised enough money to help a fishing village get a new boat
so they could restart their village.
We also helped with the Rafique project in Africa.
We helped to furnish a dorm for children whose parents died of
AIDS-related illness.
Then when the economy took a little turn, our children said,
well, you know, it's great to be helping everybody,
but we have children really close to home that need help.
And realize that our children aren't rich but they really
know how to help other people.
So when they saw the economy they said,
we need to help closer to home.
So we partnered up with a group called the "Run the Race" which
provides an aftercare program for children on the west side
of town who don't have anywhere to go.
We also helped a group called "A Kid Again" which helps
terminally-ill children.
So that way our children learn how to be global citizens as
well as helping close to home and what they can do
to help other people.
I could tell you stories all day about the kids but I know I am
probably going to run out of time so I just have to
get two in.
You know, with Martin Luther King Day last week and we all
know Martin Luther King's speech "I Have a Dream,"
well, Martin Luther had a dream but so does Martin Salsado.
And Martin Salsado's dream is to go to school,
to be able to go to college, and not have to fear or worry about
what's going to happen to his children.
To his parents, I'm sorry, to his parents.
They don't need to live in fear every day.
And my last story is about Kenny and it's my favorite and I'll
try to do this without tearing up,
but Kenny came to us in 7th grade, way below grade level.
He had the misfortune of seeing his father lost to violence
right in front of him.
He worked and he worked and then he went to high school.
In his sophomore year of high school he ran all the way across
the football field to hug me to say I passed all parts of the
Ohio graduation test, I can think about college.
And I'm proud to say that Kenny entered college in
the fall of this year.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you, so much, Yvonne, for sharing that.
And now Joseph Womac, who is the Executive Director of the
Fulcrum Foundation in Seattle, Washington.
Welcome, and thank you for making the long trip.
Joseph Womac: Thank you.
Alexia Kelley: So our question for you, Joe, is what do you find
most critical and also most satisfying in your work at
the Fulcrum Foundation and how has your experience with ACE,
the Alliance for Catholic Education at Notre Dame,
influenced your work today?
Joe Womac: Good questions.
First, I want to also say thank you to the White House for
shining a light on the excellence of Catholic schools
and the important role that they play in society.
I also secondly want to thank whoever organized the event by
giving me a chance at the last word --
-- although Father Currie has promised me he has been working
very hard on his rebuttal to whatever I have to say.
So I'll save some time for that.
The Fulcrum Foundation for which I've had the privilege
as serving as the Executive Director for the last eight
years is an amazing organization.
It's hard to boil down into just a couple of things what is most
critical and most satisfying about the work that we're doing.
But I think that it could be summed up by the first eight
Champions that we have heard from today because they're
working with kids, many of them are,
or they are themselves inspiring stories in education.
I, in my job, have the privilege of championing people that work
in Catholic education but I'm not directly working
with kids myself.
But what is most critical?
I think I would say is understanding first that
Catholic schools work with kids.
And it's not in a conversation that we're having about Catholic
education, period.
It's about education.
It's about the lives of children and the difference that good
schools make in those lives.
And the platform that Catholic schools can be to a better life.
And I have seen first hand over and over again thousands of
times in the stories, the lives of the kids that we
send to school at the Fulcrum Foundation,
their lives are very satisfying.
And so that we need to understand that Catholic
schools work.
We could talk a long time about what makes Catholic
schools work.
But I think that we have heard a fair amount about that today.
What I would say, though, is is that the other thing that we
need to critically understand isn't just that they work,
but there are millions of empty desks in Catholic schools all
over this country.
So for me when I ask myself the question what makes a school a
great school?
To me the answer to that question is not what percentage
of the kids got what scores on what tests.
Or what percentage of what kids went to those schools and then
went on to college.
To me what defines a great school is the difference in
the life of the kids that go to that school.
If you take that school away what does that do
to the community?
If you insert the school into the community,
what does that do?
And so to me Catholic schools are some of the best schools
that ever were because we could see over and over again that
when you insert a Catholic school into the life of a
child at risk, the outcomes are phenomenal.
We heard about it.
Ninety-eight, 99% of these kids go on to college.
Kids that come from backgrounds that usually maybe 20, 30,
40% would go on to college.
And so we need to preserve, we need to preserve these
institutions because of the difference they're making.
If they didn't work we wouldn't be having this conversation.
So it's critical that we understand that they work.
And that we need to do something to preserve them.
There are millions of empty desks.
There are families that would fill them.
And what we need to do is we need to leverage new ways of
getting those desks filled because it is not as easy as
it used to be.
And I commend the role that Christo Rey has played in
finding an innovative way to fund schools that serve
at-risk kids.
I think that that's a huge component of this.
My organization, the Fulcrum Foundation,
is a funding organization, so we leverage resources.
We raise money.
And we give it out where it's needed the most.
And it's been very satisfying to do that and it is extremely
satisfying to see the outcomes of those investments.
They're what we do it for.
Really quickly on the ACE Program.
The ACE Program is an amazing teaching in-service program run
by the University of Notre Dame as part
of a consortium of programs.
The University of Portland has one called PACE.
I think there are 13 of them.
I'm a graduate of it.
You give up two years of teaching in a Catholic school
that they send you to.
You live in a community.
And at the end of the process you have two years of teaching
experience in a Catholic school and a masters degree
to show for it.
I also have that program to thank for introducing me to
my beautiful wife.
As well as ruining any plans I had for a corporate career!
So I can't separate it from anything that I do.
(laughter and applause)
Alexia Kelley: Let's give Joe a round of applause.
Thanks so much, Joe.
Both Joe and Sister Ruiz mentioned the ACE Program.
So we're excited that that model, ACE,
and then programs like it, that you lifted that up.
So building on what several of you have mentioned about
engagement of community and also the needs in the community and
the schools for staff development, for resources,
et cetera, what do you think are some ways that we can motivate
all Americans, particularly in underserved communities and
especially in community and faith-based groups to become
more active in education and in their local school?
Yvonne Schwab: Well, I think one of the things we need to
do is get them into our schools more so that they can see what
we're doing.
And on that note I invite any of you to come to Columbus,
Ohio and I would love for you to come see the school!
Alexia Kelley: Thanks. Other thoughts on that question?
Reverend Currie: I think just the experience of seeing both the need for
education and the response of people getting it.
I mean, my experience with the refugees in that camp in Kenya
to see the appreciation of these folks who have literally
nothing, to see how much they appreciate it.
This fellow in a wheelchair paralyzed from the waist down,
his big concern now is how can he pay back for the privilege he
is receiving of an education.
To be exposed to that kind of appreciation and also the need
for the education, I think that really encourages you
to get involved.
Sister Rosa Marie: You know, I think about, of course,
I have been in education for many, many years,
50 years as a Sister, 50 years in education,
I started teaching three days after my profession.
Now, but, you know, when I see the children coming in in
prekinder and they grow up and they give you lots of headaches
and you try to help them and you think you are going to lose them
and you meet with parents and teachers and then you the see
them finish high school and graduating and going
into college.
If people can see that that is worth it.
It is worth it to spend all this time helping them and finding
ways of helping them and see what happens at the end.
Because they will be the future leaders of our church and our
society and we better do a good job.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you.
Joe Womac: I just want to sort of build off that and just
say that I think the real champions are sort of the
millions of anonymous parents and families
and students out there.
What they do through their lives in choosing what's best
for their children, I think it dispels a myth that parents from
certain backgrounds, from certain walks of life,
don't want what's best for their kids.
That they don't value an education.
I think that that's a falsehood.
That in the champions, the true champions out there are
dispelling that every day by fighting for what's best for
their children and making choices that they can make
for their children.
And I think our responsibility is to rise up to that level of
commitment that those families have for their kids by if some
family wants something we need to provide it for them.
If that's best for the kids we need to provide it.
And so to me it's just rising up to the inspiring sacrifices that
parents make for their kids every day.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you, Joe.
So one more question for the whole panel.
What would you say or describe maybe one of the greatest
challenge you faced in your work in Catholic education and how
did you overcome it?
Yvonne Schwab: Well, the first year that we -- we have a
large Spanish-speaking population and I don't speak
Spanish so the first year that we had Spanish-speaking students
coming to our school, of course, the children can speak English
but the parents cannot.
That was a big challenge.
And we were all, like, oh, what are we going to do?
So the whole staff took a program called Command Spanish
where we learned some Spanish phrases.
Now, I don't speak a lot of Spanish, but I
can say, puedo ayudarle.
How can I help you?
Now, when they answer me, I don't know what they're saying
but at least I said it.
So that was one of our big challenges.
Now we have everything in two languages.
You get paper home, English on the front, Spanish on the back.
You know, everything is bilingual at our school.
And that was a big challenge and a big -- I think it also speaks
to the population that we're already at our school that they
were open, welcoming and inviting.
We were an immigrant population of Italians as we started as a
parish and we're headed toward an immigrant population again.
So I think that speaks to not only the students coming in but
the students that were there.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you.
Sister Ruiz: You know, or greatest challenge in the diocese
is to try to build up this Catholic identity
that teachers are great and they want to help,
but their religious education ended up when they received the
sacrament or confirmation.
And, remember, like I said before,
we have no Catholic colleges in Arizona.
So that's our greatest challenge,
to make sure -- and now they are supposed to have level 1
religious certification but we need to start to provide the
classes and we need to help them.
And that's what we are trying to do.
But that's what I, you know, is our greatest challenges.
That's besides money, of course.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you, Sister Ruiz.
Father Currie?
Father Currie: I, when I first became president of a college
it was in a survival mode and we weren't sure we were
going to open day by day.
I think the biggest challenge was to get people to believe,
believe in the place.
And I'm a firm believer myself in anything can work if you
believe enough in it and you are willing to work at it.
And that was I think the biggest challenge to get enough people
to believe in the place and be willing to work.
And it still exists today.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you.
Joe Womac: It would be easy to say that there's not enough money,
but I do think that the money challenges of our Catholic
schools are a symptom of I think more important underlying issues
that represent the larger challenges.
And I think that inspiring stories of some of our Champions
here today, the things that they've done,
to do things in a new way in Catholic education tell
a story of, I think, what the biggest challenges are.
That we know Catholic schools work with kids,
but they don't necessarily work financially in all
neighborhoods any more.
And so we have to find new ways of providing that type of
education that's always worked.
And getting people to excitedly embrace a new idea to kind of
get out of risk aversion, it takes,
it takes a lot of convincing sometimes.
And so I think we need new initiatives and getting people
on board with those new initiatives.
Even though they might not work I think is a huge challenge in
Catholic education.
Alexia Kelley: Thank you, so much.
So let's give our panel a final round of applause.
Congratulations to each of you.
Thank you for your leadership and your service,
your contributions to Catholic education and
your broader communities.
You really embody the fundamental American
value of service.
So thank you for all that you're doing and thank you
for being here.
So we're going to move into some closing remarks.
Okay, thanks, Erin.
We can stay.
So we want to congratulate --
congratulate our Champions today.
We know that all of you participating today and I
certainly have been inspired and encouraged by the amazing work
of the Champions that we're honoring.
On behalf of our office, the Office of Faith-based and
Neighborhood Partnerships and our entire White House team that
worked on this project, we want to thank all of our guests for
participating today, both here in person and virtually.
It means very much, it means a lot to have you all here as
leaders and innovators in Catholic education to chat to
celebrate these Champions among you and among us.
I want to welcome now to the stage Maureen Dowling who is
the Director of the Office of Nonpublic Education in the
Department of Education.
Maureen and her team have been great partners in helping us
work with NCEA and help put this event together.
And she's going to give a little bit of information about her
office at the Department of Education which can really be an
open door and a resource for you and the work that you're doing.
So thank you, Maureen.
Maureen Dowling: Thank you, Alexia.
And greetings to everyone.
And to the Champions of Change, what elegant and life-empowering
contributions you have made not only to Catholic education but
to our nation.
It has been humbling to sit here today and such a privilege to
listen to your stories.
Thank you for sharing them with us today.
As Alexia mentioned, I am the Director of the Office of
Nonpublic Education at the U.S.
Department of Education.
And I am so pleased to be joined here today with my staff,
Amy Huber there who is playing the Champion tech today and
Deborah Southwell and Jerry Kyle,
Brian Martin and Pamela Allen.
It's been a pleasure working with Alexia and Erin to help
facilitate this.
And we so appreciate all of you who got in that security
information by the deadline to the Office
of Nonpublic Education.
We're part of a larger office called the Office of Innovation
and Improvement.
And the Assistant Deputy Secretary of that office
is Jim Shelton.
He's sorry he couldn't be here today to congratulate
the Champions personally.
But he sends his appreciation for your
commitment and your leadership.
Just in a nutshell, the Office of Nonpublic Education is a
liaison office to all the nonpublic schools across
the United States.
Independent schools, faith-based schools and home schools.
I'm sorry to say we don't get any money from Congress so we
have no money to give you directly.
However, as many of you in this audience know there are some
wonderful federal education benefits and services that are
available to your students through programs that are
administered by the department.
And I know some of you here in this audience,
your students and teachers participate in those programs
such as Title I and Title II, a professional development.
So our responsibility as the Liaison Office is to help
maximize the participation of private school students in
federal education programs.
Within the department we advocate on behalf of nonpublic
school students.
We scrutinize every letter that comes across.
Every policy.
Every regulation.
Every piece of guidances to ensure maximum participation
of your students, but also to make sure the autonomy and
independence of private schools is maintained.
In fact, in our work, and you have a wonderful team as I
mentioned earlier that is working on behalf of Catholic
school students and teachers and other private school students
across the U.S., we want to be, as we say in text language,
your FFB.
Which stands for your "favorite federal bureaucrat."
And that's what we seek to be --
-- on your behalf.
I'm so delighted that this precedes National Catholic
Schools Week next week and it's one of the other activities that
we do as the liaison is we correspond and communicate on a
regular basis with the national private school organizations
like the National Catholic Educational Association, NCEA,
that is here represented today.
And a host of other private school organizations and home
school organizations also.
Now I was just thinking I'm a former Catholic school teacher
and principal so to make this a genuine Catholic education
event, there is one last thing I'm going to need
to do here, Alexia.
We always give homework.
So here is the homework for the Champions and also all of us
here in this audience today.
On behalf of the children and the eloquent stories you have
shared with us today, on behalf of the children I'm going to
encourage you and ask you to say this with me.
I'll say it first and then you can join me.
And I hope it will be as worth it said an encouraging
thing for everyone.
It goes like this: Good, better, best.
Never let it rest until your good is better;
and your better is best.
Will you join me?
Everyone: Good, better, best.
Never let it rest until your good is better and
your better is best.
Again, Champions, congratulations!
Thanks for your inspiration today.
Alexia Kelley: Just wrap up?
Thanks so much, Maureen.
As -- what?
Do you want to take a picture?
Okay, we're going to take a picture in just a minute,
but I just wanted to leave with a few more
points about follow-up.
As Maureen mentioned, Catholic Schools Week is next week and
we're really excited about the opportunity for this event to
help shine a light on next week.
So we encourage you to tweet about today,
e-mail your friends about today.
This live stream will be up on the White House YouTube Channel
following this event so you can share that link.
And the photos and the biographies of our wonderful
Champions will be up online, too,
So I encourage you to link to that site and spread the word
about the Champions to inspire and encourage others
in their communities.
And just share the good news of their incredible work.
I also wanted to just share contact information for our
White House Office for Faith-based and Neighborhood
Partnerships and just recognize Jerry Flavin who is with our SBA
Faith-based office, Small Business Administration.
Roxana Barillas who is with our USDA Faith Center.
She works on the reduced priced lunch and summer food programs
all which are available to Catholic schools,
to nonpublic schools.
So she's someone if you're not connected to the Summer Food
Service Program or the School Lunch Program,
Roxana is the person to talk to.
And then Brenda's colleague Ken Bedel is here with the
Education Center.
So we are a network of 13 faith-based and neighborhood
partnership centers at different federal agencies that can really
be an open door.
So if you're working with the community organization in your
faith-based organization in your area or your school is doing
work in hunger, in small business startup and they're
interested in that, these folks are your open door like Maureen
is at the Department of Education and Brenda at these
different federal agencies.
So our website is also very easy.
And I think you all got the toolkit.
The Common Good Partnerships Toolkit Guide.
So that's your kind of resource there.
And I think now I'm very honored to introduce our final speaker
today, we're very pleased to have with us Denis McDonough who
is the Deputy National Security Adviser and
Assistant to the President.
Works very closely with President Obama on National
Security and other issues.
And I know has been very inspired by his experience
in Catholic schools and as a Catholic American.
So thank you, Denis.
Dennis McDonough: Well, Alexia, thanks so very much.
It's a real honor to be with you Champions for Change.
I'm a proud product of the Sisters of St. Joseph at
St. Michaels Catholic Elementary School in Stillwater, Minnesota.
And a proud graduate of St. John's University in
Collegeville where I got to know an awful lot of Benedictine
Brothers and obviously the Sisters from St. Ben's.
And then I spent some time with the Jesuits
as well at Georgetown.
So it depends on the crowd on who I claim -- (laughter)
-- but it also depends on the crowd for who claim me.
So I would just say a couple of things.
I mean, I was just sitting in a meeting in a sit room that ran
long and I was reflecting that my job perhaps as much as any of
the jobs at St. Johns reflects the motto of St. Benedict of
working and praying.
And I'll tell you that I spend as much of my time when I'm
thinking about my job and some of the very difficult things we
go through and some of the very difficult decisions we tee up
for the President praying that they turn out right.
And that's as true last night, for example,
when the Seals carried out this very remarkable but also very
nerve-racking operation in Somalia.
As it is when we wrestle with very difficult policy decisions
about assistance to countries who are struggling like Haiti or
throughout Africa or otherwise.
But it's almost every day if not when John Brennan is giving me
trouble for not having clearer handwriting like he claims he
got from his parochial school upbringing.
Or to frankly some of the very, very difficult decisions we make
around questions like use of force, just wars,
dignity of all individuals.
On that range or that continuum of issues,
I think about Catholic educators who throughout my life frankly
gave me the opportunity that I have to work here today.
I'll just close with one final story as it relates to this
which is two of my brothers who studied in Rome,
and I never got to go visit them in Rome.
My folks had saved up so we could, of the 11 of us,
every one of us would get a chance to go visit them on their
summers somewhere in Europe.
And it did dawn on me a couple of years ago that we got to go,
you know, to fly into the cities that have the cheapest flights.
I always wondered why wouldn't my folks send me to Italy?
And it turns out that those are probably more expensive flights.
Anyway, I did finally get to go to Rome and I got to go there
with President Obama in the summer of 2009.
And I got to ride into St. Peters Square in the
President's limousine while the President and I talked about
what Catholic education had meant to me.
But as importantly for me I got to hear what Catholic education
meant to him.
And by Catholic education, I don't mean when he spent that
couple of school years in Indonesia with the Catholics,
but rather when he worked on the southside of Chicago,
funded by the Campaign for Human Development and working with
unemployed steel workers.
And so I hope when you all leave here today you're not only
reminded of how much we admire the work you do and you not only
feel proud of the fact that the President of the United States
and understanding that there is going to be times,
perhaps even like today, or like last Friday,
when you disagree with a decision that he or his
Administration made, but I hope you feel proud of knowing that
he was informed.
And I can assure you is continually informed and
continuing to be informed by his Catholic education.
But I hope that you'll be reminded as well that there's
a lot of people like me out there who think of you,
I think of Sister Elaine and I think of Sister Shirley,
Sister Mary Marg, and a lot of the monks at St. Johns who
frankly made it possible for me to be here today,
make it possible for me to walk into the White House
and work every day.
And ultimately I hope make it possible for me to make a
well-rounded, well-informed, and ultimately just and dignified
decision or set of recommendations to the
President as he wrestles with these things.
So thank you for all you do for our country.
Thank you for, in particular, taking on this Champions of
Change set of challenges, and please know that you have an
open door here.
There is a deep reservoir of goodwill including,
I just hasten to say again on a day like today or a day like the
last several days, when I'm confident that there's several
people in the room as there is a particular mom in my family or a
couple of brothers in my family who aren't particularly happy
with a decision, I hear from them.
We should hear from you.
And we welcome it.
But we thank you very, very much.
And thanks for giving me a couple of minutes to come by.
Erin Hannigan: Thank you to Denis, to our moderators,
and most importantly to all of our Champions.
If I can just get one more round of applause for all
of our Champions.
And with that our event has ended.
But I hope again you all can learn more about our Champions
by going to
to learn more about their incredible work.
So thank you again!