Professional development boosts staff excellence across Catholic schools

By Sandra R. Sabo and Jessica Trygstad

Catholic schools take pride in helping students become the best versions of themselves. The Catholic Schools Center of Excellence (CSCOE) aims to do the same for Catholic school educators and staff. It does it, in part, by providing free workshops and other professional-development opportunities such as these two recent sessions:

Technology sessions from CSCOE partner Bluum Technology

Educators from across the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis participated in several technology professional-development sessions that CSCOE hosted in partnership with St. Paul-based Bluum Technology. Teachers took advantage of a variety of offerings for practical classroom applications.  

“Catholic school educators are excellent, and we continuously seek their feedback and provide targeted opportunities to sharpen skills, add to their instructional tool kit and ultimately provide the best experience possible for their students,” said Ben Tierney, CSCOE’s director of excellence. 

Workshops covered the Google for Education Suite of programs, as well as software and apps like SeeSaw. These are tools that improve efficiency, productivity and organization for educators and students. 

When teachers maximize their knowledge of these tools, students succeed. 

“We know how crucial professional development is to enhancing excellence, and we also know how expensive and even inaccessible it can be,” Tierney said. “That’s why we’re proud to offer these opportunities to Catholic school teachers and staff free of charge.”

“Dynamic Duo” for principals and administrative assistants

Tierney recently led a two-day workshop, “Dynamic Duo,” for principals and administrative assistants interested in strategies for working better together.

“CSCOE’s seminars are not required, but you get so much out of them,” said participant Jim Grogan, principal of Holy Cross Catholic School in Webster. “The packed room is a testimony to what CSCOE is trying to do — bring corporate-type techniques into the world of Catholic education.” 

Many of Tierney’s recommendations resonated with him. For the first time in his 34 years in education, Grogan is delegating specific daily, weekly and monthly duties to office staff members.  

“Through delegation or cross-training, staff will be empowered to do more. That’s a great efficiency because every person coming in or calling with a question doesn’t necessarily have to wait for the principal to get the answer,” Grogan noted.  

As an administrative assistant, Stephanie Overell appreciated the opportunity to clarify roles and expectations with the new principal at Holy Trinity Catholic School in South St. Paul.

“We’ve talked about using the Daily Dynamic Duo Date or D4, where we meet for 30 minutes every morning to go through requests and the calendar,” Overell said. 

“Dynamic Duo” was the first CSCOE workshop that Anita Davis, Holy Trinity’s interim principal, has attended. She left with plenty to think about. 

“As a new principal, I’m still figuring out which tools would work for us in a small school,” Davis observed. “When we all do our jobs to the best of our ability, we help out everyone in the school community.”