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Five Diocesan Leaders Speak at National Conference

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Five leaders from the Diocese of Raleigh were presenters at the annual meeting of the National Catholic Education Association (NCEA) held in Minneapolis-St. Paul this week. The convention attracts thousands of Catholic educators from throughout the United States.

The theme of this year’s event was Leadership. Direction. Service. In addition to general plenary sessions, the meeting provided workshops on a variety of topics for teachers at all grade levels. They included “Use of Internet and Social Networking Policies,” “Curriculum, Development and Catholic Identity,” “A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain” and “A Whole School Approach to Building Diversity and Tolerance.”

With many Catholic schools facing consolidation or closing in the Northeast and Midwest, the issue of maintaining viable schools was a topic of several sessions for school superintendents and principles. Dr. Michael Fedewa, Superintendent of Catholic Education and Formation in the Diocese of Raleigh, took part in a panel discussion on school finance, particularly in order to develop policies, partnerships and programs to sustain Catholic institutions. Dr. Fedewa noted the Diocese of Raleigh is facing challenges different from other parts of the country, due to a Catholic population that has grown 42% in the last ten years. He noted that nine Catholic elementary schools have opened since 1994 and a new facility for the Diocese’s current only high school was also built during that time. He said a new high school has been approved for Greenville, with a ninth grade class beginning this August. Discussions are underway for the possible establishment of a high school in the Wilmington area.

Dr. Fedewa said schools in the Diocese of Raleigh use four different types of funding: the typical parish-funded model, a deanery-supported model, a parish assessment-based model and a cost-based model.

Mr. Jason Curtis, principal of Cardinal Gibbons High School, presented a session on developing leadership in high school students.  His comments centered on how to train and sustain students in leadership roles throughout their high school experience.

Mrs. Donna Moss, principal of Cathedral Catholic School, provided a session on cost-based tuition and needs-based tuition assistance.  In cost-based tuitions models, schools calculate the true cost of education per pupil, establishing that cost as tuition. Previous subsidies and fundraising dollars then go to financial assistance to help families meet that tuition.

Fr. Mark Reamer, Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Raleigh, and Mrs. Jennifer Bigelow, principal of The Franciscan School, offered a session on the importance of developing a common mission between parish and school.  They explained that through collaboration and coordination both entities can work toward fulfilling the mission of the Church.