Hope and Opportunity for Catholic Schools

The following is a short letter that I submitted to the New York Times a few weeks ago in response to an article about Catholic schools. Though it was not published, you may be interested in reading the responses that made it into the Times on January 13th.

Patrick McCloskey and Joseph Harris highlighted many of the challenges of parochial schools in the United States in their New York Times op-ed on January 6th (“Catholic Education, in Need of Salvation“). As principal of a small parochial elementary school in the Midwest, I can attest to the many challenges that we face.  Chief among them is the need to keep Catholic education affordable.  The need to keep tuition low to ensure that enrollment remains stable is in direct conflict with our desire to pay teachers a living wage and reward them for their service to the Church.  The rising cost of health insurance adds additional burden to budgets that are already stretched.

And yet there is hope.  A charismatic and dedicated parish priest who prioritizes education can work wonders for his school by emphasizing the importance of a Catholic education from the pulpit.  Small parishes in middle class neighborhoods can raise surprising amounts of money to help keep tuition affordable and provide assistance to those who need it.  Parishioners sometimes just need to be asked.

Principals, too, are a part of the solution because we have a tremendous amount of freedom to do what is best for our students.  We are often unhampered by standardized testing and the crushing infrastructure, politics and requirements of public school districts.  There is a large degree of freedom in being a parochial school administrator.  Let’s start taking advantage of that to make our schools progressive and innovative.

Use Omnifocus for Free

And, just like that, my first “real” post on this blog is already out of date. The Omnigroup today published a license key enabling free use of Omnifocus (Mac) until version 2.0 is released. This could not have come at a better time for me. I have just started using the software but only bothered with the iPad and iPhone versions because the Mac version was so expensive ($80 for the general public and $50 for educators). Inputting large numbers of tasks was difficult on iOS and that was holding me back quite a bit. Now that I have it on my Macs, there is no excuse for not taking the time to dump the contents of brain into Omnifocus. If you’d like to try it for yourself, you can find the license key on the Omnigroup’s blog.

Stepping up to Omnifocus

I’m not fond of publishing New Year’s resolutions, but in this case it’s appropriate because starting this blog was one of them. It’s always good to start the year off by crossing something off the list, right? In addition to starting this blog, I also want to continue to look for new tech tools to help me do my job, as a second year elementary school principal, better. The most important part of this will be to get a better handle on the many hats I wear and the seemingly infinite number of projects and tasks that I am juggling at any one time, plus the classes for my Ed.S. degree that I start next week. If you read blogs like this one regularly, you may already know where I turned for help: Omnifocus (Mac, iPad, iPhone).Continue reading →

Manifesto and Mission Statement

Welcome to techEDvance, my latest online venture and the first time ever that I am publishing on the web under my real, full name. I’ve been interested in technology since the mid-90s when I started creating websites to publish my writing (with lots of help from my dad). Recently, technology has started to intersect with my chosen profession, education, in new and interesting ways which are constantly evolving. In our profession we are often hesitant about technology, unwilling to change what we consider “tried and true” methods of teaching. In the meantime, the world around us is evolving as our students find new and better ways to connect, inspire, create, and learn. In order for education to advance, we need to embrace the new learning tools and methods that didn’t exist ten, five or even one year ago. My goal in starting this blog is to write about ways that we as educators can help our students learn through educational technology. I’ll also be writing about other things that interest me including (but not limited to) leadership, productivity, software, photography and other geeky things. Thanks for reading this inaugural post. I hope you’ll take the time to subscribe to the site via RSS or email (bottom of this page) and follow me on Twitter (@techEDvance) to keep abreast of the things I’ll be writing and the links I’ll be sharing.