Published May 12, 2005
A celebration was held on April 18 at Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant in Buckhead at the conclusion of two years of service for the inaugural members of the Elementary and Secondary Catholic Schools Council (ESCSC).
This archdiocesan advisory board was convened in the 2003-2004 school year and replaced the former archdiocesan school board, which was dissolved by Archbishop John Donoghue in 2000. The purpose of the new group is to offer advice and assistance to the Office of Catholic Schools and to become familiar with the workings of the schools as a system. The constitution and by-laws of the ESCSC call for a two-year term of membership with representatives from one-half of the total number of schools owned and operated by the archdiocese.
“Given that this was the inaugural committee, I couldn’t be more pleased with the way each member approached whatever our work at hand happened to be for each meeting. Not only did each person represent their individual school, all of them expressed a love and concern for Catholic education across all of our schools,” said Judith Mucheck, superintendent of schools.
Over the past two years, formal presentations were provided to the members by Gary Meader, the archdiocesan chief executive officer, which focused on the financial aspects of the schools system, including tuition assistance, and Cathy Hood, the secretary of human resources, whose main objective was to provide an overview of the many facets of employment. The topics included an exploration of health benefits and retirement benefits. Kathi Stearns, then vice-chancellor and now chancellor, in-serviced the committee on the origins of the archdiocesan safe-environment program as it developed from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. Mucheck presented national data on Catholic education and drew comparisons and contrasts to the status of the schools in Atlanta. Chuck Byrd, admission director at St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, presented the parent education program which is operative for families in the college admissions process. Steve Spellman, principal at St. Pius, provided an overview of the master plan for renovation and construction on the Johnson Road campus. Each presentation generated many questions and lively dialogue. Many committee members commented repeatedly that they were unaware of the complexity of the school system as a whole and came to a greater understanding of the many facets involved in operating and maintaining its health and vibrancy.
In addition to becoming acquainted with the school system, the committee reviewed the strategic plan for the Office of Catholic Schools, which was authored by a team of 30 teacher-educators and administrators over a one-year period. The areas under consideration in the plan were curriculum, public relations/marketing, teacher retention and recruitment and staffing in the Office of Catholic Schools. Specific recommendations made by the initial group were researched and discussed by the ESCSC before they were endorsed or modified. The final plan will be presented to Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory in the coming months for his comment and approval.
The following schools will have ESCSC representation from 2005-2007: Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell; Immaculate Heart of Mary School, Atlanta; Our Lady of Victory School, Tyrone; St. Catherine of Siena School, Kennesaw; St. John Neumann School, Lilburn; St. Joseph School, Marietta; St. Mary School, Rome; St. Peter Claver Regional School, Decatur; and St. Thomas More School, Decatur.