The LMU School of Education welcomed a diverse group of 30 students from 11 dioceses representing eight states earlier this month for “Invitation to Lead,” a weekend kickoff to the students’ enrollment in the Catholic School Leadership Academy’s Certificate in Catholic School Administration program. The graduate students — Catholic school principals, teachers, learning specialists, deans and directors — comprise the program’s two cohorts: the Los Angeles- and Orange County-based group that meets at LMU, and the group of students from across the country who are pursuing the certificate online.
SOE’s Certificate in Catholic School Administration prepares novice and future Catholic school leaders for success by imparting knowledge and skills specific to the Catholic school environment. “While most school principal preparation programs focus on the public and charter school context, LMU’s certificate program is aligned to the unique and powerful role of the Catholic school principal as a spiritual, organizational, instructional, and systemness leader,” says Lauren Casella, the program’s director. “This program speaks to LMU’s commitment to Catholic school education, which is evident throughout the many SOE programs geared toward Catholic school educators. Our goal is to prepare leaders to cultivate a vibrant Catholic culture, to serve as effective lead-learners, and to lead with operational skill.”
The program does this through the instruction of faculty who are renowned Catholic school leaders, as well as drawing from outside expertise. Among the faculty are Tony Galla, deputy superintendent of elementary schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Department of Catholic Schools; John Reyes, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for South Carolina Catholic schools in Charleston; and Sr. Mary Angela Shaughnessy, a senior distinguished fellow of Catholic education at LMU and a leadership mentor who has been named one of the 25 most influential persons in Catholic education. The program also collaborates closely with SOE’s Institute for School Leadership and Administration, which develops public and charter school leaders, as well as bringing in experts from LMU’s College of Business Administration, Department of Theological Studies, and Campus Ministry.
Designed by the late Anthony “Tony” Sabatino to reach Catholic school leaders across the country through the online option, the certificate program receives critical funding from Catholic Extension, a national organization dedicated to supporting Catholic faith communities in under-resourced and remote areas. That funding has enabled the SOE program to reach 30 mission dioceses, notes Casella. The program is housed in SOE’s Center for Catholic Education, which furthers the mission of Catholic schools in Southern California and across the country.
Casella believes that the diversity of the Certificate in Catholic School Administration program cohort is a great asset. “One of the most important parts of this program is the professional and spiritual support our students gain from each other,” she explains. “The diversity of this group enriches the experience by allowing them to see the challenges people are facing in other settings, share best practices, and form lifelong friendships and networks that will support their ability to be excellent Catholic school leaders beyond the coursework.”