July/August Newsletter

Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Newsletters | No Comments

A New School Year, a New Fiscal Year:

“Only One Chance to Make a First Impression”

With the 2017 – 2018 school year getting ready to kick into high gear in August and September, and with parishes coming off of their summer breaks and the new fiscal year starting July 1st, there will be many opportunities for Catholic schools and parishes to make a first impression. Fortunately or unfortunately, there will only be one chance to make that first impression with each of the different groups of people who make up your school and/or parish constituent base. For example, there will only be one chance in Catholic schools to make that first impression with the following:

  • Your first new faculty/staff meeting
  • Your first full faculty/staff meeting
  • Your registration day(s)
  • Your students’ first day of school
  • Your “Back to School Night”
  • Your first Advisory Council (Board) meeting
  • Your first PTA Meeting

On the parish side of things, you will have opportunities to make that first impression with some of the following in this new fiscal year:

  • First Parish (Pastoral) Council meeting of the new fiscal year and usually the one when new Council members are introduced
  • First parish staff meeting of fiscal year
  • Back to School Mass(es) for faculty/staff and student body
  • Welcome Back to School weekend masses  (new audience at every Mass)

Whether you are the pastor, the principal, the president, the development officer,

or any other Catholic leader, here are some questions for you to consider as you meet with these groups for that first time in August and/or September

  • How will you make an unforgettable first impression?
  • How will you set a positive, believable and encouraging tone?
  • How will you be able to share impactful information that will bring about excitement, hope and further vision?
  • How will you use these opportunities to build a strong team of ambassadors, believers, and missionary disciples?
  • How will you have people realize how important they are to your Catholic school and/or parish?
  • How will you know what they are thinking in regards to ways they can better serve?

There probably is another basic question, and that question is: Do the above two paragraphs fit into your school/parish culture? I have to ask that question, because if the approach is to simply check a box off on the school/parish calendar that the first faculty/staff orientation session is over, then none of this will make too much sense.

Here are seven thoughts and themes that you may want to consider – some applicable to all groups with whom you will be meeting and some applicable to some.

  • Vision and/or Mission
    • What is the vision for the future of your Catholic school? Are you able to articulate that vision – in the spoken and written word? If so, how? At Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, through their Strategic Growth Plan process, they created the following: Catholic. Marianist. Forming our students into remarkable young men. In articulating that mission, everything they do is built around whether or not they are forming their students into remarkable young men. How exciting would a presentation to groups coming back to the start of a new school year to be able hear the many ways that Moeller High School is forming their students into remarkable young men?
    • At National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in the Archdiocese of Detroit, their vision is: The National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica will be a band of joyful missionary disciples who go forth filled with the love of Christ, in the spirit of St. Therese, giving witness to the Good News, sharing the faith through word and action, thus drawing all to communion in Christ.
    • Both of these statements certainly call for innovation, involvement, and plans of action. What would you say that would be meaningful to any of these groups?
  • Action Plan
    • When people hear a mission and/or a vision, they want to know one thing: how do we live the mission and/or how do we realize that vision? Being able to show and lay out the action steps that will allow your school/parish to reach that vision and live that mission puts energy and excitement into the beginning of a new year. Share specifics. Give timelines. Show progress.
  • Focus for 2017-18 school year
    • What are the 5-10 areas you are going to focus on in 2017-18? This could be a new personnel position; it could be a new addition to the curriculum; it could be a new facility; it could be a new theme; it could be a new community service program; it could be a new ministry; it could be a new planning process. We encourage you to let people know the focus.
    • For example, coming out of a planning process this past year with St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Alpharetta, Georgia, they are clear on their focus:
      • Youth and Family Development
      • Engaging the 70% not involved and disengaged (Gallup terminology)
      • Maximizing the use of technology in parish communication
      • Educating people on the true meaning of stewardship
    • As stated in an earlier newsletter, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Belle Chasse, LA is focusing on the many ways that the parish and the school can collaborate.
  • Leadership
    • When we were younger and our dad was still alive, my brother and I always received words of wisdom from “the old man”. My brother went on to build a successful dental practice, and I went on to work in leadership roles in Catholic schools and parishes. I can distinctly remember hearing him say years ago, “Just because you have a role and a title as a leader that doesn’t make you any better than anybody else. That just gives you greater responsibility.”
    • Through the years, I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with hundreds of Catholic leaders – bishops, superintendents, presidents, pastor, principals, advancement personnel, board and council presidents, and more. Most are truly outstanding. They are accessible; they have an open door; they are respectful of other people and their time; they are gracious for everything and everyone; they go out of their way to accommodate; they treat everyone – not just certain ones – equally and with respect.
    • Clearly explaining your leadership style and what people can expect of you as a leader can go a long way in setting the tone for success.
  • People engagement – Team building
    • Here at ISPD, we are such believers in people engagement, team management and not boss management, and building teams of people who can not only believe in what you are doing, but actually roll up their sleeves and help you implement.
    • Belonging leads to believing. As simple as it sounds, when people really feel they belong to something, (i.e. a mission? a vision? a team? a cause? an accomplishment?) then they will believe and be willing to share that belief with many, many more people.
    • Please seek to build teams and not walls.
  • Ways you can partner with us
    • As you view the above messages/themes, it will also be important to clearly name the ways that people can partner with the school and/or the parish. With each audience, list the ways that they can make an impact. Sometimes this can be something very specific (i.e. joining a team or a new committee or commission), and sometimes this is an attitude (i.e. talking about the new theme for the year – Gather as One, Go Forth as Many) or participation in some event or future happening (i.e. bringing a prospective student to a Bring-A-Friend Day at the school).
    • Above all, let each audience know what they can do and how. In the climate we are involved in today with our Catholic schools and parishes, leadership can no longer be a one-person show. To move confidently forward, our culture must be about building the bridges for anyone who wishes to walk hand-in-hand with us. Control used to mean power; today, control can lead to apathy on the part of people who have not been empowered.
  • Tangible information
    • Walk away with something tangible! Please don’t let this first opportunity go by without inviting people to share an opinion or check off a box or give a new idea or take a quick survey. Here are some examples:
      • At Back to School Night, have everyone fill out a card before they leave in which they answer the question: “By November 1st, how will you know that you and your child(ren) are having a great school year?” Have them write their name on the card, publish 8-10 of the best ones, and then before the end of November, report how the school is living up to these expectations.
      • At the first Parish (Pastoral) Council meeting of the new fiscal year, hand out a sheet of paper that asks the question: By January 1, 2018, how will we know if what we are doing as a Parish Council is effective?” Have each Parish Council member take the question home and write down his/her answers and bring them back to the next meeting to discuss.
      • At the first full faculty meeting, hand out a card with the question, “What are some topics we always want to hear about in the faculty room?”

These opportunities that will be happening in August and September are a great way to set the tone for the next school year and the new fiscal year in the parish. We encourage you to take advantage of making that first impression.


Recently, ISPD completed a multi-month consultation with Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish and School in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. One of the results of this process was the creation of a Strategic Plan for Development and Stewardship. If you would like a free copy of the brochure that outlines their Strategic Plan, please e-mail Frank Donaldson at fedonaldson@ispd.com, and we will send you one.



The University of Dayton and the Institute for School and Parish Development (ISPD) announce their first on-line certificate course in Catholic School Development/Advancement:

“Understanding, Organizing and Implementing a Vibrant Catholic School Development/Advancement System.” Designed by ISPD in coordination with The University of Dayton, this on-line course is tailor-made for Catholic leaders: pastors, presidents, principals, development/advancement directors, marketing committees, faculty and staff, board members, enrollment management directors, and volunteers. In order to make this course available to as many people as possible, The University of Dayton and ISPD have kept the cost at $75.00 per student for all 10 lessons.

This is a five month course beginning Thursday, August 31, 2017. Students will be able to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) from The University of Dayton and a Certificate of Completion by participating in the ten classes from August – December. The class will be taught by Frank Donaldson, president of ISPD, and the lessons will follow the book he recently wrote which is available through NCEA.

For further information please go to: http://www.ispd.com/online-courses/

To register, please go to: https://vlcff.udayton.edu/profile/ispd_profile.php

Here are the dates and times for the ten on-line classes.

  • Thursday, August 31, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Thursday, September 14, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Friday, October 13, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Friday, October 26, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Monday, November 6, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Friday, November 17, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Thursday, November 30, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Friday, December 8, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL
  • Monday, December 18, 2017 – 1:00 PM CENTRAL


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