Teachers Helping Teachers for Christ: Catholic Schools Take the Lead
How can Catholic School teachers help each other when they are spread out across the state? The Birmingham Catholic School system has taken the lead by using technology to help teachers connect. This Fall, our Diocesan School system became the first in Alabama (public or private) to host a wide-scale Google Summit in partnership with Eduscape, a professional learning organization that helps teachers work together.
Fran Lawlor is the Superintendent of Catholic Schools. Julie Emory-Johnson directs curriculum development and faculty formation for the diocese of Birmingham. They worked with Eduscape to design a faculty in-service in September that drew 575 people together from across the diocese at John Carrol Catholic High School. Faculty and staff taught one another and learned how to use technology to facilitate their cooperation. Educational research shows that teachers teach better when they help each other. They draw together into “Professional Learning Communities” (PLCs). Our Google Summit helped make these communities a regular part of Catholic faculty formation.
The Birmingham Catholic School System is geographically the largest in Alabama. We have 28 Schools that cover 28,000 square miles. More than 600 employees serve over 6,000 students. We may be extensive in land mass, but we are united in mission: to renew all things in Christ.
At the end of September, our principals met together at St. Bernard’s Abbey for their annual retreat and to commit all these initiatives to the Lord. The retreat leader was Fr. Michael Deering. Fr. Deering has been a tireless supporter of Catholic education for years, even sending children in his parish by bus to neighboring Catholic schools. He spoke about the heart of all Catholic education: our life of Grace in Christ. In the end, it is not technology or PLCs that meet our deepest needs. These are only tools. The fullness of Catholic education is to be found in Jesus.