Column: Training allows staffs to grow spiritually

Kathy O'Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.
Kathy O’Hara is the superintendent of archdiocesan schools.

by Kathy O’Hara

Dear friends of Catholic schools,

When I first came to serve in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas office of Catholic schools more than 15 years ago, one of the common concerns I heard from principals and teachers in our schools was that of their limited access to faith and professional development opportunities. I am pleased to be able to say that today the staff in our office has been able to provide more than 100 workshops to school staffs each year, which translates into more than 300 hours of professional development opportunities annually. School staffs not only have been trained in best practices related to instruction, but also they have had the opportunity to grow spiritually as faith communities through their School of Faith sessions.

Approximately 12 years ago, with the assistance of a group of principals and teachers, we determined that it would be important to routinely gather all of the staffs of Catholic schools in the archdiocese together. This sounds like a great idea in theory, but the logistics of planning a meaningful event for 1200 people traveling from all points of the archdiocese (a three-hour drive for some!) are challenging, but well worth the effort.

On Oct. 21, the faculties and staffs of the 44 Catholic schools in the archdiocese will gather once again in what has become an every three year event. We are excited to have three nationally known speakers join us.

Dr. Thomas Wood will speak to the themes in his book, “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization,” which describes the contri- butions of church scholars in the fields of science, economics, law, art, and music.

Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer, president of the Magis Institute, will describe the vast array of evidence from physics, medicine, and philosophy that addresses the relationship between faith and science.

Dr. Mary McDonald, former superintendent of Catholic schools in Memphis, Tenn., will share her personal story of how she came to understand what “a call to be God’s arms” meant as she led the opening of the Jubilee schools in the heart of inner-city Memphis. I have been privileged to hear each of these speakers, and I am anxious for all of our staffs to have the unique opportunity to hear their important messages.

However, the most important part of the day will be the celebration of the Eucharist with Archbishop Naumann. To pray and sing praise with all the teachers and school leaders in one place is awesome. Please say a prayer that this day will, indeed, be one of formation, information, and inspiration for all of us who serve in Catholic schools.

¡Vaya con Dios!

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