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St. John’s Institute Bolsters Catholic Education around the Region

St. Thomas More Church Steeple
Monday, November 13, 2017

As it begins its seventh year, the Institute for Catholic Schools at St. John’s University continues to strengthen elementary and secondary Catholic schools throughout the New York region by regularly offering professional development and other programs for teachers and administrators. 

Established in 2009, the Institute partners with the Archdiocese of New York and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre to support the mission and work of the Catholic schools they encompass. Under the auspices of The School of Education at St. John’s, the Institute is an active member of Catholic Higher Education Supporting Catholic Schools (CHESCS), part of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). 

Mary Jane Krebbs, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Institute and a former Associate Dean in The School of Education. Given the significant number of Catholic schools that have closed or merged in recent years, she noted, the Institute aims to ensure the success of those which remain. “We are working to enhance them,” she said, “while helping them to achieve continued academic success.” 

With over 40 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in the Archdiocese of New York, Dr. Krebbs brings abundant experience and contacts to her work at the Institute.  Professional development is a pillar of its outreach, and there are four signature programs that have been part of those efforts from the start.

One offering, the St. Vincent de Paul Program, partners with the Brooklyn Diocese to provide training for its board members, board chairs, and school principals.  Project TIE (Training Innovative Educators) is a three-year development program at individual school sites.

The Curriculum Leadership Team (CLT) is a one-year, 10-session program in which groups of teachers and their principals participate in an interactive effort to roll out the Common Core. The Management Seminar for Catholic School Leaders focuses on marketing Catholic schools effectively.

The three dioceses frequently consult with the Institute regarding programs for school administrators and faculty. “Participating helps each of us to reflect on our practice, using our colleagues as sounding boards for new ideas and methods of instruction,” observed Hope Mueller, Principal of St. Ann’s School in New York City. “It brings together educators from across the region, who might not otherwise have opportunities to meet, collaborate, and share our varied skill sets. We’re able to grow and adapt in order to provide our students with the best education possible.”

“Simple things like finding peace everyday and assuring the Catholic Identity of my school are easier for me thanks to the time I spent with St. John's leaders at the Institute,” added Maryalice Doherty, Principal of Holy Family School, in Hicksville, NY. “I truly look forward to all of the Institute’s offerings. I believe I am better in my role as a Catholic School leader every time I attend anything at St. John’s.”

Steven Neier, Associate Director for the Institute and Assistant for Mission, Media, and Outreach in The School of Education, noted that, as the Institute looks to the future, one critical piece might be the training of educators who specifically want to be Catholic school teachers and feel called to it as a vocation.

“The beauty of this,” Mr. Neier stressed, “is that every day of the week, the Institute celebrates Catholic education. We really believe in the schools and the people who choose to work in those schools.”