Institute for Catholic Schools

What We Do

The Institute for Catholic Schools was established in 2009 when, consistent with its Mission to serve the local Church, St. John’s University’s Office of the President and The School of Education collaborated and gave birth to The Institute.

The Institute for Catholic Schools was established in 2009 when, consistent with its Mission to serve the local Church, St. John’s University’s Office of the President and The School of Education collaborated and gave birth to The Institute.   The Institute is an active member and participant in Catholic Higher Education Supporting Catholic Schools (CHESCS) under the auspices of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). 

Robert DiNardo, Director of ICS

Robert DiNardo
Director, Institute for Catholic Schools
[email protected] 

Mission Statement

The overarching purpose of the Institute for Catholic Schools is to foster long-term sustainability and the growth and excellence of Catholic education. ICS will assist the local dioceses in cultivating and perpetuating the charism of Catholic schools and work to develop a conduit for Catholic school educators in order to enhance the administrative and academic infrastructure of schools. 

New Ventures


CSTS Word Treatment

The Catholic School Teacher Scholarship (CSTS) has a twofold objective.  The first is to support the academic excellence of Catholic schools by educating and retaining well-trained professionals.  The second is to assist those who have chosen to work in Catholic schools as teachers or administrators a more affordable means to pursue graduate degrees or advanced certificates. 

Catholic School Teacher Scholarship (CSTS) provides full-time Catholic school teachers and administrators to study at St. John's University School of Education for an MS or Advance Certificate at a significant savings. 

Recipients may use this scholarship for any program within the School of Education at St. John’s University. It offers an affordable way to pursue a graduate degree for initial NYS certification or to move into a different aspect of education such as school administration, counseling, special education, just to name a few.

This scholarship is intended for those educators who are currently working as full-time teachers or administrators in a Catholic School within the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, or the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Upon acceptance to the School of Education at St. John’s University, these students will matriculate in a graduate degree or advanced certificate program. This scholarship is offered in addition to the Catholic School Educator Discount offered by St. John’s University to educators currently employed in Catholic schools

The savings realized by the ICS CSTS and the Catholic School Educator Discount results in an out-of-pocket tuition cost that is lower than CUNY tuition.

The agreement represents a mutual understanding of the policies and requirements of the ICS Catholic School Teacher Scholarship for Advanced Degrees. 

The ICS Catholic School Teacher Scholarship covers 30% of the tuition for a program of up to thirty-six credits taken over six semesters, two courses per semester. 

The following are conditions of the scholarship: 

  1. Application and acceptance into a program of study for a graduate degree or advanced certificate program in the School of Education at St. John’s University. 
  2. Commit to remain working full-time as a teacher or administrator in a Catholic School within the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, or the Diocese of Rockville Centre, as a teacher or administrator, for the entire course of the program of study.
  3. Register as a matriculated student in a MS program or advanced certificate program after two courses.** Courses may be taken during the regular semesters as well as the summer semester as long as they fulfill the program requirements. 
  4. Maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA each semester. 
  5. Submit annually the requisite paperwork to the Office of Student Financial Services and the Institute for Catholic Schools. 
  6. Meet with the ICS Director each semester to discuss and evaluate program progress. 
  7. Participate in an annual day of reflection for Catholic school educators as offered by ICS. 
  8. Provide annual reviews of teaching from the school principal. 
  9. Adhere to all Student Code of Conduct and University policies of St. John’s University. 

*Leaving the employment in Catholic schools will result in the forfeiture of the ICS CSTS and students would then be billed for that portion of the tuition. The continuance of the Catholic School Educator Discount offered by the University will also be impacted. 

**Failure to comply with full matriculation after two courses will result in the forfeiture of the ICS CSTS.

ICS Catholic School Teacher Scholarship CSTS) 

Requirements for application: 

Applicants for the ICS CSTS must identify as Roman Catholic and submit the application packet that includes: 

  • documentation of Baptism, Confirmation and Communion; 
  • an essay requesting the scholarship and explains how / why working as a Catholic school educator is a vocation (see essay parameters below); 
  • proof of current full-time employment as a teacher or administrator in a Catholic School within the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, or the Diocese of Rockville Centre;
  • submit copies of the NYS certification status or progress toward NYS certification; and
  • submit two letters of recommendation. 


The typed essay of approximately 500 – 700 words should address the following questions:

  1. Why is being a Catholic school teacher or administrator your vocation? 
  2. How does your faith inspire and influence your pedagogical decisions and the classroom environment you create? 

Letters of Recommendatio

Applicants to the ICS Catholic School Teacher Scholarship are required to have two letters of recommendation submitted in support of their application for the scholarship. 

One must come from the school principal who can speak to the applicant’s work ethic, length of time working as a Catholic school teacher, commitment to Catholic education, and why this applicant’s course of study would be of benefit to the school community. If the applicant is a principal, the recommendation attesting to the above must be from the Education Office of the Diocese in which the principal is employed. 

The other letter should come from a faith leader and/or educator who can speak to the applicant’s faith, integrity, leadership, and academics. 

All information should be sent to the Director of ICS via email, to Robert DiNardo at [email protected].

If you have questions, or require additional information, please contact the Director of ICS, Robert DiNardo, via email at [email protected]

CSTS Success Stories

Emily Conboy

Emily Conboy's Success Story

Emily Conboy is a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Our Lady of Victory School in Floral Park, NY. She has been at OLV since 2017. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and her MSEd in Early Childhood and Childhood Education from Hofstra University. When she decided to return to school to pursue studies in Administration, she was encouraged by her building principal to apply to The School of Education at St. John’s University. She will complete her studies and receive her Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership in May of 2023.

Personal Statement

Receiving the Catholic School Teacher Scholarship has given me the opportunity to pursue the field of administration and expand my studies, while still teaching in the school that I love. Teaching in a Catholic school gives me the opportunity to impact my students not only in their learning, but in their faith as well.

Christine E. Glynn

 Christine E. Glynn's Success Story

Christine E. Glynn from Babylon, NY is now serving as the Principal of St. Patrick School in Bay Shore. Prior to her principalship Christine taught Religious Education at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens since 2018. As a faculty member at SFP Christine filled many facets of the school as the Franciscan Youth Coordinator and Yearbook Adviser. She was brought to teaching after receiving her BA in Theology & Religious Studies from The Catholic University of America. She has also received a Masters of Arts degree in Historical Theology and Masters of Science in School Building Leadership from St. John’s University. Her studies began at St. Mary’s in East Islip as a child and were enriched by her high school years at St. John the Baptist in West Islip. Christine’s leadership is grounded in her faith and driven by her dedication to enriching the lives of her students. She is passionate about her Franciscan values, missionary work, and family unity.

Personal Statement

St. John’s University has played a pivotal role in my advancement as a Catholic Educator. Receiving the CSTS (Catholic School Teachers Scholarship) sponsored by the Institute for Catholic Schools, the allowed me to afford my second masters degree while pursuing my teaching career. I was given the opportunity to grow as an educator, a Catholic, and a leader. I feel very fortunate to have met really inspirational fellow educators who have provided me with endless opportunities, knowledge, connections, etc. As someone who is deeply committed to Catholic education I feel I couldn't have gotten the same opportunities at any other university. I am proud to be a two time alumni of St. John’s University and especially proud to be a member of the Institute for Catholic Schools’ Scholarship cohort!

Emerging Leaders Institute

The Institute for Catholic Schools is very excited to be working with St. John’s School of Education in partnering with the Catholic School Administrators Association of New York State (better known as CSAANYS) in the implementation of the Emerging Leaders Institute.  This unique institute is designed for educators discerning leadership in Catholic schools.  

The cohort of educators will meet with leaders and experts in Catholic education to learn first-hand tools and knowledge not always covered in graduate school programs as well as insights specific to Catholic school leadership.   

On August 8, 2022, the first cohort celebrated completing the course and the second cohort began at a conference day hosted here at St. John’s University. The conference was offered as a hybrid format and the participants who could not attend in person were with us via Zoom. 

ICS Emerging Leaders
Presentations in D’Angelo were followed by Liturgy celebrated by Father Aidan Rooney.
ICS Wolfinger
Dr. James Wolfinger, the Dean of the School of Education, shared his discernment journey
and offered insights into leadership.
Sandy Towers-Halpin gave a presentation on Stress, Health and Wellness that was both invigorating and reflective.
Sandy Towers-Halpin gave a presentation on Stress, Health and Wellness that was both
invigorating and reflective.

For more information on this program, please visit the Emerging Leaders Institute.

Read our Brochure

ICS Success with Catholic Schools

100 staff collaborated to meet the common core series

250 Leaders were provided support to ensure academic success

650 teachers and principals were assisted with CCLS

Additional Information

In Spring of 2019, the Institute for Catholic Schools (ICS) and the Department of Education of the Diocese of Brooklyn collaborated to form a cohort of educators that would pursue a Master of Science degree with a dual major in Childhood Education and TESOL at St. John’s University School of Education.

Congratulations to the final cohort members for completing the program: Brenda DeSilvestri who finished in May of 22 and Diana Meaney who will be graduating this May. 

We are grateful that the Diocese of Brooklyn guided these dedicated teachers to The School of Education and to the principals who supported their teachers through the process. We are grateful for the financial support provided by the Diocese of Brooklyn, St. John’s University, and the Institute for Catholic Schools which allowed this journey to reach a successful conclusion.

Of course, no degree would be possible without the professors and members of The School of Education; thanks to all of you. 

The first ICS CSTS Cohort is completing its first year. While most of the cohort members began their degree programs in the fall of 22, some members had already been in a program in The School of Education . 

Those members do not need the scholarship for the full degree as they had several credits completed. 

Congratulations to Christine Glynn who completed her degree in School Building Leadership as of December 23 (her second Master’s Degree from St. John’s University) and to Emily Conboy who will finisher her Advanced Certificate in School Building Leadership in May 23!

To date, Institute for Catholic Schools programs have included:

Curriculum Leadership Teams: CLT's

In the early years of the Institute of Catholic Schools, Curriculum Leadership Teams (CLT) were formed in the elementary schools in the Archdiocese of New York and in the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre, NY. 

The original intent was to prepare educators in Catholic schools for the roll out of the Common Core state learning standards. The educators trained during these professional development sessions would then be turnkey trainers who would facilitate the transition to the Common Core in their buildings. This effort of pursuing more rigorous academic standards included the integration of Catholic identity as part of the daily curriculum. CLT sessions were implemented over 10 interactive sessions.

Over the years, the CLT sessions have adapted to meet the needs of the principals and teachers of the dioceses. CLT professional development sessions focus on a particular topic to explore over the course of a year. Topics have included assessment and essential questions; STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or, in our case, STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, and mathematics); cross-curricula unit planning; and data analysis. 

During the most current year, 2020–21, the CLT sessions focused on digital engagement in order to meet the needs of teachers who needed skills and tools to teach both to their in-person students and those who were remote.  

Not only have the topics of professional development changed—so has the implementation of the Curriculum Leadership Teams. Sessions were originally conducted in person at St. John’s University. There were 10 sessions scheduled, but once per month was a difficult pace to sustain for the teachers. After a few years, the implementation of topics was redesigned to four, four-hour session. 

Due to the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, the CLT sessions in 2020–21 were conducted via a digital platform on Saturday mornings. The digital engagement CLT series had more than 140 participants in total, representing 62 different schools from the three dioceses.  Although a few educators attended only one session, the majority of participants (84) attended two or more. Although meeting in person is the ideal, the digital nature of the material was able to be presented online. The modeling of teaching digitally was also part of the design.  

The following is feedback received from these sessions.

  • “I have attended these classes for many, many years and they have all been beneficial in some way. I hope that they continue to offer more Zoom classes in the coming years, focused on technology.”
  • “I was highly satisfied with how the sessions were planned and how they were rolled out through Zoom during this time. The presenters were very knowledgeable and explained the materials in a way everyone could follow and understand.” 
  • “I really liked this year. We all know that the past year has been challenging in education for all of us. I really liked how you showed how to use the free versions of each of the programs you demonstrated. I think that technology in the classroom is important, and will continue to be important, with or without complete in-person. I think just continuing to keep us up to date on the latest programs is great. It keeps students motivated to want to learn more, especially if we use new things. It keeps them more engaged.” 
  • “I attended all CLT sessions this year and they were AMAZING! Thank you for offering them. I came away with so much knowledge that I will implement in the classroom. If possible, I would like more future sessions to be geared toward early childhood.
  • “I expect that my students will be more engaged in their learning processes. I was excited to utilize some of the technologies and applications presented.” 

Digital professional development can be an effective means of strengthening skills, as well as building a professional network beyond one’s school or even one’s neighborhood. We look forward to other opportunities in the coming year.

Assistant Principals’ Program 

This professional development program was designed by a team of assistant principals and based on the results of surveys administered to those in this position in early 2020 throughout the three local dioceses, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre.

Four full-day sessions of professional development that blended theory and practice to be implemented on site were scheduled during the Spring of 2020. They were designed so participants would have time to collaborate to work through the objectives of the theories presented. However, only the first session was held in 2020 due to the pandemic.  

The sessions were re-imagined, and during the Spring of 2021, the program began anew. Three topics of concern to administrators were presented through a digital platform: supervision and evaluation, strategic decision-making and leadership, and legal issues and school responsibility regarding technology and social media. Each topic was covered in two, two-hour sessions and the lead presenters were members of St. John’s faculty.   

Each webinar topic had approximately 15 participants. Throughout the spring sessions, 19 different Catholic high schools participated in these informative and practical sessions.  

Master of Science Certification Cohort 

Two years ago, the Office of the Superintendent of the Diocese of Brooklyn, through the Institute for Catholic Schools, partnered with St. John’s University to assist its teachers on the pathway to New York State certification.     

Over the past six semesters, a dozen dedicated educators have been working diligently on this path as they take classes for their dual major of Childhood Education and TESOL. The hard work and grit of these teachers has been an inspiration to all who have been part of their journey. It has been a very rewarding experience for ICS, the Brooklyn diocese, and the teachers.

We are grateful that the Diocese of Brooklyn contacted ICS and that The School of Education accepted this challenge. It is our hope that this cohort is the first of many.  

Here is what some of the teachers had to say about their experience as part of the cohort.

  • Yazmin Martinez: “For me, St. John’s was an unreachable dream, so being able to take any courses from it was a gift. Getting my master’s from St. John’s is like touching the moon and the stars. I am very grateful to the Diocese of Brooklyn, to all of those who made this possible, and to St. John’s for helping me achieve this journey.”
  • Giuseppina Maruca: “Two years ago, I had the opportunity to join the cohort at St. John’s University. It was a coincidence that besides Childhood Education, grades 1–6, it was also a dual major that included the TESOL program. It brought me back to my childhood when I started kindergarten in New York only speaking Italian. I am glad and thankful to have been a part of this cohort. It wasn’t always easy, especially when we went to remote teaching because of the pandemic and then had graduate classes also go remote. It was definitely hectic most of the time, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I never thought I could do it, but I did!”
  • Diana Meaney: “Since 2019, I myself have been the beneficiary of the ICS’s generous support, first in the institute’s guidance of myself and 13 other veteran Catholic school teachers along the pathway to state certification in Childhood Education/TESOL, and currently in its provision of actual tuition subsidies. After 40+ years in the classroom, I can honestly say I would never have been able to take on this new challenge so late in my career without the ICS’s stewardship. The ICS staff has always been there for us Brooklyn diocese cohort members, in terms of creating a program that works within our schedules (even including an intensive three-week kick-off summer semester); ironing out issues with the Registrar or Bursar; shepherding us through New York State certification requirements (which have changed so much since many of us began teaching); and now, helping us procure additional financial support. 

The course work I have taken in our cohort program has challenged me to really re-evaluate my teaching practice in light of current research into how to best meet the needs of the diverse student populations in a city such as ours. This will hopefully impact in a positive way the hundreds of children I teach each week. 

During these stressful pandemic times, the institute provided Zoom webinars and professional development designed to nourish teachers’ oftentimes drooping spirits. As someone who has spent her entire life in Catholic education (from one side of the desk or the other), I am so thankful for the encouragement and resources provided by the ICS, and know very intimately how vitally important its mission is in helping Catholic schools not just survive, but really flourish, in this new millennium.”

St. Vincent de Paul Program

This program is a partnership between the Diocese of Brooklyn and St. John’s Institute for Catholic Schools.  A two-year in-service program for principals, board chairs and board directors in the Diocese of Brooklyn focusing on the roll-out of the new governance structure for its elementary schools. Schools with this new governance model are called "Academies." An annual all-day symposium is planned for the "graduates" as well as current participants in the program. The Institute also partners with the Diocese of Brooklyn’s semi-annual convocation.  To date, we have provided in-service for the boards and principals of 57 academies.  Cohort VI which commenced in September 2015 includes 19 academies.  The curriculum has been revised to mirror the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.  2014 marked the deepening of the partnership when the University began participating in fall and spring convocations coordinated by the Diocese, as well as coordination of the spring convocation.   

Management Seminars for Catholic School Leaders 

This two-fold program is a collaborative venture between the Vincentian Center for Church and Society and the Peter J. Tobin College of Business, both at St. John’s University. It provides a three-day seminar in the key aspects of running a Catholic school effectively including Catholic Identity and Servant Leadership; mission, vision and values; marketing and development; budgeting; time management; recruitment and retention; and strategic planning.  121 educators from three dioceses have participated.  An intensive one-day symposium in Marketing the Mission was developed at the request of Management Seminar participants, and subsequently completed by fifty-seven individuals.  As of this year, 426 schools from the three dioceses have completed the Management Seminar, including four Catholic high schools.