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Catholic Faith Formation Day for educators

Dr. Kevin Baxter, director and superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, speaks at the Catholic Faith Formation Day. (Vermont Catholic/Cori Fugere Urban) Dr. Kevin Baxter, director and superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, speaks at the Catholic Faith Formation Day.
Catholic schools need to be joyful, innovative places to grow and thrive, the director and superintendent of Catholic schools for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles told nearly 235 Catholic school educators and administrators at the Catholic Faith Formation Day Oct. 16 at St. Michael’s College in Colchester.
 
“Innovation does not mean iPads is every kid’s hands. You can be very innovative without technology,” Dr. Kevin Baxter said, explaining innovation is celebrating successes and improving on past performances. “Avoid staleness. We want to be a continually growing organization. We must be continually growing individuals.”
 
More than maintenance is needed, said Baxter, who is responsible for coordinating and implementing the vision for growth for Catholic schools in the archdiocese with a student population of 80,000 from preschool through grade 12. “Change is a requirement for growth.”
 
Innovation can come in such areas as technology integration, curriculum innovation and governance innovation. He encouraged his listeners to be bold and creative and not to be satisfied with always doing things the way they’ve always been done.
 
“In order to be a great school, you have to face the brutal facts of your current reality,” he said. “This is the seed of innovation.”
 
Baxter, a part-time faculty member in the School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, encouraged the creation of a culture in which people can be heard, not worrying about what cannot be controlled (like the economy or the increase in charter schools) and not losing faith.
 
St. Michael School in Brattleboro is poised to meet the emerging needs of 21st-century education and extend its tradition of excellence through a set of innovative changes, noted Principal Elaine Beam. At the heart of its principal initiative will be a  curriculum of classical liberal arts. "The new high school program, emphasizing academic excellence, will feature a classical  curriculum, an integrated program of instruction and  the introduction of seminar-style instruction," she said.

St. Michael's already has added a high school program.

She concurred with Baxter's remark, “We want to be a continually growing organization.” At St. Michael School, she added, "observing the need for innovation, and acting boldly to realize it, incline the school to continual growth."

Basing much of his talk on Pope Francis’ 2013 apostolic exhortation “The Joy of the Gospel” (“Evangelii Gaudium”), Baxter said Catholic schools — like the Church — must operate with joy because “the real mark of a Christian is joy.”
 
Yet he acknowledged that people live and work with barriers to joy: defeatism, “sourpusses” who can sap energy, competition from a technological society, conflict.
 
Baxter encouraged constructively dealing directly with persons with whom there is conflict and forgiving. “Forgiveness is a grace for ourselves,” he added, because holding on to a wrong “burdens us.”
 
To live and work with true joy, he emphasized, “we must have constructive debate and disagree at times but always be able to forgive. … The idea of forgiveness is crucial.”
 
Baxter called upon the school personnel to uplift others and bring them joy.
 
Lisa Lorenz, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington, interim principal of Rice Memorial High School in South Burlington and principal of St. Therese Digital Academy, welcomed the educators to the conference, told participants at the conference they are called “to be madly in love with God.”
 
“When you are, people feel it,” she said.
 
Also presenting at the event was Ben Walther, a singer, songwriter and worship leader.
 
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne celebrated Mass for the formation day participants in the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel.
 
The daylong event, sponsored by the Diocese, was an opportunity for the educators to deepen and focus on their faith.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Last modified onWednesday, 18 October 2017 08:23
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