‘Significant’ improvements made in L.I. Catholic Elementary Schools due Morning Star initiative: Report

‘Significant’ improvements made in L.I. Catholic Elementary Schools due Morning Star initiative: Report

Significant progress has been made in the renewal and transformation of Catholic Elementary School education on Long Island, according to MSI-Impact-Report.pdf (drvc.org by the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Morning Star Initiative.

The Morning Star Initiative Impact Report cites progress made against the Morning Star Initiative’s four success pillars: 1) Academic Excellence, 2) Robustly Catholic Culture, 3) Safe and Supportive Communities and 4) Fiscally Sustainable Schools.

“Since the Morning Star Initiative was launched in early 2020, we have strengthened the academic rigor of our schools and stabilized enrollment despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy,” said Brother Thomas Cleary, chief revitalization officer of the Morning Star Initiative.

With more than $3.5 million in funds raised by the Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation for the Morning Star Initiative and then invested in Catholic education, the Catholic Elementary Schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre have achieved significant academic improvements, safe in-person instruction, strong remote learning, strong marketing and recruitment efforts, innovative new academic programs and stabilization of Nursery – 8th grade enrollment.

In the area of strengthening the pillar that Catholic Schools are here to stay, the Diocese of Rockville Centre Department of Education along with the Morning Star Initiative works to increase enrollment.  Some examples include:

  • Enrollment increase of 100 students for the 2022-2023 academic year at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School, Deer Park/Central Islip
  • New approaches to school oversight and governance piloted at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School, Deer Park/Central Islip and Holy Name of Mary Parish School in Valley Stream; while serving ethnically diverse and high needs student populations
  • Marketing to prospects using Google, Facebook and Instagram
  • Principals using technology including webinars to market schools to local communities
  • More than $700,000 in scholarships for underserved students in grades K-8 across Long Island directed by the Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation
  • $2.45 million provided in tuition assistance from Tomorrow’s Hope Foundation to nearly 1,200 students in 35 elementary schools for the 2021-2022 school year

In the area of Academic Excellence, philanthropic support of the Morning Star Initiative has enabled the Diocese of Rockville Centre Department of Education to enhance the academic rigor in its elementary schools by investing in technology, teachers and academic programs.  For example:

  • Thousands of learning devices delivered to Catholic elementary school students across Long Island; more than 2,000 devices for low-income students in underserved communities
  • Teachers from across the diocese are pooling resources and sharing expertise with other grade-level and subject-area teachers through the new Curriculum Leads program
  • All teachers and principals received increased compensation and professional development for the 2021-2022 academic year. Teachers will also receive a salary and step increase for the 2022-2023 year
  • Strong interest in a Dual Language pilot program at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School, Deer Park and Central Islip

The Curriculum Associates’ i-Ready® Assessment System implemented in each school, is a new, state-of-the-art tool enabling educators to better understand how individual students are progressing throughout the school year.  i-Ready offers teachers criterion-referenced and normative data to deliver impactful, equitable learning experiences in real time.

More than 8,000 students have received personalized i-Ready math and reading instruction.  When receiving 30 minutes or more of personalized instruction per week, the median student was 8 percent above year-end expectations (“Typical Growth”) in Math and 28 percent above year-end expectation in reading.

In the area of a building a Robustly Catholic Culture, the Diocese of Rockville Centre Department of Education, through the Morning Star Initiative has sharpened and enhanced its spiritual, intellectual, sacramental and liturgical capabilities.  For example:

  • Catholic culture strengthened through the appointment of Father Matthew M. Browne, S.T.L. to the new position of Bishop’s Delegate to the Department of Education, to guide integration of a robustly Catholic culture in the elementary schools
  • Catholic Identity and Mission is stronger through the hiring of a director of Catholic identity and mission. For the first time, the director leads workshops, faculty and student retreats
  • Teachers’ faith formation strengthened through workshops and online courses

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