DE PERE — A new initiative involving three Green Bay area Catholic education institutions may become a national model for other Catholic schools. The collaborative effort seeks to create “world class Catholic education in the greater Green Bay area.”
During a June 8 press conference at St. Norbert College, Tom Kunkel, SNC president, Kevin Shaw, new president of Notre Dame Academy (NDA), and Norbertine Fr. Dane Radecki, outgoing president of the Green Bay Area Catholic Education System (GRACE) announced four initiatives designed to link the three institutions and better serve the community.
“We will partner to create … all kinds of opportunities and we will start by sharing four new initiatives,” said Fr. Radecki. These include:
— Catholic Link: A two-part program that will link St. Norbert faculty and students with GRACE students “to intentionally create unique learning opportunities for students,” said Fr. Radecki. It will also allow faculty from all three institutions to share educational delivery best practices.
“Beginning this fall, faculty at St. Matthew, Resurrection and St. Thomas More schools and St. Norbert College will explore ways to enhance learning opportunities to best equip students with 21st century skills,” said Kunkel. “Over time, more GRACE schools will be added into this program.”
— Faculty and staff from all three institutions will receive tuition discount of at least 50 percent at all three schools for each of their children. The announcement received a rousing applause from educators attending the news conference at Dudley Birder Hall.
— In an effort to attract “exceptional teaching talent,” St. Norbert College education majors who teach at a GRACE school or at NDA for at least three years following graduation will receive a $5,000 grant. Funds for grant come from an anonymous donor, said Shaw. “Our objective is to encourage more young professionals to help grow our Catholic schools,” he added.
— The fourth initiative involves collaborative efforts to allow shared knowledge and expertise in admissions, marketing, fund-raising, alumni relations, athletics and professional education.
“Already we have committed to hosting an enrollment summit, bringing together our three admissions operations to share knowledge to further advance our efforts,” said Kunkel. “Shortly we will do the same with alumni and donor engagement and many other areas that are essential in recruiting students.
“We have a shared interest in growing our schools and furthering Catholic education,” said Kunkel. “This, we believe, is just the beginning of what we will do together.”
“We are committed to … raising the bar for our students and providing world class Catholic education in our community, pre-K through college,” said Fr. Radecki. “We have all of the right ingredients to truly be exceptional and our mission calls us to aim high.”
In an interview, Kunkel said that the plan is unique and may become a model for other institutions.
“One of the striking things about this, is that it’s … rather unusual in Catholic education at these three levels,” he said, noting that, in Winona, Minn., St. Mary’s University has been involved in collaborative projects, but not like the Green Bay model.
“One would think that more institutions might be looking to do it and we hope that more will once we get this established,” he said. “Part of what we are trying to do is establish a template that could be repeated anywhere.”
Joe Bound, diocesan Director of Education, attended the press conference and said that he is excited about the proposal and believes it will be a model for institutions.
“This is definitely going to strengthen Catholic education in the area. It’s going to be a way of keeping the graduates in this community, giving back to the community within Catholic education,” he said.
Bound said that several decades ago, while working in the Archdiocese of Hartford, Conn., school superintendents from 11 dioceses in the New England area met yearly and discussed collaborative efforts with Catholic universities and colleges. “But it never got off the ground,” he said. “It’s so neat for me to see this happen.”
“I would suggest to all three (institutions) to seriously consider doing a presentation at the NCEA conference. This is a model for Catholic education throughout the United States. People need to hear how this came about, what the outcomes are and what the plans are for the future. This is just the beginning of it.”