Last summer, Sister Mary Jane Herb, IHM, superintendent of
Catholic Schools for the Albany Diocese, pledged to make "Called to be
Church" the broad theme for the school year.
"During the course of the year, we read three books and
then discussed how they could impact our schools," she said.
"Reading these books helped our educators improve our awareness in the
field of education, how to move from being good schools to great ones, and
brought us insight by offering an excellent opportunity for continued growth
The three books were "Good to Great" by Jim
Collins, "Results Now" by Michael J. Schmoker and "The Plot
Against America" by Philip Roth.
She also "encouraged the staff of our parish schools to
become directly involved in their deanery and parish planning groups for the
'Called to be Church' initiative. There is a direct link between the
initiative, and the operation and continued growth of our Catholic
This year, as school resumes, Sister Jane has expanded the
"Called to be Church" theme to include accountability -- of
educators and school leaders to parents, students and the larger Catholic
"Accountability is tied in with the 'Called to be
Church' theme," she explained. "Parish staff and volunteers are
working to establish their needs for the future. This includes supporting
their Catholic schools. Because we are always striving to improve our
schools, accountability to our parishes, parents and students is part of
To that end, the diocesan Catholic Schools Office has
initiated an "accountability report card" for all schools.
Sister Jane said that she will attend school board meetings
around the Diocese this year, and schools will be "graded" on
Catholic identity, academic programs, finances, enrollment and technical
"It won't be a real grade," she noted, "but
it will help each school identify areas where improvement is needed."
She emphasized that the system is not designed to compare
one school against another but to encourage growth and development in
"We will provide statistics that will show each school
how it is faring in its region or district, not how it is compared to other
Catholic schools," she noted. "We want our schools to be the best
that they can be. We will be asking the question, 'How can you improve what
you do?' As we look forward to the future, we want our schools to continue
to improve and grow."