The Catholic School Region of the Northwest/South Bronx enjoyed another year of dynamism and success, with the continued deployment and augmentation of the Pontifex Program.
The Pontifex Program, designed to “build bridges’ between and amongst high schools, universities, and elementary schools, has expanded its relationship with the Fordham University Jesuit Scholastic Service Program in several schools, and has begun a robust new relationship with the Fordham University Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP), affording NWS Bronx students the opportunity to attend a prestigious Saturday and summer academy focused on science and technology.
The overarching program has also expanded its relationship with the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem, which was launched at the 2019 eighth grade regional graduation Mass at Cardinal Hayes High School. In keeping with the region’s center point on Catholic identity, this relationship seeks to instruct students about the trajectory of service throughout history, started by the knights and dames as a mechanism to protect the faith and promote positive social change. Together with the region’s “Respect Life Day Challenge,” students are asked to think about and enact ways in which to serve through action. Together with the Military Archdiocese of the United States, in 2020, students and leaders will begin a comprehensive new service-based relationship with the Catholic War Veterans of the United States, commencing with a mass of thanksgiving on Memorial Day.
Academically, the Northwest/South Bronx has once again seen an increase in state test scores in both Mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA), and shows substantive growth on MAP testing, primarily due to the concentration on grouping, data-driven instruction, and academic enrichment plans put into place by teachers and principals in order to reach each child on his or her own level. This is where the commitment to a one-child-at-a-time approach proves its value.
Programs that have been initiated or expanded in order to effectuate this growth have included blended learning, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum and afterschool enrichment programs in various schools, each geared toward maximizing the unique gifts and talents of each individual student, while concentrating on each school community’s local needs and interests. These include a robust chess program at our Lady of Refuge School, STEM laboratory at St. John School-Kingsbridge, an enhanced drama and art program at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, and a burgeoning dance program at St. Philip Neri School.
In terms of ongoing professional development, new principals in the Northwest/South Bronx have continued to participate, together with the Regional Superintendent (RS), in the Magis Principal Mentoring Initiative, at which time principals meet with the RS and other staff members to continue ongoing formation as new leaders throughout the course of the year.
Together with the Quad Region Principals’ Professional Learning Community, which is focused on supporting teachers and principals in the teaching/learning process, this initiative has sought to develop and cultivate leaders within our system for the foreseeable future.