.- The Office of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago unveiled on Monday Genesis: A New Beginning for Catholic Schools, a strategic plan for enhancing the Catholic identity, academic excellence and vitality of Catholic schools in Cook and Lake counties.
As presented by Nicholas Wolsonovich, Ph.D., superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago, the multi-year Genesis plan seeks to build on the academic strengths of the Catholic school system in the Archdiocese – already the “best school system in Cook and Lake counties,” said Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago -- by proposing new methods for enhancing faith development and a new model for the structure of school funding. Specifically, the plan includesnew directions and ongoing goals that will help modify school governance, improve instruction, strengthen curriculum, increase professional development for faculty and administrators and utilize networks of educators and other constituencies.
“Over the years, Catholic schools have done a marvelous job educating the young people of the Archdiocese,” said Wolsonovich. “At the same time, we see significant challenges that might affect the way we serve the youth of the Archdiocese, particularly in the area of our schools’ financial viability.
Genesis is designed to help us meet those challenges -- and it calls for greater involvement by laity to support our Catholic school children.”Furthering Catholic identity and academic excellence “Years ago, faith-training for Catholic school teachers was never a concern because schools were staffed predominantly by women and men religious who had been formed in the faith by their respective religious congregations,” noted Wolsonovich. “Today, lay people in the schools have taken on that role, and so the Genesis plan calls for the establishment of a new framework to assist our schools, faculty and staff to pass on our faith to new generations.” Genesis provides opportunities for all teachers to be certified in religion education.
Genesis also calls for the development of a new religion curriculum and its implementation in grades K-12. That religion curriculum will be assessed through the use of a standardized test. As part of its effort to further academic excellence, Genesis calls also for the system-wide implementation of newly developed curricula in language arts, fine arts and social studies in 2006 and 2007. New mathematics, science and health curricula were introduced in 2005.
An additional Genesis goal designed to enhance academic excellence calls for greater inclusion within the regular education classroom of students of varying abilities and learning needs and styles. This effort will continue a commitment to inclusive education furthered by the establishment of two Archdiocesan Centers for Inclusive Education.