2015 - 2016 Annual Message
Dr. Melanie B. Verges, Superintendent
Thank you for your interest in the ministry of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. In support of schools, the Catholic Schools Office serves principals, pastors, and board members in their work, and we are grateful for the commitment of staff members who bring incredible talent and skill to that service. Life teaches us to expect “…the best of times and the worst of times,” and the past two years have been ones in which both joy and sadness were experienced. The delight of working with a volunteer task force to plan the expansion of services to families in need of special education for their children filled the diocese with hope and happiness, while the sadness of coming to a decision to close Redemptorist High School brought heartbreak to many, especially students and alumni. Through all, we trust in God’s grace and are thankful for the leadership of our boards and committees that provide advice. The Gift of the Holy Spirit is evident in the generosity of spirit and goodness of the many people involved in the ministry of Catholic education!
Catholic identity remained primary in the Diocese of Baton Rouge Catholic schools. Faith knowledge, as evidenced by The Assessment of Catechesis and Religious Education (ACRE), continued to be strong, as verified by above-average scores in all domains. Additionally, schools reported almost 500,000 hours of service in conjunction with school programs. Such knowledge and action connected to faith indicates that Catholic schools Evangelize Hearts!
Utilizing the Rigor, Relevance & Relationship Program within accreditation guidelines, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Baton Rouge continually strived for improvement and involvement of staff and board members. Teachers and administrators participated in professional development, with approximately 35,000 hours of professional development coordinated through the Catholic Schools Office during the past two years. Likewise, members on diocesan and local school boards participated in professional development by attending the required orientation workshops to improve their role as advisors and the board retreats.
As a nationally accredited district, Catholic schools collaborated within the continuous improvement cycle. Schools reviewed improvement goals annually and adjusted them based on student growth data. TerraNova test data for elementary and middle school students in the diocese continued to indicate exceptional performance and outstanding growth. For high school students, the American College Testing (ACT) results over the past five years have reflected a positive trend in the Diocese of Baton Rouge, with increased college readiness in English, mathematics, reading, and science, and the ACT results continued to be above both national and state averages.
Catholic schools in our diocese certainly Educate Minds in service to students in their care! School leaders recently added Encouraging Talent to the vision and mission for schools in the diocese to reflect the importance of developing the full potential of students. Music, art, drama, sports, clubs, and other co-curricular and extra-curricular programs have always been part of the educational programs in the Diocese of Baton Rouge. With the recent update to the mission statement, school leaders are clarifying the development of talent as a focus of the educational ministry.
The schools in our diocese are blessed to have the leadership of Bishop Robert W. Muench, who supports and celebrates the work of the schools, and priests, who nurture the ministry of education within their parishes. Always relying on the Holy Spirit, we are grateful look forward to continuing success in the future!