CINCINNATI, – (CNS) Nearly 5,000 Catholic school educators and administrators attended the National Catholic Educational Association Convention and Expo at the Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati April 3-5. Among them were about two dozen educators and administrators from the Diocese of Jackson.
The three-day convention was filled with workshops dealing with how to help students write more creatively or tackle math concepts, use modern technology safely and live their faith in the modern world, but it also examined constant challenges and a way forward for educators and Catholic education at large.In the opening session, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, encouraged educators from around the country to continue in their role as missionaries and evangelists.
He urged the convention delegates to take to heart what the pope has said about education, primarily to always place the heart of the Gospel in their ministry and to see the importance of their work as evangelization, not just with students but parents and in dialogue with the larger world.
“You are forming young people for service to the church and society,” he told them.
In a keynote address, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, similarly echoed the pope’s call for missionary disciples and how it applies to teachers at Catholic schools and religious education programs.
A highlight of the event was the exhibition hall that featured more than 260 educational products and services, including cutting-edge technology.
Meridian St. Patrick School principal Montse Frias said the vendors were one of many highlights from the trip. “At every one of the sessions I attended, I learned something,” said Frias. She said she paid special attention to the sessions on improving recruitment and creating an effective work environment. “I loved the session on tools to help a principal work more efficiently. The leader had been a principal who became a director of communications. I learned a lot of strategies from him,” she said.
Karla Luke, assistant superintendent for Catholic Schools in the diocese, said she came home invigorated and ready to integrate what she learned into her work.
During the convention, awards were presented to individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to Catholic education through innovation, advocacy, outreach and sheer dedication. Distinguished teachers, principals, pastors, presidents and superintendents were also honored.
Thomas Burnford, president and CEO of NCEA, described the annual convention as “three days packed with professional development for teachers, principals, pastors and superintendents who educate and form nearly 2 million Catholic school students in the United States.”
(Maureen Smith, editor of Mississippi Catholic, contributed to this story.)