Giovanni Virgiglio is the diocesan chancellor and superintendent of schools.
Giovanni Virgiglio is the diocesan chancellor and superintendent of schools.

A wide-eyed kindergarten student entering class on a bright, sunny September morning. A team of sixth-graders in the science lab using a 3-D printer to build a model of a future urban city. A senior speaking at graduation about the depth of their faith and lasting friendships forged over 12 years of a Catholic education.

These moments and milestones inspire all of us in Catholic education to continually support our students. As we welcome the new calendar year, we look back with pride over the last decade, and look forward with precision “focus” on our “20/20 vision” ahead.

Families who choose a Catholic education know their children receive an exceptional education, personalized attention and a nurturing environment of respect for all. They are part of a system that boasts a 99 percent high school graduation rate (with graduates receiving $29 million in college scholarships) and provides distance learning opportunities in both elementary and high school. Our schools prepare students for the challenges of the world and the call of the Gospel, through our STREAM (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) initiatives. 

We are proud to be the first Diocese across the state to have been accredited by AdvancED, in 2016. The national accrediting board recognized our commitment to excellence, and the cohesive team approach to education spearheaded by our diocesan accreditation steering committee, the same committee that gifted us so many of our recently appointed principals and “Higher Powered Leaders.”

The accreditation is a reflection on our Catholic schools’ work toward the goals established in 2010 under the “Covenant to Educate” strategies for the future, to ensure the highest quality educational opportunities for students and smart, efficient and collaborative governing models, while imbuing a strong Catholic identity. We’re now “Answering the Call” with a set of strategic priorities tailored to today’s motivating challenges faced by our schools.  

As part of our “Higher Powered Learning” initiative, we integrated nearly $1 million in technology across classrooms by awarding grants directly to schools in each of the last seven years. Our high schools instituted strategic partnerships with Maria College and Siena College —?providing students with opportunities to take college-level classes while still in high school. 

Schools across the Diocese are thinking creatively about how best to educate tomorrow’s leaders, recognizing innovation and creativity can spark new opportunities. We also understand the importance of extracurricular activities, and we’re thrilled that the Holy Trinity football team —?comprised jointly of students from our high schools — made it all the way to the Carrier Dome in Syracuse in 2017. In many ways, this event in our schools’ storied history is as symbolic representation of the strength and resiliency that comes in working together.

With the support of Bishop Scharfenberger, the Diocesan School Board, and the individual school boards across the Diocese, we’re looking at new opportunities to increase donations while enhancing the Beacon of Hope Scholarship Fund, improve opportunities for all-encompassing prekindergarten through grade 12 learning, expand our collaborative purchasing programs, incorporate additional cooperative services, and support the great work of our amazing teachers.

We are re-imagining the definition of Catholic schooling, to meet the changing needs of families and the evolving world of education, with more strategic partnerships and unique, real-world learning opportunities. Our vision for the 2020s will not be constrained by the traditional four walls of past classrooms or models of yesteryear.

Our past successes and future goals are possible thanks to the dedication and professionalism of the faculty, staff and administrators at every school across the Diocese, and the work of the staff at the Catholic School Office. These dedicated professionals are truly living examples of “Christ the Teacher.”

Throughout the 2020s, you will see and hear more about all that our Catholic schools offer. If your child isn’t enrolled in one of our elementary or high schools yet, I invite you to visit, and learn about how Catholic education can help them succeed at life.  

They say vision with measurable action is stronger than 20/20 hindsight. Let us commit ourselves to realizing new levels of “Higher Powered Learning” in the years ahead. Our current and future students will be the beneficiaries of our noble charge.

Giovanni Virgiglio is the diocesan chancellor and superintendent of schools.