Exciting School Year Ahead for Students, Superintendent Says

By Colleen Rowan and Tim Bishop

WHEELING—Students from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s 27 Catholic schools have headed back to the classroom, “an exiting time for principals, teachers and students alike,” said Vincent de Paul Schmidt, diocesan superintendent of schools.

Schmidt said the students can expect to come back to a classroom filled with new ideas and programs designed to enhance learning, making Schmidt excited for the start of the school year. “I have been lucky enough,” he said, “to be the superintendent for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston for three years. I have never been more excited about a school year, because all of the hard work by all of the principals and teachers for the last two years is coming to fruition with some of the most inventive and inspiring planning I have ever seen in this school system.”

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Tim Bishop Photo

Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Vincent de Paul Schmidt, back row left, and Father Dennis R. Schuelkens, Jr., pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish, join students from Our Lady of Peace School and their principal, C’Ann Reilly, back row right, at the school’s kick-off event “Mission Possible” at the Ohio County Airport Aug. 30.

The Department of Catholic Schools is also evaluating programs this school year that were initiated last year, such as Think Through Math, an online math program for students in second through eighth grades that provides hands on math tutorial programming and hands on math enrichment programming linked to the level of the student in the classroom.

Another initiative that began last year was a programming shift dealing with systemic financial management of all 27 schools throughout the diocese. Last year, every school began using CathoNet, which is a real time financial management software that works with a tuition collection software called FACTS that allows the schools to better forecast, better track and better budget all of the students and all of the monies going in and out of the school.

For parents there is a program entitled “My Student’s Progress,” which is an online student information system that allows parents access to their children’s grades, homework, missing assignments and other important academic information. The program also works with the diocese’s system to manage data and statistical information from schools, such as teachers, how long they have been there and their certification level to how many students are enrolled in the schools and demographics.

Toward the end of this school year, every teacher in the diocese’s Catholic schools will be afforded the opportunity to hone their professional skills at the National Catholic Education Association Conference, which will be held in Pittsburgh after Easter. Schmidt said that all of the diocese’s teachers will be attending the conference.

Schmidt was on hand Aug. 30 to help students from Our Lady of Peace School in Wheeling fly into the new school year during a kick-off event called “Mission Possible.”

The event started with Mass celebrated by Father Dennis R. Schuelkens, Jr., pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish. Following the Mass, students were bussed to the Ohio County Airport, where they were surprised to see a helicopter carrying Father Dennis and Schmidt. Once on the ground, Schmidt and Father Schuelkens presented school principal, C’Ann Reilly, with a mission of “PEACE” for the students. In the mission, “P” is for prayer; “E” is to be encouraging and to set an example; “A” is to achieve academic excellence; “C” is for community, commitment and covenant; and “E” is for having esteem for ourselves and others.

Following the presentation, Father Dennis worked the students into a cheering frenzy and ran through the crowd high-fiving the students. Reilly said the event was a great way to get the students energized for the year and show them that their mission of learning is possible.

Schmidt said the event was a great way for Our Lady of Peace School to get the year started. He told the students that he was excited for their school as he is for each school in the diocese.

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