August 22, 2023  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

— Innovative programs transform Catholic education and ensure vibrant Catholic schools, leaders, and students for present and future generations —                                                                    

Catholic schools across the tri-County Archdiocese of Los Angeles are welcoming students back to school at its 250 elementary and high schools in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties serving over 68,000 students. Founded in 1851, Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese provide faith-based education where students receive tools for success in college and in their future careers and are focused on a commitment to service to their local and global communities with innovative programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), leadership development for students, teachers and principals, dual-language immersion (Spanish and Mandarin), micro-schools, and early college programs.  

“We are excited to embark on this new school year,” said Paul Escala, Senior Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “We’re coming into this year with two previous years of student enrollment growth – the largest in 30 years, we’ve seen renewed commitment from our philanthropic community to assist students with tuition assistance, modernization of several campuses, and new leaders who will lead our schools into the future.”

In addition to the programs mentioned above, the Onward Programs, through the generosity of the John H. and Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation, are committed to the support and development of exemplary Catholic school leaders, teachers and students. These include the: Onward Leaders ProgramThe Onward Scholars ProgramOnward ReadersOnward4ExcellenceOnward2HighSchool, and Onward4Educators.

During the 2023-2023 school year, several new principals completed their residency through the Onward Leaders Program which provides a unique one-year program for select resident principals from both within and outside of the Archdiocese to develop knowledge and skills of leadership competencies in Catholic identity, academic excellence, governance and leadership, and operational vitality. The Onward Leaders Program started in 2015 and includes 7 cohorts of educators with diverse ethnic backgrounds and levels of experience. Since the program’s inception, 100% of resident principals continue to serve in education across the nation; 88% of those leaders serve in Catholic education across the nation; 76% currently serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in multiple capacities and 68% remain as elementary school principals in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The current cohort of resident principals are working together to develop knowledge and skills under the guidance of the Onward Leaders Team which works with each resident principal to design an individual learning path around the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. They meet bimonthly as a cohort to build collective capacity and work collaboratively to problem-solve real issues. They are immersed in authentic learning experiences based on the needs of their school community. Mentor Principals coach and guide resident principals on a one-to-one basis on all pillars of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools. During the residency year, they work in tandem to move the school toward achieving set goals.

The Onward 4 Excellence program provides targeted support in curriculum, instruction, and academic assessment for elementary and high schools teachers offering a range of professional development to build the capacity of teachers to improve student learning and to use data to inform instruction and measure growth. Onward 4 Excellence supports new teachers and helps them identify what it means to be a professional educator in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles through the lens of the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools.

The Onward Scholars Program, established in 2009, provides high-achieving students with comprehensive support including scholarship, mentorship, and access to the nation’s best universities. Each scholar is given a $2,000 stipend to explore personal and career interests. The program covers 75% of the tuition at six of its participating schools: Cathedral High School, Salesian High School, Sacred Heart High School, St. Mary’s Academy, St Pius X St Matthias Academy, and St. Anthony’s High School. Each school has a director on-site that provides one-on-one mentoring in academics and college counseling, career support and leadership development. The program also sponsors a college trip during their junior year to colleges and universities. Most recently scholars participated in the Rensselaer Summer Engineering Design program and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles 2023 Summer Camp while others took advanced Math and Science courses. Scholarships are annually awarded to 12 incoming 9th graders at each school. One hundred percent of graduating scholars go on to college.

The Onward programs are made possible through the support of The John H. and Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation through its partnership with the Department of Catholic Schools in various programs that benefit students, teachers, principals, and staff.

Catholic schools rely on contributions and other support to keep tuition low, so that all students have a benefit. This year, the Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) granted more than 15,000 tuition awards with a $21 million budget to students in financial need in over 200 of the 250 archdiocesan schools. In addition, CEF has awarded an additional 2,500 newly enrolled students this school year with the New Enrollment Initiative (NEI 2.0) funded by an anonymous donor. Tuition assistance continues to be available for newly enrolled students.   

To learn more about the Department of Catholic Schools visit https://lacatholicschools.org and visit https://lacatholics.org/weseeyou/ for teaching opportunities at a Catholic school.

About the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

Under the spiritual leadership of Archbishop José H. Gomez, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest in the United States, serving the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara, covering approximately 9,000 square miles in 120 cities. The nearly 5 million Catholics in the Archdiocese come from some 70 countries and from every continent. Weekly Masses are celebrated in 42 languages throughout 288 parishes, and more than 68,000 students attend an Archdiocesan Catholic elementary or high school. For the latest news, events and to subscribe for media alerts, visit media.la-archdiocese.org

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