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Blog: St Mary's Academics Present at Leading International Leadership Summit on Catholic Education

Two academics from St Mary’s University, Twickenham recently joined leading academics at the National Catholic Education Association Leadership Summit

Two academics from St Mary’s University, Twickenham recently joined leading academics at the National Catholic Education Association Leadership Summit in Atlanta, USA. Head of the School of Education, Theology, and Leadership (ETL) Dr Maureen Glackin and Programme Director for MA Catholic School Leadership Dr John Lydon joined the Summit, which focused on all features of the leadership and management of Catholic schools, colleges and Higher Education Institutions, concentrating particularly on all aspects of technological innovations to the significance of culture and charism. Dr Glackin and Dr Lydon’s presentation was created around a pioneering programme developed by them for the Kent Catholic School Partnership. Entitled Shepherding Talent, potential leaders identified by their schools are challenged to explore their vocation to lead in both Primary and Secondary school settings. Through workshops, the mission of the Catholic educator is elucidated alongside a consideration of personal disposition and values, inviting a critically reflective response to leadership. This interplay and its impact formed the focus of the presentation during which the notion that vocation and profession are both aspects of Christian discipleship constituted a permeating theme. The exploration of disposition and values proved to elicit a great deal of interest among delegates resulting in fruitful discussions with a range of academics and Diocesan leaders, referred to in the USA as Superintendents. Beyond the presentation, contacts were made with the heads of Catholic School Leadership programmes in several USA Universities including Creighton, St Louis, Fordham and Loyola Marymount Los Angeles. It is hoped that these will prove to be fruitful in the context of the development of the Centre for Research and Development in Catholic Education which is due to move to St Mary’s from the UCL Institute of Education. The Summit explored concepts that are particularly relevant to the work of ETL, including Professor Tim Cook’s cultivating school charism and Dr Ron Nuzzi’s talk Strengthening the Spiritual Leadership Role of Diocesan School Leaders: Modeling and Measuring Catholic Identity which had resonances with the Section 48 framework of inspection for denominational schools in the England & Wales. The presentation by Sr John Mary Fleming OP, Executive Director of the Secretariat of Catholic Education was reassuring in that several of the challenges facing Catholic education in the USA replicate those in the UK including the spiritual formation of future Catholic leaders and teachers. The keynote address of David Coleman, President and Chief Executive Officer, The College Board, created to expand access to Higher Education in the USA, was particularly significant for all involved in Religious Education. Referring to the distinctive and powerful role of religious institutions like St Mary’s Coleman spoke of the value of productive solitude and stillness, restful excellence and the reverent reading of shared texts. Coleman then went on to speak of the opportunity gap between rich and poor and the way in which his organisation endeavoured to address this. Ensuring that students claim the opportunities they have earned constituted the mantra of this part of his address, opportunities which would hopefully lead to a renewed commitment to the common good. Drs Glackin and Lydon came away from the summit empowered by the acknowledgement of the vibrancy of Shepherding Talent in the context of leadership formation and determined to develop further links with contact made with colleagues from the USA in order to contribute to the international outreach of St Mary’s.  

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