Today's Learners. Tomorrow's Leaders.

Cardinal Mooney Bulletin for March 28th, 2021

This new era will propel us to the next chapters of greatness

Dear Parents and students,

Congratulations to those students who were inducted into the National Honor Society last week and to those inducted last year whom we were able to recognize in person. It was especially gratifying to host the induction ceremony in person and to have parents join us.

We also welcomed more members of the Class of ’25 this week. In order to commemorate this new beginning of their journey, we created a welcome video. Please take a moment to watch our students, faculty, and staff open their arms to the newest members of the Mooney Family.

They will get to chase goals like the current students who received Youngstown Rotary Scholarship awards. Congratulations to Leanne Chandler, Erik Vargo, and Steve Hiner.

The emerging spring weather also means baseball, softball, lacrosse, and track. Over the next couple months, we hope you’ll be able to come out and support our men and women Cardinals as they compete in this spring season.

After our athletes make their mark on our history, it will be time to celebrate the Class of 2021. Updates on these plans will follow spring break.

Around the state, many schools remain remote or educating in a hybrid model as COVID protocols loosen. Our own approach to the past year’s challenges has been to continue in person and look for opportunities to grow and expand. Here, I give credit to our Board of Directors, which has been guiding us with the very affirmative intention of using this moment to increase our competitive advantage in the area. To assert this kind of leadership, we must stay attentive, be aggressive, and continue to focus on advancing our students and school.

Throughout an unprecedented year, our institution continues to undergo signifigant change — in rebuilding administrative and athletic capacity and leadership; in repairing and maintaining our 65-year-old building with two skilled maintenance leaders; simplification of many processes; the initiative of renovating the Armory; laying the groundwork for a high-performance culture; and the reorganization of our block schedule.

We’ve accomplished a lot in a short period of time and have more to do. Here, the point I want to make is the need to see these pieces as part of a whole. While I recognize that so much change is difficult, it is also absolutely necessary. To reap the greatest rewards, it is essential that the transformation be carried out as one carefully articulated effort.

The institution-wide picture is this: We are very deliberately reconfiguring Cardinal Mooney in a fully integrated fashion, an approach I’ve used to turn other schools into high-performing institutions. Our efforts this year began with informal gatherings where I learned from and of our parents, students, alumni, and others.  Our accreditation is a continuous learning process that Mooney uses to self-assess and improve. Our Board required principal Dr. Mary Anne Beiting and I to conduct a formal evaluation of all departments.  Though not a formal strategic plan, it does address our academic plan. That  is supported by our financial plan, which helps to drive the physical plan. All of this is enabling us to prepare for the future, to look forward to the possible, and to take advantage of our resources.

Accomplishing comprehensive change concurrently ensures that Mooney’s progress accelerates an institution, instead of incremental starts and stops.

I acknowledge that the cumulative effect of so much change can be daunting. And at times, especially under COVID, we’ve caused stress. Yet I find Mooney to be a healthy and increasingly strengthening institution capable of leading. With the support from alumni and friends, Mooney can be unique in its ability to remake itself for the future. And we are doing so deliberately, thoughtfully, and always with our founding principles in mind: to extend and ensure an enduring Catholic educational opportunity to our sons and daughters.

While each one of our initiatives this year is worthy of even deeper introspection, I want to examine the benefits of our new AB block schedule, which will be implemented next school year.

Moving to our enhanced block schedule will keep the longer class periods, while allowing students to experience a greater variety of what they are learning. This will also eliminate gaps in sequential courses, so deeper learning and mastery can be achieved.

To enhance opportunities Cardinal Mooney provides, the AB block will provide great potential to add programming. Physical education for athletes and non-athletes; STEM like GIS, robotics, pre-engineering, research, and 3D printing; choir, and possible co-opts/internships.

Students and teachers will also have much more time to collaborate.

There are three main areas that help frame our decision to move to the AB block schedule.

The AB block will maximize our resources

The first, is the efficient use of resources. As President of Cardinal Mooney I’m obligated to be a good steward of the human and financial resources entrusted to me to maximize student performance. Too often in the education debate, the meaning of efficiency has been turned into something unpleasant and counterproductive. Efficiency does not mean cost cutting. Nor does it mean reducing education to an assembly-line based on procedures certified as efficient. What it does mean is that educators should measure both the costs and benefits of various approaches to education and to choose the approach that maximizes benefits over costs. Too often, by contrast the benefits of a plan are often assumed rather than systematically measured, and little effort is made to compare the potential net benefits of programs competing for limited resources. Bad programs are allowed to continue, siphoning off resources that could be productively deployed to improve student performance.

The AB Block keeps us on the edge of innovation

Secondly, schools ought to strive for continuous learning and adaptation.  One lesson I’ve learned running schools is that those that failed to learn systematically from their experience get into trouble. No matter how successful or unsuccessful strategic plans are, schools will always face the challenge of improving. Without mechanisms or procedures for managing a continuous process of improvement, schools have no way of discovering which programs work and which do not; they have no way for promoting the good programs or weeding out the bad. In other professions and businesses there are constant efforts to improve.  I believe schools ought to do the same.

The AB block will frame tangible goals

Finally, we must develop performance incentives.  Educators and students should be rewarded for actions that improve their performance. Education is too complex an endeavor to manage by rote, or by curricula and rules handed down by the state or by faculty handbooks that dictate every minute of every day.  We can’t be a 21st. century school with a 20th century reward system. To create such incentives, schools must define both goals and measures of progress toward promoting student achievement. One of my goals is to be able to show parents real achievements gains – year over year for both the individual student and in the aggregate.

 

– Cardinal Mooney President, Tom Maj

 

Click here to download our full March 28, 2021 bulletin (PDF Format)