Ambassador's Fund for Catholic Education
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Sophia Institute for Teachers
Grant: $49,200, funded in each of 2018-19 and 2019-20; Joining Grant of $10,000, funded in the same years
National surveys of religion teachers in Catholic schools – the frontline soldiers of Catholic education – reveal a strong hunger to teach the faith. Most of these teachers, however, recognize a need for increased knowledge, resources, and training to better equip them for this critical role. Over the years, teachers within the Philadelphia archdiocesan elementary and secondary schools have expressed similar desires for better teaching but reservations about their foundational resources to do so.
Introduce a comprehensive, targeted, and challenging workshop program for elementary school teachers and secondary school teachers, respectively. Provide catechetical, theological, and pedagogical training to teachers at both levels that grounds them in substantive, engaging, and useful content along with stimulating research-based and classroom-tested teaching strategies. Engage the Sophia Institute for Teachers to create and present tailored professional development programs for 1,250 elementary school religion teachers over two years ($49,200 each year) and for 200 secondary school religion/theology teachers over the same two years ($10,000 each year).
The full-day workshops, each led by a team composed of a catechetical scholar — who is generally a theology and catechetics professor — and a master teacher, strengthened participants’ understanding of the Church’s teachings, provided them with teaching strategies for incorporating this knowledge into the classroom, and equipped them with classroom-ready instructional materials. Teachers received additional follow-up resources on an ongoing basis. Among the participants, on average, 98% reported they learned new content, 95% gained valuable teaching strategies, and 98% expressed increased confidence in teaching the faith. Scholars and master teachers scored an average 9.3 out of 10. Seven out of 10 participating teachers said these workshops were the best professional development programs they ever attended.
“I’ve been to so many retreats in my years of teaching and none of them compared with this” … “awesome presentations!” … “best professional development program I’ve ever attended” … great ideas for lessons, good materials” … “inspired & renewed in my mission and role as a Catholic educator.”
Participating Teachers (sample anonymous evaluations)