On my wall in my office is a prominent poster outlining Verbum Dei’s Grad-at-Grad principles.  Whenever I quickly glance up at them (every day, seemingly), I am reminded of several obvious applications which immediately seek impact with our students through the use of technology.    Certainly, I can clearly connect the benefits of technology to its enormous role in one being Work-Experienced, as well as being Intellectually Motivated.   Those are obvious.  Yet conversely, when I ponder the other values – Open to Growth, Spiritual and Loving – it seems to be more of a challenge and difficult to directly connect their attributes to technology.  That may be the case, but at Verbum Dei, we seek to mold well-rounded gentlemen ready to take on – with confidence – every hurdle tomorrow’s world will throw at them.  The value of each principle is equal and ever-lasting.  There is however one last Grad-at-Grad value that – although at first glance seems afar from our technology goals at school – actually delivers the strongest cue to what I ultimately seek to achieve for our boys at Verbum Dei.   That is, I am – as Tech Director for the school – Committed to Doing Justice for our guys.  Let me explain.

The impact of a Verbum Dei education – and the school’s ability to set afoot tomorrow’s leaders – is ultimately what our work here is judged by.  Every aspect of the school’s operations is ultimately measured by the success of our graduates and the influence they’ll make in society.  To me, the real grit of Verbum Dei’s mission is less about rescuing or accommodating lives and families in need, and more about fairness, equal footing and preparation for an ever-increasingly competitive job market.  I’m not interested in salvation so much – I’m more concerned in getting our young men ready to compete.   That’s what drives me.   In my zeal to ensure our guys will have “the skills to pay the bills,” I need to be confident in my mind we’re delivering every opportunity for them to interact and master the latest forms of technology in the classroom.  That is the Justice I’m Committed to; I feel mandated to having helped create an atmosphere of learning where – through the use of technology – we are equipping our students with the finely-honed study and research skills they’ll need down the road.  I want – and expect – our graduates to go toe-to-toe with any other student – from all communities and all social boundaries – to compete in the college classroom.  And in turn, I want – and expect – for those same young men to compete in tomorrow’s job market as well.

My mission is clear, and the constant reminder is there –every day – on my wall.   When you walk the halls of Verbum Dei on any given day, you’ll see a diverse array of technology actively integrated in each classroom.   Having an eager and intrepid group of faculty here helps this process immensely; I feel blessed to work with such gifted individuals who are willing to experiment and deploy new methods of learning.  But they can’t do it alone.  Information Technology is – at its core – a service department.  My department is here to assist our faculty and help them enhance their teaching environment.  Together, we will distinguish Verbum Dei as a superior institution which confidently builds tomorrow’s leaders.  I take my role in that process seriously – there are no choices here.   I am Committed to Doing Justice for these young men.

Hello From Corporate Work Study

I would like to thank all who have helped me transition into my role as the Vice President of Corporate Recruitment at Verbum Dei; faculty, staff, administration, board members, corporate work study partners – and students. It has been a warm welcome. I look forward to nourishing and sustaining the many long-standing partnerships already established amongst Verbum Dei and the Southern California business community – and thank you for your continued benevolence. As well, I relish the opportunity to expand our corporate partner base – so that any capable young man that desires a Verbum Dei education is ‘afforded’ one. The role of corporate recruitment at Verbum Dei is one of relationships, friendships, connections and introductions. Please never hesitate to reach out to me via email, phone – or stop by campus. I look forward to meeting you.

Taking Math to the Next Level

As the school year comes to an end, I am happy to have time to reflect on the shifts that have taken place in the math department this year.  Although there is often apprehension when parents hear the words “Common Core,” the math department has found incredible success implementing a common core math curriculum in all levels of math.

The two major focuses of the math department this year were rigor and growth mindset, which truly go hand in hand.  Students often come into our classrooms with an idea that they are just not good at math.  It is our job to help each student realize that he has the potential to learn and grow in any area he chooses, including math.  The way that we have accomplished this feat is through instruction in growth mindset.

We teach our students that the brain is a muscle that can be taught new information, that our attitude towards learning new things affects our ability to learn that mindset, and the power of the word, “yet.”  The statement, “I don’t understand this,” changes entirely when we add on that one, extremely powerful three-letter word.  Our students now say, “I don’t understand this yet,” giving themselves time to learn and recognizing that they can and will learn.

Paired with an increase in rigor, we have seen a shift in our students’ willingness to attempt challenging problems as well as an increase in their proficiency.  By teaching our students how they learn, we have allowed them to accept struggle as part of the learning process.  As our students analyze their failures, they are able to re-attempt problems in new and interesting ways.  I find myself continually impressed by the grit and hard work of our students as they learn new material.

Presenting at the OLA regional in-service in March, I had teachers from other schools come up to me and ask if we were really implementing Common Core and challenging problems at Verb, and I was proud to say that we are not only implementing, our students are improving every day.