Taking a Leadership Role
SJU Partners with Maguire Foundation, Archdiocese of Philadelphia to Bolster the Future of Catholic Education
Improving educational access across the scholastic spectrum was one of a number of ways James J. Maguire ’58 and his wife Frannie aimed to improve people’s quality of life when they founded their Maguire Foundation. In the past five years, that commitment has been illustrated through a flourishing partnership between the foundation and Saint Joseph’s University.
Saint Joseph’s was the first University to offer the Maguire Scholars program, through which the foundation provides scholarship support for more than 300 students at 28 partner colleges and universities. The Scholars program provides assistance along the entire educational spectrum, from elementary school through college. At SJU, the foundation has also supported the Alliance for Catholic Education at Saint Joseph’s University (ACESJU) program, Maguire High School Scholars Leadership program and Maguire Academy of Risk Management Scholars program. Most recently, the foundation partnered with the University and Archdiocese of Philadelphia on the Maguire Educational Leadership Fellows Program.
The accelerated, hybrid 36-credit hour program launched in January with a cohort of 18 fellows is designed for leaders and aspiring leaders who hold or wish to hold key positions in Catholic schools in which they can engage in reform and transformation in a variety of settings. Program graduates earn master’s degrees in educational leadership, state principal certifications and commit to staying at their schools for at least another three years after finishing the program.
Fellow Donald Holdren is the chair of the Fine Arts Department at Mount Saint Joseph Academy in Flourtown, Pa., and musical director for the school’s fall musical productions; this year’s is “Footloose.” The married father of three carries a robust load of music-related courses and conducts the Mount’s Glee Club and vocal ensemble Sweet Madelines. But Holdren wants to do more – embrace the magis – for his family, his school, his Catholic faith and the future of Catholic education.
“I’ve been interested in school administration, especially curriculum and instruction for a while,” said Holdren, who has a master’s degree in music from Washington University. Thanks to the persistence of Mount Principal Dr. Judith Caviston and a feeling “that the Holy Spirit was moving me,” he applied to the new Maguire Educational Leadership Fellows program at Saint Joseph’s University.
The program’s emphasis on emerging leadership emanates from the diocese’s desire to develop a succession plan to prepare the next generation of Catholic high school teachers to replace the outgoing principals and presidents for its secondary schools. Numerous studies have tied school administrators’ leadership to student success.
“Educating the next generation of Catholic educational leaders is a critical element to impacting student achievement,” — A. William Place, Ph.D.
“Included among our 2,000 Maguire Scholars are more than 500 high school students in the Archdiocesan and independent Catholic high schools,” said Maguire Foundation Executive Director Amy Holdsman. “We want to ensure they are attending high quality schools by investing in the school’s leadership, with a full understanding that a school is only as good as its leadership team.”
With courses including “Educational Leadership and Human Resource Development,” “Administration, Organizational Culture and Planned Change” and “Educational Leader as Researcher and Reflective Practitioner/Catholic School Pedagogy” fellows (who were recruited from 17 Philadelphia Catholic Secondary Schools and five independent preparatory and high schools within the diocese) will be prepared to lead their schools in a more effective manner.
“Educating the next generation of Catholic educational leaders is a critical element to impacting student achievement,” said SJU Professor and Educational Leadership Chair A. William Place, Ph.D. “We’ve started down the road of strengthening Catholic education in Philadelphia through leadership training meshing new national educational leadership standards which focus on caring – a strength of Catholic schools – with Catholic Jesuit concepts like cura personalis and magis. We are grateful for the generosity, leadership, entrepreneurial spirit and partnership of the Maguire Foundation in understanding the need this program fills for the future of Catholic education in our city and region.”
For Holdren, stretching himself by pursuing another master’s degree boils down to what’s best for his students.
“Catholic education is crucial because of its focus on the dignity and promise of every child,” he said. “Catholic schools focus on relationships as well as academics. I hope to use the tools I’ve gained at Saint Joseph’s to make a positive impact on my classroom, department and school community.”
– By Kevin Kaufman
Maguire Foundation-Supported Programs at Saint Joseph’s University
Maguire Scholars – Now in its sixth year, this scholarship provides partial tuition support for incoming freshmen from Maguire Foundation partner high schools. Students must meet specific academic requirements, demonstrate financial need and be engaged in community service and/or extracurricular activities. This year, there are 14 SJU Maguire Scholars.
Alliance for Catholic Education at SJU – Launched in 2010, this innovative two-year service program provides recent college graduates the opportunity to serve as full-time teachers and administrators in under-resourced Catholic schools in low-income, urban communities in Philadelphia, Chester, Pa., and Camden, N.J., while earning a master’s degree and teaching certificate.
Maguire High School Scholars Leadership Program – A partnership among SJU, Drexel and Widener, this program for Maguire High School Scholars is designed to develop students’ leadership skills and is based on Jim Maguire’s “6 Steps to Success” featured in his 2010 book Just Show Up Every Day.
Maguire Academy of Risk Management Scholars Program – This scholarship provides financial support for rising juniors and seniors majoring in risk management and insurance or actuarial science.