In today’s Book Blog, I dig out an oldie but a goodie: Architects of Catholic Culture: Designing and Building Catholic Culture in Catholic Schools by Dr. Timothy Cook (2001).  I can recall reading this book at least once in the past during my first principal gig.  It’s a very useful monograph which was part of NCEA’s Leadership monograph series.

Cook does a great job of defining culture as part of organization culture (“organizations are a consequence of the patterns of communication and action between human beings”) and how the attention to school culture is a best practice for a highly effective school.  He conceives of schools as communities, not institutions.  Interesting that many of the core conflicts around Catholic schools center on traditions (pointing to institutions) as opposed to their current or future realities (community).

Cook posits that principals can (and should) serve as architects of their school’s culture.  He suggests an explicit focus on building culture and offers many suggestions such as:

  1. Refer to your school as a faith community (not simply a “community”) and focus on building shared beliefs and activities which strengthen the faith community.
  2. Identify and cultivate specific Gospel values to animate your school and integrate them into your mission statement
  3. Identify and honor heroes & heroines who exemplify your school’s values
  4. Display your religious symbols
  5. Identify community rituals
  6. School communications should be imbued with your religious images and values
  7. Rediscover your schools religious and historical heritage
  8. Focus on your mission and purpose when hiring and training employees. Training should be ongoing as part of employees’ mission formation.

Read Cook’s monograph to get concrete suggestions on how to intentionally shape your school’s Catholic identity.