Dr. Mary McDonald, the former superintendent of the Diocese of Memphis and founder of the iconic Jubilee School Network, joined me on the Catholic School Matters podcast (Episode #52).  When McDonald and her team worked to re-open shuttered inner-city Catholic schools, she took a deliberate, patient approach.  They re-opened one school a year, one grade at a time.  That way, they could build the school culture one cohort at a time.  Their attention to school culture is also present in their parent contract which spells out expectations for parents and for schools.  This agreement is far beyond a financial agreement—it spells out the demands on parents (allowing time for homework, getting students to school in time, etc).

McDonald also found a way to discuss the success of the Jubilee Schools:

  1. On the individual level, they pay attention to student achievement and growth. They are able to measure the individual successes and are deliberate about publicizing these successes.
  2. On the local level the revitalized Catholic schools have given inner-city Memphis hope and have also been a source of civic pride. They have also spurred innovation in the public and private sector.
  3. On the national level, the Jubilee Schools have inspired other dioceses to embark on efforts to save or revitalize their inner-city schools.

I can’t underscore enough the impact of Jubilee Schools and the leadership of McDonald.  Listen to her here directly or on iTunes.