Green Bay Catholic Education System (GRACE), Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College, Commit to Pre-K through College Collaboration

 Goal is to Create World Class Catholic Education in Greater Green Bay

Three Catholic educational organizations have joined forces to grow Catholic education in the Greater Green Bay area from early childhood through college. Leaders of Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE), Notre Dame Academy, and St. Norbert College have come together to advance their common goals.  

The region has a long history of Catholic education dating back to the late 19th century. Today’s leaders of the pre-K – 8th grade through college institutions say honoring that history and tradition by partnering is how they will further propel the educational experience for their students—seeking to create what they call world-class Catholic education, right here in the Greater Green Bay area.

“By coming together in dialogue we are finding ways to help one another in providing exceptional faith-based educational experiences for our students,” said Rev. Dane Radecki, O. Praem., president of GRACE who initiated the collaboration.

Specifically, GRACE, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College shared today how their commitment to collaborate is making possible new joint initiatives:

1.     The organizations announce the creation of CatholicLink—a two-part program designed to first link St. Norbert faculty and students with GRACE schools to intentionally create unique learning opportunities for students. Second, CatholicLink will allow for the creation of a professional learning community where the faculty of all three institutions can share educational delivery best practices with one another.

2.     Faculty or staff at GRACE, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College in addition to their current benefits, will receive at least a 50% tuition waiver for each of their children to attend any of the three organizations—regardless of which of the three they are employed.

3.     To further attract exceptional teaching talent, St. Norbert College education majors who teach in a GRACE school or Notre Dame Academy for a minimum of three years after graduating will receive a $5,000 grant after completing the three year commitment.

4.     The three institutions will collaborate in sharing knowledge and expertise in admissions, marketing, fundraising, alumni relations, athletics and professional education.


Why the Collaboration?

“It just makes sense for us to share our collective talents for the benefit of our students,” said Tom Kunkel, president of St. Norbert College. “We have outstanding Catholic schools in this area. We believe it’s time more people experience the transformational nature of having outstanding educational delivery within a faith-based environment, right here in Green Bay.”

“We are committed to partnering to educate more students who are prepared to make ethical decisions in our ever changing society. We not only equip our students with the best in math, science, technology, and languages but also with an understanding of what it means to be a person of faith,” said Rev. Radecki, a Norbertine priest who throughout his career served as a vice president for St. Norbert College, president for Notre Dame Academy and is currently president of GRACE.  

Paul Schneider, a parent of students at Notre Dame Academy and Resurrection School, a GRACE pre-k through 8th grade institution said, “This collaboration gives my children an opportunity to have the very best in teachers and educational experiences. Further, this helps ensure the return on investment of my financial commitment to their education.”


Introducing CatholicLink

CatholicLink will focus on the collaboration of student-teachers, student volunteers and faculty at all levels of Catholic education in the Greater Green Bay area.  

“The test scores at the elementary levels are outstanding—in fact well above national norms—throughout the GRACE system,” says Dr. Jeff Frick, academic vice president and dean of the college at St. Norbert. “The schools are already very strong but we are excited to begin a collaboration between the St. Norbert College faculty, our student-teachers, and the faculty and administration at GRACE to further enhance the educational opportunities for the children in the GRACE learning environments and it benefits our student-teachers and our joint faculty and staff as well.”  

Beginning in the fall of 2015, faculty at St. Matthew School, Resurrection Catholic School, St. Thomas More and St. Norbert College will explore ways to enhance learning opportunities to best equip students with 21st Century skills within a service-learning framework. Over time, more schools will be added into the program. 

Kay Franz, principal at both St. Matthew and Resurrection shared some specifics.  “One example is that we will partner through our World Languages program to have St. Norbert College students as conversation partners to create more opportunity for practicing their foreign language skills,” said Franz. “Another example is that we will partner with St. Norbert College education majors to become a part of our before and after-school programs, math tutors, or help us create extended reading-lab experiences.” 

In addition, CatholicLink will create a venue for intentional sharing of best practices in educational delivery. “We have an outstanding group of faculty in the St. Norbert College teacher education department. We also have outstanding educators at GRACE and Notre Dame.  We look forward to engaging more formally so we can learn from each other as we seek to provide the best in Catholic education,” said Franz.


Tuition Reduction for all Faculty and Staff

Each of the Catholic organizations has long offered their own faculty and staff some type of tuition benefit, and what is currently offered will remain. But now, families who work at any of the three will receive a tuition reduction at all schools—not just the one they work for.

·         Those who work at GRACE will receive 50% tuition waiver at any GRACE school, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College.

·         Those who work at Notre Dame Academy will receive a 100% tuition waiver at Notre Dame and 50% tuition waiver at any GRACE school and St. Norbert College.

·         Those who work at St. Norbert College will receive 100% tuition waiver at St. Norbert, and 50% tuition waiver at any GRACE school and Notre Dame Academy. 

“This is our way of further incentivizing those who believe in and advance our collective Catholic, educational mission,” said Kunkel.

“We are working hard to further develop our benefit packages for faculty and staff,” said Bill Micksch, chair of the GRACE board of trustees. This past year the board announced an additional step toward increasing salaries. “Offering tuition waivers is yet another part of our collective commitment to recruit and retain top principals, teachers and staff.”  


Catholic Teacher Education Grant

To help encourage more St. Norbert College teacher education graduates to apply and work within the GRACE system or at Notre Dame Academy, a grant has been created for St. Norbert College education majors. The grant, in the amount of $5,000, will be awarded to those who commit to teaching in a GRACE school or Notre Dame Academy for a minimum of three years after graduating.

“Our objective is to encourage more young professionals to help grow our Catholic schools,” said Kevin Shaw, president of Notre Dame Academy, who is also a St. Norbert College graduate. “We hope more St. Norbert alumni will stay in the Green Bay area to share their gifts and faith in a teaching environment that is consistent with their values, like Notre Dame Academy.”

The grant will be distributed to teachers by their employer after they have completed a three-year teaching commitment. It is made possible by the generous contribution of an anonymous donor committed to Catholic education.


Shared Expertise

The three institutions have also said they will collaborate to share knowledge and expertise in various administrative areas needed to advance their enrollments, operations, and efficiencies. 

“We can all gain from knowing more about how we are recruiting and sharing the benefits of our schools,” said Ed Lamm, vice president of enrollment management and communications at St. Norbert College. “Certainly one school’s success leads to the others’ potential for enrollment growth. And certainly the same holds true with alumni and donor engagement, athletics, and many other areas that are essential in recruiting students.”  


What’s Next?

This collaboration—bringing together Catholic educators from pre-K through college is one that will be continued, say the joint leaders of GRACE, Notre Dame Academy and St. Norbert College. 

“We have a shared interest in growing our schools, and furthering Catholic education,” said Kunkel. “This, we believe, is just the beginning of what we’ll do together. For example, St. Norbert has long stood by its 4-year graduation guarantee and we know some Notre Dame Academy students who come here actually finish in 3.5 years or less due to IB, AP or college credit classes. We’d like to talk more about how we might partner to build the curricular requirements necessary to help Notre Dame students finish at St. Norbert faster—thereby further adding value to their investment in Catholic education. So stay tuned for more on that as this collaboration continues.”

“We are committed to further conversation about raising the bar for our students and providing world-class Catholic education pre-k through life,” said Radecki. “We have all of the right ingredients to be simply exceptional. And our mission calls us to aim high.”

The Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) System has 10 schools that provide excellence in 3K-8th grade education and serves the 23 Catholic parishes within the Greater Green Bay community. GRACE schools range in offerings and locations, and each has its own distinct history, focus and parish connections. GRACE is the largest Catholic school system in the state of Wisconsin.

Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic high school in Green Bay, Wisconsin that embraces an over 100-year Catholic tradition of excellent learning within a caring, faith-filled community. Students across the region, as well as internationally, attend the school and hold a 99% college admission and attendance rate.

The only Norbertine college in the world, St. Norbert is a four-year, Catholic liberal arts college, devoted to the Norbertine traditions of community, prayer and service to others. Founded in 1898 by Abbot Bernard Pennings, the residential campus today serves approximately 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students from throughout the United States and more than 30 countries, and offers study-abroad opportunities in 29 countries. The academic excellence of the college is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges.

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