Catholic Schools Office unveils new look, continues tradition

August 18, 2015

HOUSTON — Last month the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston unveiled a new logo and a fresh look for Catholic education. The CSO also has a new look of its own, with a revamped department structure that will help emphasize the importance of Catholic education and improve support to the respective school staffs and communities.

“We’re moving forward together,” Dr. Julie Vogel, superintendent of Catholic Schools, said of the CSO and the Catholic schools. “It is our call, as Catholic educators, to keep the faith alive. It is our call to form witnesses of Jesus Christ who will change the world, to be the new generation of evangelizers who will form the generation that comes after us.”

Vogel said the concept of the previous logo — Mind, Heart and Spirit — remains a focus for the Archdiocese, which boasts the largest private school system in Texas with more than 19,000 students enrolled.

“We’re not losing the concept of Mind, Heart, and Spirit. That doesn’t go away, because that is core to who we are as Catholics,” she said. “To me, the bigger picture, the purpose of a Catholic education is to form witnesses of Jesus Christ who are going to go out and transform the world.”

The new logo is an upward-moving cross with a star in its center. The cross signifies Catholic Identity. The upward, swooping movement shows transformation in reaching for the stars, moving onward and upward.

“That is us,” Vogel said. “That is where we are now and that is where we are going.”

The colors are also significant because they come directly from the Archdiocesan shield. The blue is the color of the shield and the gold is from the miter above it. The star represents Texas as the Lone Star State, incorporated into the cross, which comes directly from the shield. 

“This (the Catholic Schools’ logo) is the goal of a Catholic education right there — in visual representation and in words,” Vogel said.

The Catholic Schools Office provides oversight for accreditation, Catholic identity and academic excellence. The office also helps coordinate teacher and principal professional development across all schools, and plays an integral role in mission and direction of the 61 schools in the Archdiocese.

In its current configuration, the CSO is staffed with one associate superintendent who is responsible for the oversight of the office and handles many of the auxiliary groups within the Archdiocese that come from other community organizations. The CSO also four assistant superintendents who are directly responsible for stewardship, recruitment and retention of teachers and leaders; an assistant superintendent of curriculum and assessment; and an assistant superintendent of urban and rural achievement. “All assistants have specific strengths in these areas and are leaders within their areas of expertise,” Vogel said. “This kind of assistance hasn’t been in place for years and we are excited to do what we can to help principals succeed.”

Additionally, the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese are now divided into five different clusters, each with leadership provided by a principal working in collaboration with a CSO representative. One of those principals, Deb Brown of Sacred Heart Catholic School in Conroe, said her main goal will be to facilitate the discussions in her cluster so that there is a better understanding of what a Professional Learning Community is and how it functions to the betterment of all stakeholders.

“I am very happy and fortunate to be working with the dedicated principals in my cluster and the Catholic Schools Office,” she said. “The reorganization of the Catholic Schools Office has already proven to be so successful in the dissemination of information in addition to the calming and reassuring attitude (they office provides). Educators with a lot of expertise have been brought in to share their wealth of knowledge and experience with the schools in the Archdiocese. That will, in return strengthen, all of our schools.”

Brown said principals now know who to go to for guidance and support. 

“There has been a paradigm shift or mindset that now ‘we are all in this together, no one stands alone,’” she said. 

As for Sacred Heart Catholic School (co-ed PreK through eighth grade), Brown said her main focus is on preparing a self-study for an accreditation visit that is scheduled for the fall of 2016, as well as kicking off the year with a retreat on Catholic Identity.

“Catholic education allows our students to learn about their faith daily and affords an opportunity to live and model that faith in all areas of life,” Brown said. “I feel very blessed to be a part of this exciting change in the restructure of the Catholic Schools Office and the difference I think it is going to make in the lives of all who are part of Catholic education. This opportunity is both exciting and challenging!”