Award, presentation will be among NCEA highlights for school officials

Accepting a national award and giving a presentation on marketing Catholic schools.

Those will be among the highlights for archdiocesan officials April 18-20 at the National Catholic Educational Association’s (NCEA) 2017 Convention & Expo in St. Louis.

And that kind of involvement in the convention – the largest private education association gathering in the country – speaks well of the impact archdiocesan schools are having in their local communities and beyond, said Patrick Slattery, superintendent.

"We’ve built up a relationship with the NCEA," Slattery said. "When they plan conferences like these, they have begun reaching out to our office."

Beatriz Arellanes, coordinator of Latino School Enrollment, will accept the NCEA’s Catherine T. McNamee Award for promoting a vision of culturally and economically diverse Catholic schools serving students with diverse needs.

Arellanes is being honored for her efforts to promote Catholic schools among Latino families, help them enroll their children and meet other needs, Slattery said. Letters of recommendation were written by several people, including Archbishop George J. Lucas and Slattery, and Guadalupe Sanchez, the head of the Mexican consulate in Omaha.

"Between all those letters, it really drove home the individual effort she has brought forth to serve Latino families and students," Slattery said.

Arellanes also will be among archdiocesan officials presenting a breakout session on the archdiocese’s "Catholic School. Awaken Greatness" marketing campaign, which is in its third year and has been credited with helping boost enrollment in the archdiocese the last two years.

She will address Latino outreach, while Slattery will discuss the overall campaign and Shannan Brommer, director of the archdiocese’s Stewardship and Development Office, will talk about the Ignite the Faith capital campaign that helped fund the school marketing effort.

A representative of Omaha-based advertising firm Bailey Lauerman, which has assisted the archdiocese with the campaign, will discuss research and brand development. And Tricia Olsen, marketing and public relations officer for the Catholic Schools Office, will discuss brand management, marketing, recruitment and enrollment programs, as well as the archdiocese’s efforts to encourage parents to act as "ambassadors" for Catholic schools, touting their benefits to family, friends and neighbors.

The annual gathering is valuable in part because school officials invariably bring ideas back with them to implement in the archdiocese, Slattery said. Examples of archdiocesan programs that grew from initiatives discussed at past conventions include the parent ambassador program and welcome grants for students transferring into Catholic schools, he said.

Another avenue for sharing best practices is serving on one of several NCEA advisory councils, and four people in the archdiocese currently are assisting with those, Slattery said.

Named in January to an advisory council on Catholic schools serving students with disabilities and other special needs was Tracey Kovar, learning services coordinator at St. Margaret Mary School in Omaha. Kovar will serve a three-year term.

"I’m excited," Kovar said. "It will be nice to meet with people all over the country with the same goal."

In their second year on advisory councils are Tim Mueting, a religion teacher at Roncalli Catholic High School in Omaha; David Peters, head of school at Mount Michael Benedictine School near Elkhorn; and Nic Prenger, president of fundraising and development firm the Steier Group in Omaha.

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