New president of Catholic National Association for Education is optimistic ahead of new school year
WINDSOR TERRACE – Less than a week after becoming the new president and CEO of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), Lincoln Snyder was already thinking about the next school year, which will begin in less than two months.
“I’m really focusing on two big themes this year – hero and growth – as I step into this new role with NCEA, ”Snyder told The Tablet. “In many places across the country we were open schools – or certainly those who opened first – because of the heavy heroic load of teachers.
“Our Catholic schools have really pushed the boundaries to make sure that we are serving children the best that we can over the past year and a half,” he continued. “I’m really looking forward to the conversation around ‘How do we tell this story of what we have done well, both in general and over the past year, in educating servant leaders about Christ?’ “
The former Superintendent and Executive Director of Schools for the Diocese of Sacramento has succeeded Kathy Mears, who will resume her role as Programs Manager after serving as Interim President and CEO since April 2020.
Snyder has also served as president of the California Catholic School Superintendents Conference since 2019 and served as a teacher and board chair at his alma mater, Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento.
News of Synder’s appointment comes as the NCEA looks to bounce back from its biggest single-year drop in registrations since the 1970s.
The NCEA reported in February that 209 schools had closed permanently across the country in the past year. Nationwide enrollment in elementary and secondary schools also declined by 6.4% between the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 school years. New York, Los Angeles and Chicago have seen enrollment drops of more than 8%.
However, enrollment in parish schools and Catholic academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn increased by 1,500 students compared to last June. Forty percent of schools have stabilized or increased their student populations this year, according to Ted Havelka, director of enrollment management and financial aid for the diocese’s superintendent of schools.
The association also found that enrollment in Catholic schools increased by more than 2% in the Diocese of Las Vegas last year. Enrollment also increased by 3% compared to September 2019 in the original diocese of Snyder.
With these examples in mind, Snyder believes other Catholic schools may turn the downward trend this coming year.
“Some of our schools are down,” Snyder said in terms of enrollment. “I have seen schools in particular where families who are in service industries or who have been dependent on hourly wages may be more exposed to the recession resulting from the pandemic.”
“But, I am very optimistic,” he continued, “because we have shown that we are committed to always staying focused on what is best for the children.”
For example, waiting lists and increased and renewed interest from new families are positive signs, in Snyder’s eyes.
“I want to make sure that we as NCEA help frame this conversation about what we can do next, as a system, and what individual members can. – whether it is a teacher, a school or a diocesan office – do to have that conversation around growth as well, ”Snyder said.
He also explained that one of his other goals as president is to help Catholic dioceses, bishops and school leaders find affordable resources that will propel them to success.
“It’s time for us to use this heroic big job to start a new conversation about COVID-19. “