The San Miguel Middle Schools of DENA come together to share best practices / Lasallian Mission

1/26 – 28/12 – Tinton Falls, NJ – Middle School teachers from Providence, RI, Washington DC, Freeport, NY, and Philadelphia, PA, gathered at the Doubletree Hotel in Tinton Falls to share their educational success and learn from the best practices that take place in each other’s San Miguel middle schools. The theme of their gathering, “Creating Communities of Hope” brought together principals, school administrators, teachers, volunteers, and staff who work in these urban based, Catholic and Lasallian schools that operate tuition free and serve poor students in their communities.

Mr. Kevin Sheehan, Assistant Professor of Education at Molloy College, was the keynote presenter, starting off the program on Friday morning (for the full schedule, click here). He discussed how these special middle schools help to Rediscover Hope for the children and families they serve. Other presenters included Brother Edward Phelan, FSC, PhD; Mr. Kevin Regan, Brother Dennis Malloy, FSC, and Brother Ernest Miller, FSC. The convocation was convened by the Office of Mission and Ministry under the direction of Mr. Alan Weyland.

The keywords of Mr. Sheehan’s keynote presentation were Hope and Grit, two qualities of the San Miguel Schools and its educators. Sheehan advocates for and has been working in close connection with the De La Salle School in Freeport, NY, and used the school model as the basis for “Rediscovering Hope: Lessons from the De La Salle School as a Model for Hope in Children in Poverty.” Despite mainstream research about students from low income situations, Sheehan’s research with the De La Salle School shows its students achieve much more because of rigorous curriculum and extra academic and curricular programming, coupled with modeled and expected everyday morals and values.

In addition to teaching at Molloy College (Rockville Center, NY), Sheehan is also the facilitator of a mentoring program in which Molloy students meet with De La Salle School graduates attending Holy Trinity Diocesan High School (Hicksville, NY) providing academic support or guidance with the college application process.

Saturday morning was focused on Association. Br. Ed Phelan led an interactive discussion about the global reality of our Institute, with legumes at the center of the symbolism, while Mr. Kevin Regan, along with his San Miguel Providence colleagues, focused on association within the San Miguel ministries, with a ladder and rope circle as symbolic props.

In addition to keynote presentations, attendees gathered in best practice sessions to discuss model and successful programs in Accelerated Reading, Peer and Adult Mentoring, Community Building, Alumni Engagement, Codes of Conduct, Extended School Day and Summer Program practices. The San Miguel School movement began in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1993. These specially designed urban education programs look to serve the needs of poor urban students within the structures of specifically designed school days, extended day and summer programs, with faculties and staffs focused on educating the whole student. This they endeavor to do in a quality academic program along with extracurricular activities in an effort to stimulate social values that will allow them to be successful throughout their academic careers and make positive contributions to their local communities for the rest of their lives. Nationally there are 13 San Miguel Model Schools.