DIA Schools Collaborative’s 2024 Fellows include four Catholic education professionals who are deeply committed to bearing witness to their faith in their work and to strengthening the Catholic culture in their organization. Meet two of the Fellows and learn more about their projects.

Debra Dharmer, English teacher/Lead Teacher for Sophomore Team at Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield CA.

The communion of saints is one of the most beautiful aspects of the Catholic faith. In this case, beauty is intended as a transcendental, not simply as an aesthetic component.  Rather, beauty is associated with being well-ordered, promoting harmony, and, ultimately, fostering integration. The saints are models for living a faithful and ordered life according to God’s call, which then produces inner and outer harmony, and ultimately supports an integrated community of believers. Catholic elementary educational settings are known for educating students about the saints and for salient sacramentals, particularly religious statues, throughout common spaces as well as individual classrooms. On the high school level, this is not as prevalent and often high school classrooms will have just a single sacramental, such as a crucifix that may or may not be prominent or even acknowledged. 

My project at Marin Catholic High School is focused on increasing the awareness and discussion of saints as well as their roles as our patrons and guides.  My proposal is a two part project that is focused on the following components: 

  1. Develop a unit that introduces patron saints as part of a new senior seminar course, focused on Christianity and literature, to be taught in Fall of 2024. The unit will educate them about patron saints in general as well as the patron saint for that particular course, St. Therese of Lisieux. Here is a link to a slide presentation about the course: “The Faith of a Child: Christianity and the Child Archetype in Literature”
  1. Work with the English and Theology departments to help them select a patron saint for their respective departments and to develop simple and effective pedagogical access points for the students to learn about the saints, including saint statue installations in classrooms. 

Sarah Hogan, Director of College Counseling and Alumni Engagement, Providence Academy  in Plymouth, MN

In our calling as educators in Catholic, college prep schools, we aim to become more cohesive in our approach to advising students toward choosing post-secondary options as a response to God’s call for their lives and the stewardship of their gifts to be used for the common good and the Kingdom of God. Our common mission for students is to view the college and career process as a part of discernment of God’s will for their life. As school and college counselors, our specific mission is to educate students (and their families) about college preparation, including academic planning, college entrance testing, and extracurricular development, the college search, the application and selection process, and financial aid with expert advice and perspective that leads to the selection of a best-fit post-secondary choice. The second is to serve in an integral educational role that helps students grow in personal responsibility and initiative while building skills in self-reflection, self-advocacy, communication, and decision-making that are critical for emerging adulthood.

Our project, simply (yet aptly) named The Counselor Fellowship, seeks to build a collaborative network of Catholic counseling professionals eager to share best practices in support of students approaching their post-secondary planning with tools of both natural and supernatural means for understanding their gifts to make appropriate and fulfilling decisions to putting those gifts into actions. In partnership with the Head of School at Sparhawk Academy in Boston and the DIA Schools Collaborative, we plan to host an affinity group of like-hearted counselors for our inaugural three-day program in late June 2024. We will focus on the themes of Counseling Students and Parents for The Long Game and Finding Fit with Focus on Personal Calling, while including visits to local universities and connecting with Catholic ministers from area campuses, as well as sessions with college advising experts, with dedicated time for prayer and collaboration. In short, the overall goal of the Counselor Fellowship is to provide professional development (and networking) that more fully aligns with our mission as Catholic educators.

Embolden your faith community through a DIA Schools Fellowship!

Applications for the 2025 Fellowship, DIA’s fifth cohort, will open in the fall, 2024. Become a beacon of light for passionately Catholic education and the Catholic Church at-large by considering a project mentored and guided through DIA Schools Collaborative. Learn more at https://diaschools.org/members/#dia-fellows.