Tag Archives: teaching

Phillies Will Once Again Honor Local Teachers

The Philadelphia Phillies will once again take an evening to celebrate the importance of teachers this coming season.

On Friday, May 13th, 2016 during a game against the Cincinnati Reds, the Phils will honor 10 local teachers at Citizens Bank Park on Teacher Appreciation Night. 
This will be the 16th annual celebration of the educational profession by the Phillies.
Fans are being encouraged to nominate their own personal favorite teachers between now and Friday, April 1st, 2016. 
Students, parents, former students, and peers are asked to submit teachers who have impacted their lives in the past and/or present.
The Phillies will select 10 “All-Stars” from among all nominees received to be specially honored on the field prior to the game that night. 
The club will also honor a further 10 “Honorable Mention” nominees along with the “All-Stars” at a pregame tent party. All 20 will then enjoy the game that night as guests of the club.
Each year there is also a special feature at this event in which a current Phillies player honors a teacher from their own past. 
Recent honorees have been

former teachers of such Phillies greats as Ryan Howard and Jamie Moyer, the latter of whom grew up and went to school in Souderton, Pennsylvania, about 35 miles north of the city, and also played ball at and graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in Philly.

This effort by the Phillies has special significance for us here at the TBOH site, as three of the staff members are actually teachers. 
In fact, the newest staff writer, Mike Azzalina, was an Honorable Mention honoree back in 2014 in the Phillies program. 
The “cover girl” for this story, Kristin Zinicola, was honored as an All-Star back in 2013 for her work at the Caley Elementary School in Upper Merion, Pa.

Congratulations to Caley teacher Kristin Zinicola who was honored at the Phillies’ Teacher Appreciation Night.
Whether your favorite teacher is nominated or honored, all educators and their families will receive an $8 discount that night on any ticket priced at $47 and under. The educator/teacher will need to supply some type of school identification to receive the discount. 
Group tickets are also available for groups of 25 or more. Interested teachers, educators, and their families can purchase these discounted tickets at this link: Teacher Appreciation Night discount tickets.
Last year, six Pennsylvania teachers and four from New Jersey, four men and six women, were acknowledged as the 2015 Teacher All-Stars
That group included Tammy Cantagallo of John M. Patterson School and Natalie Tidmarsh of The Overbrook School for the Blind, both located in Philadelphia. The team also recognized 20 “Honorable Mention” teachers a year ago.
So submit your nominations now at this link: 2016 Philadelphia Phillies Teacher All-Stars Contest. They have been blessed with a gift, discovered that gift, and made the choice to use it in order to help educate future generations. 
The team, and we as fans, now have a chance to show our appreciation for their exceptional use of those gifts. Take the time in the coming days and weeks to fill out a nomination.

Low times for Catholic Highs

North Catholic students in 1954 during the school’s heyday

 

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced the other day that two of its long time iconic high schools, North Catholic and Cardinal Dougherty, would be closing at the end of the current school year.

Reaction from students and their families at the two schools, each of which had once held the distinction of being the largest Catholic high school for boys by attendance in the world, as well as from alumni of the two schools, came swift and strong.

Many of the students had dreamed of graduating from North and Dougherty, some of these students as ‘legacies’ who were the sons and grandsons of alumni. The loss of the schools would break family traditions stretching back for generations.

There would also be day-to-day changes for the students, such as travel arrangements to new schools and trying to fit in socially at an entirely new environment.

For alumni, the issues included the loss of tradition and a perceived elimination of a large slice of their own teenage memories. These former students and graduates had walked the ‘hallowed halls’ at North and Dougherty. They had competed for the sports teams, participated in the clubs, attended the religious services, and got their groove on at the dances and proms.

When North Catholic opened in 1926 it enrolled approximately 450 students. By the post-World War II years the school enrollment had swelled to more than 4,000 young men. By 1953, that enrollment had grown over 4,700 students, and North Catholic was recognized as the largest Catholic high school for boys in the entire world. It was a slow downhill from there as far as attendance figures.

By the late-1970’s, with North Catholic celebrating its 50th anniversary, total attendance had fallen to about 2,700 students. The total dropped below the 2,000 mark by the early 1980’s.

Though there are now approximately 40,000 alumni of North Catholic high school, the actual 2008 attendance had plummeted to just 750 total students.

The story is similar at Cardinal Dougherty, which opened in 1956. By the 1960’s, Dougherty enrollment had swelled past the 6,000 mark as the school took over the title of largest Catholic boys school in the world. But attendance plunged in the same way it would over at North. By 2008, there were just 784 total students at Dougherty.

When you consider these figures, it is really not that hard to figure out why buildings and facilities originally created to hold between 4,000-6,000 students and now held a little more than 700 each could not continue.

But many students and alumni are placing the blame elsewhere. The rise in tuition costs. The cost of legal defense for Catholic priests accused and convicted in the sex abuse scandals.

Sadly, these Catholics are completely missing the real reasons why enrollment has plunged to the point that schools need to be closed.

For the America of the ‘Baby Boomer’ years during the two decades immediately following World War II, the Catholic Church was a major institution and a concrete part of family life. Families were still together, and many of those were large and thriving.

Divorce was almost unheard of at that time, and a typical Catholic family would have four or five children or more. These kids grew up to attend the neighborhood Catholic elementary and high schools as a matter of course.

Tuition in the 1960’s was approximately $200-250 per student at most Catholic high schools in Philadelphia. Today those figures have risen into the thousands, in some cases to more than $10,000 per year.

Of course, people who earned a salary of $5,000 per year back in the 1960’s are now making $50,000 in those same jobs today. Few people ever consider this fact when harping on tuition rises. The fact of the matter is that costs have soared for most of the same inflationary reasons that salaries have soared over the past five decades.

Catholic schools have an additional burden in that they continue to provide the best educational opportunities and resources. That includes the quality of teachers, facilities, programs, and the overall learning environment.

The cost of providing that quality is, however, now spread out over hundreds of students rather than the thousands of students attending the schools in earlier generations.

There is one major reason for all of the problems that leading to not only the anticipated closings of North Catholic and Cardinal Dougherty high schools here in Philadelphia, but also to closings and mergers of other Catholic elementary and high schools in recent years.

This one major reason also applies to the merger of my own alma mater, St. John Neumann boys high school in South Philly, with St. Maria Goretti girls high school back in 2004.

That one major reason is that Catholic families simply have fallen down on the job.

Catholic families began to have fewer and fewer children, to the point now where most Catholic families have approximately two children rather than the half dozen or more kids that was common a half century ago.

Reproductive demographics is only a part of the problem,  just a symptom of the bigger problem that I personally believe is spiritual in nature. Catholic families have not drifted away from the Church over the decades, they have sprinted away.

According to the results of a Gallup Poll released in April of 2009, attendance at Catholic churches has leveled off at approximately 45% after falling slightly below that figure in the immediate aftermath of the priest abuse scandals. In 1955 that figure had been a full 75% attendance for weekly Mass services.

The fact was, if you were a Catholic in our grandparents day, you went to Mass on Sunday – it was obligatory. The sad fact today seems to be that people take Mass attendance far too casually.

Also, where in those previous decades the idea of divorce was almost unheard of, today approximately 21% of Catholic Americans have been through a divorce according to religioustolerance.org figures.

The combination of the deterioration of Catholic family size, structure, and practice is at its core a spiritual problem.

Many Catholics have become more self-centered, more materialistic, more cynical and more willing to surrender to or flee from the problems posed by evil in the world rather than standing by their faith and fighting back. They have fled to other Christian denominations, or to no religious practice whatsoever, and have taken their smaller families along with them.

It is easy for people who want to assign blame, whether it be in the current struggles of the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia or in any other area of life, to point at others. There may even be some validity to such accusations. But those same people need to sincerely look themselves in the mirror and ask some hard questions of the person looking back at them.

Do you go to Mass every week, or at least most weeks? Do you make it a priority for you and your family? Do you receive the Sacraments, especially Communion, but also including Confession/Penance?

Are you committed to your family, and especially if a young Catholic, are you committed to growing that family in number and raising your children as strong Catholics?

Did you, do you, or will you send your children to Catholic schools? Do you find a way to support the Church outwardly and proudly despite the shortcomings of some of its leadership?

If you can look yourself in the mirror and answer all of these questions positively, then congratulations, you are not really a part of the problem. But unfortunately you are also not in the majority of American Catholic families over the past few decades.

The answer to the problems which are now requiring the closings of North Catholic and Cardinal Dougherty, that required the merger of Neumann and Goretti, and that have required the closings and mergers of other Catholic elementary and high schools can be found within ourselves, not in protest or in demonstrations.

We the people who make up the body of the Church need to return to our basic fundamentals of faith, prayer, and support for the Catholic Church. If we are not willing to do that, then more and more Catholic schools will meet the same fate in future years.

The official school motto at North Catholic is “Tenui Nec Dimittam” which translates to “What I have, I will not lose” which should be taken on as the new motto of all Catholics in Philadelphia and all across the United States of America.

Lost opportunity to teach charity

Two small private schools that were little-known outside of the Dallas, Texas area were thrust into the spotlight last week. The Covenant School girls basketball team put a whuppin’ on the girls from Dallas Academy, a whuppin’ to the tune of 100-0.

You read that right, Covenant scored 100 points in a high school girls game. That might be worth talking about under some circumstances. Most girls basketball contests end with the winner scoring in the 40’s or 50’s. Scoring 100 points shows that you either have an outstanding club, or the other team was really bad (at least in comparison), or some other freakish thing occurred such as a multiple overtime game.

In this game, we can blame some of the above. Covenant is a Texas state-championship contender, Dallas Academy is not very good, and there was indeed something freakish afoot here. But that freakish event was not some multiple overtime thriller in which one team scored those 100 points and the other scored in the 90’s.

No, in this one, Dallas Academy scored zero points. None, nadda, zilch. They came up empty. They put up a donut. Nothing on the board, no balls through the hoop.

Think about how hard this 100-0 thing is to have happen. There are 48 playing minutes in a regulation girls high school basketball game. Each basket is worth two points. To score 100 points, Covenant was scoring at better than a basket per minute throughout the game. Meanwhile, Dallas Academy did absolutely nothing.

I overheard someone commenting on this game, that it would likely never happen in a boys game. Their reasoning was that at some point boys simply wouldn’t have taken it any more, and there would have been a physical penalty inflicted on the leading team by the losers that would have slowed down the pace, or ended the game.

Yep, he was talking about fighting. It isn’t right either, but his point was that at some point the losing boys team would have taken matters into their own hands and let the winners know that the embarrassment had gone too far.

At 10-0 you are off to a good start. At 20-0 you have taken complete control of the game. At 30-0 you have almost no chance to lose, especially at the high school level.

At that point, and arguably far earlier, you have shown that your talent level is no match for the other squad. You probably have already gone to your ‘bench’, meaning you have put in your backup or substitute-level players and they have continued the dominance.

At some point around this time, any further building of your lead has a simple phrase in the sporting world that describes what is happening: piling on.

This is where Micah Grimes got it all wrong. He is the Covenant girls basketball coach, and his response was that “it just happened.” Pardon me, Mr. Grimes, but something like a 100-0 sporting event between young girls can never ‘just happen’. Rather as the coach you allowed it to happen.

This was a teaching moment that someone in charge of our kids is supposed to take advantage of and use to better their lives. Long after the embarrassment of being on the winning side of a 100-0 game subsides, the lessons of a 50-0 victory could have been felt, perhaps for the rest of the lives of some of the girls involved.

This was a moment to teach the virtue of charity, the generosity and helpfulness for the needy or suffering, the gift for a public benevolent purpose, the idea of benevolent good will.

Grimes was in control. He controlled what was said to the girls on the sidelines. He controlled their playing time, both in this game and in future games. He had the ability to put on the brakes.

What could he have done? He could have told his girls to walk the ball up the floor on every possession. He could have told them to play soft defense and allow the Dallas Academy girls to setup plays and take shots. He could have pulled a couple of his key on-court leaders aside and made sure that the girls stayed with this program on the floor.

There are ways to handle this type of situation without making it look like a joke or a Harlem Globetrotters game. The fact is that the result was already settled, all that remained at a certain point was to determine the final score, and to determine how this level of a blowout would be remembered.

Grimes should have taken this opportunity to speak to his girls about these very ideas of charity, generosity, good will, benevolence, and sportsmanship. He could have built his halftime speach around it. He could have reinforced it at every stoppage of play.

He easily could have made the girls understand that they were in a unique situation, one that they may never be in again in their playing careers. He could have let them know that this was a one night reduction in their playing level intensity. There was obviously no real competition available to them here.

He was wrong to say that it just happened. He allowed it to happen. In fact, he directed it to happen. He had his team keep up full pressure until the 100-0 mark had been achieved. From attendee accounts it was very obvious that the score was something that was seen as a goal as the game unfolded.

Afterwards, coach Grimes felt no guilt or shame. The school, on the other hand, got it right. They fired Grimes in the immediate aftermath, the same day as the game, and issued a public apology.

For his part, Grimes remained steadfast in disagreeing with the apology and saying that “Although a wide-margin victory is never evidence of compassion, my girls played with honor and integrity and showed respect to Dallas Academy.” 

He got the first part right about a lack of compassion. But his team lost it’s honor and integrity as they continued to effectively kick a person lying on the ground. How they showed any respect at all to Dallas Academy is beyond me.

This was not a professional game where players are paid and must accept the consequences of any game. This is a high school where athletics are supposed to be only one part of a learning process for the kids involved, from players and cheerleaders to spectators and even disinterested students.

Micah Grimes may have been just a coach at Covenant and not have had the official title of teacher, but he failed in that a big part of the job of every high school athletic coach is exactly that – teacher. He missed a huge opportunity to teach his girls, and his school, about charity.

For the resulting magnitude of that failure, Grimes deserved to lose his job, and no high school should consider hiring him until he admits his mistake, shows that he truly understands its ramifications. Grimes must apologize to all involved, and takes steps to prove that he is ready to move forward with an adjusted mindset.

There is never a need to sacrifice charity and compassion simply for winning a sporting event.