He's the superintendent of Buffalo Public Schools, but Dr. Kriner Cash spent some time touring Catholic Academy of West Buffalo on Tuesday, May 23. It was an idea inspired months ago during a conversation between Dr. Cash and Bishop Richard J. Malone.
"It's been a goal since I've come to Buffalo to try to visit all the different kinds of schools," said Dr. Cash. "The Catholic community certainly has a strong history here and has always had a lot of great practices, so if I can learn something of how they do things here then I use it as part of the public school menu but also the greater good is to find ways to serve Buffalo right now. It's going through an economic renaissance, but we need to make sure it sustains a strong educational renaissance. You go fast if you go alone, but you go farther if you go together."
"Good morning, Doctor Cash," echoed from the children in each classroom that he walked into with Sr. Carol Cimino, SSJ, superintendent of Catholic Schools. "We're taking care of the same kids," said Sister Carol. "I think our goals are the same. I know our goals are the same; to give kids the best education that we can give them."
The two superintendents agreed to follow up and share best practices on some of the common challenges they face. Both expressed a desire to maintain diversity in their teaching staffs. Catholic schools already collaborate with public schools on certain services like transportation. Dr. Cash welcomed more discussion on school choice. "It's incumbent upon all of us to make sure that every child receives an equal and high quality education, and so you want to have the choices be all good choices. "
Robert Bennett, Chancellor Emeritus, was also on the tour and pointed out the importance of sharing best practice in the area of special education. "We can't write those children off," said Bennett, who is a member of the Catholic Schools Advisory Council for the Diocese of Buffalo. "They have to be fully integrated into everything we do."
Sr. Gail Glenn, SSJ, principal of Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, was pleased to offer the tour to the man in charge of Buffalo's 59 public schools. "It's a beautiful place with beautiful people. Any chance I get to show it off, I welcome. We reflect very strongly the diversity of our community. It's our life blood to remain here and be faithful to the people of our community."
After the tour, Sister Carol jumped at the chance to answer a reporter's question about what the difference was between a public and a Catholic education. "A Catholic education is grounded in faith and the values that we find in the gospels," said the Catholic Schools superintendent. "We bring the good news to children every single day in a community of faith and love. Religion is not just a subject that's taught 45 minutes a day. It should be infused throughout the whole day; the way in which we interact with each other, the way in which teachers interact with children, the way we teach Social Studies or Language Arts, sports, whatever it is, it needs to be infused with those Catholic values. That's non-negotiable."