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Pre-K to College Initiative Debuts

The creation of a world-class Catholic education in Greater Green Bay is the goal of a new collaboration between St. Norbert and regional educational organizations.

The college, with Green Bay Area Catholic Education (GRACE) and Notre Dame Academy, is committing to an intentional partnership that will advance common goals and grow Catholic education in the Greater Green Bay area from early childhood through college.

The compact recognizes all that the three independently run organizations have in common and was born of a wish to maximize existing good relationships, says President Tom Kunkel: “It just makes sense for us to share our collective talents for the benefit of our students. Our goal is nothing less than to create world-class pre-K through college Catholic education right here in Greater Green Bay.”

The collaboration makes possible four joint initiatives that will share knowledge, expertise and opportunity. The creation of CatholicLink, a two-part program, will, first, link St. Norbert faculty and students with GRACE schools to create unique learning opportunities for students; second, foster a professional learning community where the faculty of all three institutions can share best practices in educational delivery. A second initiative allows for a $5,000 bonus, after three years of service, available to graduates of St. Norbert’s teacher education program who go on to work in partnership schools. (This program, made possible with funding from an anonymous donor, begins with alums who graduated with the Class of 2015.) The partnership allows, thirdly, for the sharing of expertise in admission, marketing, fundraising, alumni relations, athletics and professional education; and fourthly, for 50 percent tuition waivers at partnership institutions for employees whose children are enrolled there.

At a press conference to launch the partnership, Kevin Shaw ’79, new president of Green Bay’s Notre Dame Academy, spoke about the bonus for new teachers. “Our objective is to encourage more young professionals to help grow our Catholic schools,” he said. “We hope more St. Norbert alumni will stay in the Green Bay area to share their gifts and faith in a teaching environment that is consistent with their values.”

The Greater Green Bay area has a long history of Catholic education dating back to the late 19th century and the schools that the young Rev. Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., founded on the campus of the new St. Norbert College. Today’s leaders of the pre-K through college institutions say that, by honoring that history and tradition in partnership, they will further advance the already excellent educational experience that their students now enjoy. 

The Rev. Dane Radecki, O.Praem., ’72, president of GRACE, says, “By coming together in dialogue, we are finding ways to help one another in providing exceptional faith-based educational experiences for our students. We have all of the right ingredients to be simply exceptional. And our mission calls us to aim high.” 

The GRACE system includes 10 schools committed to the 3K through eighth-grade educational needs of the 23 Catholic parishes within the Greater Green Bay community. GRACE is the largest Catholic school system in the state of Wisconsin. 

Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic high school that holds a 99 percent college admission rate. It was established in 1990 under its present name when St. Joseph Academy (founded in 1896), Abbot Pennings High School (founded in 1898 as St. Norbert High School) and Our Lady of Prémontré High School (founded in 1941) combined under one roof.

July 3, 2015