Gratitude in Motion

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Happy Thanksgiving from The National Catholic Board on Full Inclusion!

Wishing you the joy of time with families.
Delicious food.
Cozy moments.
Peace.
And a full heart.

Today, we stop and consider all of our many blessings…but more than that, we honor the people who live their gratitude every single day.

Thank you to those inclusion advocates who find a way to say YES.

As John F. Kennedy said so beautifully: “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

Gratitude in motion.

A few days ago we honored Principal Katie Carden for her gratitude in action.

She received our Dandy Award for November.

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Mrs. Katie Carden is the Principal at The School of Saints Faith, Hope and Charity in Winnetka, Illinois. She was nominated by several people and her vision and leadership were mentioned often.

Here are just a few of the descriptions of Katie:
“Katie is a strong leader, a gentle guide and a shining example of integrity. She practices what she preaches and sets the standard for the entire faculty and staff to follow. With six children of her own, including a young son with Down Syndrome, and 350 “school kids”, Katie is a busy woman, yet she always finds time in her day to interact with the students. A typical day finds her greeting students as they enter the building each morning, visiting classrooms to share information and reinforce expectations, joining students on the playground, and helping with crossing guard and carpool duty in the afternoon.”

What you see here is a leader.
An example of faith and gratitude and vision.

These are Katie’s words that she shared with her entire school at the beginning of the year:
“As you know, Faith Hope is an inclusive school. For years we have been meeting the needs of students with a variety of learning abilities. My coursework at Loyola University (of Chicago) has led us to a greater level of inclusion. The Catholic Social Teaching remind us that God is not selective and that we, too, need to be open to ALL children who can be successful in an inclusive environment.”

This is what it means to stand in the margins.
This is clear guidance offered with support and love.

In the era of me-first, emphasis on winning at all costs, shirking our morals to have the end justify the means, Katie is grounded in faith.

We are so grateful for her willingness to say YES and to find a way to include students that are normally left out of Catholic education.

Katie’s work is a challenge to all of us:
How can I do more?
How can I live out my faith?
What am I called to do?

Gratitude in motion.

Our other Dandy Award winner for November is Mrs. Dana Corcoran, Principal of Immaculata Catholic School in Durham, North Carolina.

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“Every child can learn” is the motto Dana holds as principal. She supports her teachers with professional development, attends IEP’s, works to find resources and supports for all students and embraces the belief that we are all better when we are learning together.

Dana has found a way to SAY YES.
Boldly.
Without reservation.
A full welcome.

She has done this not with any fanfare or special program but because it is our faith.

She is the only inclusive Catholic school on our map in Durham and only the second inclusive school in all of North Carolina and we could not be prouder of her leadership and her advocacy.

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Dana and Katie embody all of the qualities that we hold dear in a Dandy Award recipient: leadership, advocacy, willingness, faith, kindness, humility.

On Thanksgiving, we thank both of you for your grace in action.
Radical Hospitality out there for all to see.

Your leadership is changing lives.
Changing a paradigm.
Your example as educators show us that inclusion is possible and worth every effort.

This Thanksgiving, we honor you both.
Most importantly, we honor every person who chooses to LIVE their gratitude every single day…
By finding a way
By saying YES
By seeing the opportunity in the difficulty.

Hearts are full because of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Now, go get some pumpkin pie.

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