Share |

Everything listed under: Joe Brettnacher

  • Specialist certification training will make Scecina an even safer place

    Hello, Scecina family,

    I continue to work with our Emergency Operations Planning Committee to secure the safety of everyone at Scecina Memorial High School as it is a top priority of mine. For this reason, I attended basic school safety training in November, and I will receive advanced training next month. When I complete my advanced training, I will obtain the School Safety Specialist Certification.

    I want to share what basic training taught me. I will follow up with two more articles in the coming weeks.

    During my basic school safety training, I learned more about the Four Phases of Emergency Management. The four phases include Prevention/Mitigation, Protection, Response, and Recovery. The best way for me to explain each one is in an outline format.

    Prevention/Mitigation involves preventing future emergencies or minimizing their effects.;

    • Activities taken to prevent an emergency, reduce the chances of an emergency happening, or reduces the damaging effects of unavoidable emergencies
    • Buying flood and fire insurance for your home is a mitigation activity
    • Activities that take place before and after emergencies

    Preparedness involves preparing to handle an emergency.

    • Plans or preparations made to save lives and to help response and rescue operations
    • Evacuation plans and stocking food and water are both examples of preparedness
    • Activities that take place before an emergency occurs

    Response involves responding safely to an emergency.

    • Actions we take to save lives and prevent further property damage in an emergency
    • Putting your preparedness plans into action
    • Seeking shelter from a tornado or turning off gas valves in an earthquake are both response activities
    • Activities take place during an emergency

    Recovery involves recovering from an emergency The actions we take to return to a normal or an even safer situation

    • Getting financial assistance to help pay for the repairs
    • Activities that take place after an emergency
    • Reuniting victims with their loved ones is essential.

    My next blog post will contain information on the online training and assessments I took to supplement basic training and prepare me for advanced instruction.

    Please pray that we keep our school safe every day! Have a great weekend,

    Joseph Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • Our goal in academics is to meet the needs of all learners


    In my recent messages, I’ve been leading you through our School Improvement Plan (SIP) that is part of Scecina’s accreditation process. Through SIP, we are setting goals in three areas: 1) Catholic Identity, 2) Academics and 3) Institutional Advancement.

    I’ve been talking about the process of setting the goals and interventions in those three areas. Please remember that these are preliminary.

    Last time I wrote about our goals and interventions for Catholic Identity. This week I’ll discuss Academics. That committee is chaired by Mrs. Amy Fix.

    Our goal in academics is to meet the needs of all learners. We are committed to educating the whole child. This is one of the Defining Characteristics of Catholic education, according to the National Catholic Education Association.

    The interventions are:

    • English\language arts: Earn equal or improved 10th-grade score from 8th-grade score – A minimum of 70% will pass the Indiana Statewide Testing for Education (ISTEP) assessment.
    • Math: Earn equal or improved 10th-grade score from 8th-grade score – A minimum of 60% will pass ISTEP.
    • Implement Multi-Tiered Support System (MTSS) to support learners who need help with academics, behavioral modification, social and emotional learning, attendance, and more.
    • Purchase software for individualized diagnostic testing, assessments, as well as plans for professional development.
    • Decrease number of dean’s detentions and suspensions across the board by 10% annually.
    • Decrease the number of students on attendance contracts and/or failing to meet attendance requirements and therefore losing credit.

    We are focused on helping our students to excel spiritually and intellectually.

    With finals coming next week, encourage your child to get enough rest, eat breakfast and study hard.

    I hope you all have a blessed Christmas.

    Joseph Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • Catholic identity: Increasing the faith life of Scecina


    I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving with friends and family. 

    In my previous message, I told you about the Archdiocese of Indianapolis taking part in AdvancED accreditation. The accreditation process is tailored for our Catholic schools. One part of the plan is setting goals in three areas: 1) Catholic Identity, 2) Academics, and 3) Institutional Advancement. 

    President Joe Therber and I have put together a School Improvement Plan team of 15 that will help with the process. The plan will help our students to excel spiritually and intellectually. I’d like to explain more about the first area, Catholic Identity, and in later posts will address the other two goals. 

    Ms. Amy Noser, Director of Campus Ministry, is chair of the Catholic Identity subcommittee for SIP. The goal is to increase the faith life of the school. The interventions to reach this goal are: 

    • For the school year 2018-2019, the school will assess how to integrate our Catholic faith in all subject areas across the school to increase all students’ knowledge of our faith. 
      • We hope to have some of our Deanery priests help our teachers with examples of how to integrate our faith in all subject areas. <
      • We will book Joe Paprocki who has written over ten books on our Catholic faith to discuss this topic with our faculty too. 
    • Beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, work at implementing activities listed in Catholic School Management’s audit of the Christian Service Program at Scecina Memorial High School to provide more service opportunities for all students.

      • We look to have students conduct more or all of their service hours at locally approved charitable, faith-based organizations. 
      • Our students, as part of the new graduation pathways (Service Based Learning), will reflect or create a presentation on their experiences to demonstrate their skills/experiences resulting from their service.

    In future posts, I will update you about our goals and interventions for the other two goals, Academics and Institutional Advancement. Should any student, parent, faculty, or community member want to make comments or suggestions to improve this plan, please send them to me at The committee will value your suggestions.

    We’ve got a busy December ahead with Finals and events such as the blood drive, Trivia Night, the turnabout dance, and the Christmas concert. Please check the calendar below, so you don’t miss out!

    Joseph Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • An overview of AdvancED accreditation and the School Improvement Plan


    The Archdiocese of Indianapolis takes part in AdvancED accreditation. What is AdvancED Accreditation? "A voluntary method of quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools and designed primarily to distinguish institutions adhering to a set of educational standards and policies"

    The accreditation process is tailored for our Catholic schools. One part of the plan is setting goals in three areas: 1) Catholic Identity, 2) Academics, and 3) Institutional Advancement. I would like to talk about the process of setting the goals. Please, note that the goals and interventions are in the preliminary stage.

    President Joe Therber and I have been putting together a school improvement plan (SIP) team of 15 people, including the two of us. The makeup of our committee includes the following categories: teachers, finance and operations, advancement, facilities, guidance, campus ministry, technology and curriculum development, academic success, president, principal, administrative assistant, parent, and student. President Therber and I will chair the Institutional Advancement committee. The chairpersons for the other goals are Catholic Identity, Ms. Amy Noser; Academics, and Mrs. Amy Fix.

    Over the next several weeks, I’ll use the Principal’s Blog in The Weekly e-newsletter to provide you with more information about each of the goals and the interventions.

    Have a great weekend,

    Joseph Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • New initiative pairs Scecina students with staff advocates


    A new initiative at Scecina aims to help our students excel spiritually, intellectually, physically, and socially by giving them personal attention from a staff member. This new initiative, now in its beginning stage, is called the Staff Student Advocacy (SSA) program.

    Faculty and staff often are advocates for students. However, our initiative will assign students to staff to help support teachers’ efforts in the classroom and parents at home.

    In this beginning stage, Scecina’s Staff Student Advocates are responsible for providing guidance and advocacy to students most need of assistance based on grades, attendance, and behaviors. We want to help our struggling students live up to their potential by achieving spiritual and academic success, good attendance and behavioral habits. We also want to prepare each student for the next grade level and make sure they are college and career ready when they graduate from Scecina.

    Eventually, Scecina will assign every student to an advocate. Each staff member who wants to participate will develop relationships with at least five students. We want every student to know and feel comfortable to discuss his or her needs with at least one member of our staff.

    Some of the responsibilities of Staff Student Advocate are:

    • Gather data (grades, attendance, behavior, etc.) and track the progress of each student so he or she can better advocate for their assigned students.
    • Be available to students and provide him or her with a safe place.
    • Meet with the students once per week.
    • Talk to and listen to each student individually.
    • .Discuss with each student his or her progress.
    • When needed, communicate accurately and in a timely manner with a student’s teacher and parents.
    • Help students build relationships inside and outside of the classroom.
    • Keep accurate records of their meetings.

    Again, our goal is to help students succeed. I will keep you informed about our progress with the SSA program.

    Joseph Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • A view of Catholic education in the U.S. and at Scecina


    I wanted to give an overview about Catholic education throughout the United States. I thought you might enjoy some statistics about our Catholic students, schools, and professional staff.

    U.S: 1,835,376 (1,274,162 elementary/middle schools and 561,214 in secondary schools).
    Scecina: 428 students.

    Student Diversity
    U.S.: Catholic students represent 20.8% racial minorities and 17.8% are Hispanic/Latino.
    Scecina has a racial minority of 24% and 30% are Hispanic/Latino

    Non-Catholic Enrollment
    U.S.: 19% (349,139)
    Scecina: 27% (116)

    U.S. Catholic schools
    6,352 Catholic schools (5,158 elementary and 1,194 secondary
    Sixteen new schools opened and 110 were consolidated or closed
    Average per-pupil cost is $11,454, equating to a savings of $21 billion a year for the nation.
    Secondary school graduation rates: Catholic 99.2% (Scecina’s rate was 100% in 2017-18), other religious 97.5%, non-sectarian 93.9%, and public schools 84.1%

    Professional Staff
    Full-time equivalent professional staff number 153,289 of which 97.4% are laity (lay-women: 74.8% and lay-men: 22.6%) and 2.6% are religious clergy (sisters: 1.6%, brothers 0.5%, and clergy: 0.5%)
    Student/Teacher ratio is 12:1.

    We have a great Catholic school here at Scecina! Thanks for all you do for your children and for Scecina.

    Joseph Brettnacher, Ph.D.

  • A Catholic perspective on Service and College Visit Day

    On Monday, September 17, Scecina has its annual service and college visit day. Freshmen and sophomores will do community service, and the juniors and seniors will visit colleges to determine which one will serve best their needs for academic (adult) formation. Allow me to discuss briefly about our students’ academic (adult) formation and service to others, which are two of the main aims of a Catholic education.

    The Second Vatican Council’s Gravissimum Educationis (Declaration on Christian Education) declared that “a true education aims at the formation of the human person in the pursuit of his ultimate end and of the good of the societies of which he as man is a member and in whose obligations as an adult he will share.”

    We (the bishop, parents and teachers) have an awesome responsibility of cooperating in the formation of our children. The bishop is responsible for fostering an education that the “Christian faithful” will think highly of because it is the primary means for the Catholic Church to assist parents in with the responsibility of educating their children, according to the Code of Canon Law.

    Parents must work closely with their children’s teachers, who they have entrusted to share in the responsibility of educating their children. Our teachers must be outstanding in their subject areas and “grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine” to instill in our students our Catholic values and morals.

    For these reasons, Scecina sends its upperclassmen to visit colleges and universities to give them the opportunity to think about their transition from high school to college.

     On that same day, the underclassmen will perform works of service in the community. Pope Francis stated, "Love and charity, are service, helping others, serving others. There are many people who spend their lives in this way, in the service of others. … When you forget yourself and think of others, this is love!" (Jubilee audience, March 12, 2016).

    The pope’s statement reminds us to teach our children to forget their own needs, and out of love, to serve others. An example of service to others for our children to emulate is Father Thomas Scecina, for whom our school is named. He was onboard the Arisan Maru, a Japanese warship, taking prisoners to a concentration camp when it was sunk by friendly fire. While the Arisan Maru was sinking on October 24, 1944, Father Scecina was hearing confessions and giving absolution until his premature death. It is important that we work together to teach our children to serve others out of love, charity, and duty. Most importantly, God calls us to serve others, and this is why it is so important for Scecina to have an annual service day. When we accomplish this aim, our children, as adults, are more likely to serve others for the good of society.

    Please pray for our students as they perform service in our community and visit colleges. Also, pray that all of our children may hear God’s call and do His will.

    Joseph Brettnacher,Ph.D.

  • Scecina, partner schools to host activist Jodee Blanco, adopt her anti-bullying curriculum

    Among many positive new initiatives at Scecina this school year, one of them is to enhance the social and emotional well-being of our students by implementing a new anti-bullying curriculum. 

    In partnership with Our Lady of Lourdes, Little Flower, and Holy Spirt Catholic schools, Scecina will host bullying survivor, expert, and activist Jodee Blanco (pictured below). Ms. Blanco is one of the country’s pre-eminent voices of the subject of bullying. She is the author of The New York Times bestseller “Please Stop Laughing At Me . . . One Woman’s Inspirational Story.” The book chronicles her years as a student outcast. It has inspired a movement inside the nation’s schools and has become an American classic. 

    Ms. Blanco will tell her story of her years as a student outcast to our faculty and staff, and students. Students will have a late-arrival day (9:30 a.m. start) on Tuesday, Sept.  25, 2018, so Ms. Blanco can talk with our teachers in the morning and our students that afternoon. 

    At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26, the four schools will sponsor Ms. Blanco’s talk for parents, guardians and the community. Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School will host that event. 

    Our schools will adopt Ms. Blanco’s anti-bullying curriculum, “It’s NOT Just Joking Around.” This curriculum is saving lives and making headlines. Organizations that endorse her curriculum include the U.S. Department of Interior, the U.s. Department of Justice, National Catholic Educational Association, American School Counselor's Association, and more. 

    Please mark your calendars now for Ms. Blanco’s presentation. Together, we can enhance the social and emotional well-being of our students by listening to Jodee Blanco and by implementing her anti-bullying program at our schools and in our homes. I look forward to seeing you at her presentation. 

    You will remain in my thoughts and prayers. 

    Joseph Brettnacher,Ph.D.

  • It's been a great first year as principal of Scecina

    Dear Parents, 

    It is hard to believe that we just ended the school year. I want to thank the students, faculty, staff, parents, and community for your warm welcome and support in this my first year as principal of Scecina Memorial High School.

    Scecina had many accomplishments during the 2017-2018. It is difficult to list them all, so, instead, I will share three of my favorite school events.

    First, I am a teacher at heart. I enjoyed working with the faculty and staff on several initiatives (i.e., teacher induction, continuous school improvement, emergency operations plans, dialoguing with department chairs and faculty, and developing multi-tiered support systems to help students, etc.).

    Second, my favorite experience was chaperoning the trip to Washington, D.C., to participate in the March for Life (right).

    Finally, I enjoyed watching our students excel in co-curricular (band, theater, Key Club, student council, etc.), and extra-curricular activities (sports and club teams). I especially enjoyed any chance I had to talk with parents and members of the community.

    President Joe Therber wrote in his blog last week about many exciting new initiatives for the next school year. Rather than repeating those initiatives, I would like to share our new school improvement goals.

    The school improvement team, composed of faculty, staff, parent, student, and administration, met monthly to write a new school improvement plan. We established three very broad goals.

    Our Catholic Identity Goal is to increase the faith life of the school. Academically, our goal is to meet the needs of all learners. Finally, the Institutional Goal is to expand access to technology for all students and teachers to improve student achievement. To achieve these goals we wrote interventions (SMART goals: Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Responsible, and Time Bound] goals) and activities to accomplish them. I look forward to next year as we implement our goals and the achievements to come.

    Thank you for your support during my first year as the principal. I look forward to working with you as our school has a bright future. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers. Have a great summer!

    Joseph Brettnacher,Ph.D.

  • Scecina's Campus Crusade coming up on May 4


    By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

    Dear Parents and Friends of Scecina, 

    I want to tell you about Scecina Memorial High School’s upcoming Campus Crusade. The event is an annual school community “walking for each other” fundraising event. Students raise money for tuition assistance, academics, care of the campus, student life (clubs and athletics), and campus ministry by participating in the walkathon event on Friday, May 4. It will be a fun day of activities. 

    Students can start raising money beginning on Wednesday, April 18. Each student has the goal of raising $50. (There are other levels for families with more than one student.) I want to let you know some things about raising the money, along with incentives. Next, I will explain how your child can make “the ask” for donations. Finally, I will give some examples of whom to ask. 

    Students will learn about Campus Crusade after Mass on April 18. As I mentioned, the goal for each student is $50, and each student must turn in all donations by Wednesday, May 2. As one incentive, each student who turns in $50 gets to be out of uniform for the rest of the school year, starting on the Monday, May 7. Students who raise $100 or more will be entered into a drawing for a $250. We’ll announce more incentives later. 

    When making “the ask” for donations, students should explain to the donor that the funds will help more students get a Catholic education at Scecina. The students should explain that half of what they raise goes to tuition assistance, but the student has the option of designating where the rest of their donations will go. The money will go toward tuition assistance, academics, care of campus, student life (clubs and athletics) or campus ministry. Students should tell potential donors about their Scecina story (activities they participate in and why the school is important to them) to help raise funds. 

    Who are some of the potential donors? Scecina alumni are one example. Another example is grandparents and other relatives. Neighbors and friends are potential donors too. We ask that students do not solicit businesses. 

    In summary, this year’s Campus Crusade in Friday, May 4. We will have early dismissal (time to be announced later) after the walkathon and the activities end. Students have a goal of raising $50 or more, and there are special incentives to do so. A student can start raising money on Wednesday, April 18 and they must turn in all funds by Wednesday, May 2. The money goes towards tuition assistance, academics, care of the campus, student life (clubs and athletics), and campus ministry. Best of all, there are incentives for each student who raises $50 or more. Students will receive their Campus Crusade packets after Spring Break. 

    We'll see you all back at school on April 16. Have a great Spring Break! 

    Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D. 

  • Scecina's Good Friday tradition


    By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

    Dear Parents and Friends of Scecina,

    I am writing to inform you of our school-day schedule, activities, and student attendance expectations for Good Friday, which this year falls on Friday, March 30. Good Friday is one of the most important and solemn days that the Catholic Church and other Christian traditions recognize every year.

    Good Friday is the Friday before Easter Sunday. On this day, we observe the death, passion, and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. We admire Jesus Christ’s selfless and faithful death on the Cross as a supreme act of forgiveness and trust in God’s mercy.

    Many Catholic schools choose to ensure that their students can prayerfully celebrate Good Friday. We at Scecina have chosen for many years to celebrate Good Friday liturgy as a school community.

    The school has shortened the school day for Good Friday. The school will provide our students and staff with a prayerful experience to remember Jesus’ obedience to the Father and his boundless forgiveness. We invite parents and family members to join us, as well.

    The Good Friday schedule for Friday, March 30, will consist of 34-minute classes as follows:

    Period 1 7:30 – 8:04
    Period 2 8:09 – 8:43
    Period 3 8:48 – 9:22
    Period 4 9:27 – 10:01
    Period 5 10:06 – 10:40
    Period 6 10:45 – 11:19
    Period 7 11:24 – 11:58
    Period 8 12:03 – 12:37
    Good Friday Liturgy 12:42 – 1:50

    As you can tell, the school cafeteria will not serve lunch on Good Friday. To commemorate Jesus’ extreme sacrifice, Catholics fast and abstain from eating meat on Good Friday. As a result, we invite students to bring snacks that they can enjoy during their fifth-period class.

    Finally, I wish to address student attendance expectations for Good Friday. In short, students are expected to attend school for the whole day, including the Good Friday liturgy. We close all school offices during the liturgy. Please place the highest importance on the Good Friday liturgy when making appointments or other scheduling decisions for this day. Once again, I invite you to join us for Good Friday liturgy! If I may answer any questions or concerns for you, please contact me. Thank you very much in advance for your cooperation and understanding.

    Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D. 

  • Scecina prayer service to honor victims of Florida shooting, support protest against school gun violence


    By Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.

    Dear Parents and Community,

    Our school has planned a prayer service for this Wednesday, March 14, to honor the sacredness of life. Our prayer service is in support of a national school protest against gun violence in schools. We will remember in prayer the 17 students and staff who lost their lives due to the senseless shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. We pray for everyone affected by the shootings and mourn with the victims’ families and community. The date of our prayer service marks the one-month anniversary of the shootings.

    Encouraged by our administration, students and their moderators from Campus Ministry, Student Council, and Crusaders for Life planned the service. It will take place at approximately 10:15 a.m. for 25 minutes immediately after our regularly scheduled Wednesday Mass in Scecina’s gym. All members of our community are welcome to attend.

    The service will include an introduction, opening prayer, time to honor each victim of the Parkland shooting, and a closing prayer. Fourteen of our students will read the names of the 14 students at Parkland who lost their lives followed by a prayer, quote or statistic and a minute of silence for each of the deceased victims. We will do the same for the three Parkland staff members who lost their lives. At the conclusion, students, staff, and the community will have an opportunity to sign a banner to support the sacredness of life, protest against gun violence in schools, and honor the lives of the victims.

    Students who wish to participate will stay for the prayer service and those who do not will be supervised in the cafeteria until the next period bell rings.

    Through prayerful reflection and action, our students, staff, and community can help make the world a better place while honoring the sanctity of life.

    Thank you in advance for supporting our expression of faith, and please contact me if you have any questions.

    Principal Joe Brettnacher, Ph.D.