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The Mission and Challenge of Catholic High School Education with Shelly Buhler

By June 28, 2023September 8th, 2023podcast, Steier Tips

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In the Gospel, Jesus fed 5,000 with only five loaves and two fish. After the crowd was satisfied, there were 12 wicker baskets left over. God provides the abundance. In each episode of this podcast, we will explore, with pastoral leaders and development professionals, all the many ways God meets the spiritual and temporal needs of our parish communities, our Catholic schools and the diocesan church. And not only meets those needs but provides in abundance.

The 15th episode of the podcast is The Mission and Challenge of Catholic High School Education with Shelly Buhler.

The mission to teach is at the very heart of the Church; a mission she received from the Lord himself: “Go, therefore, and teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). At Hayden Catholic High School, where Shelly Buhler serves as President, fulfilling that divine mission is something integrated intentionally into everything they do.


Flowing from the school’s strategic planning process and an evaluation of its Catholic identity, the school’s administration and faith formation team meets weekly to strategize and to accept the challenge to go deeper and raise expectations. In their desire to articulate what the value of a Hayden Catholic education is and what culture is required to foster it, they began drafting an aspirational document called a “Portrait of a Hayden Graduate” to establish the characteristics that are the hallmark of the well-educated and well-formed individual. And because teachers must first possess what they hope to instill in the Hayden graduate, the school is working toward a similar “Portrait of a Hayden Teacher.” In this episode, Shelly discusses these portraits and how working toward them is both a challenge but also a profound blessing.


Students are taught to seek wisdom and are led to pursue the virtuous life, i.e., to develop the habits of choosing the good in order to achieve excellence in human behavior; virtues like magnanimity, self-motivation, integrity, time management, perseverance, and humility. Both students and teachers are encouraged to maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder about the world in which we live; an ordered and intelligible world that speaks to us of God revealed in the nature of things as they really are, and of the human person as he or she really is. The four hallmarks of the Hayden teacher is someone who seeks wisdom, pursues the virtuous life, is driven to love neighbor as self, and who lives with an eternal mindset. Practical virtues are also encouraged, such as to maintain a sense of humor, to steward resources well, and to operate from a mindset of abundance.


Hayden’s objective is to impart an education of the heart just as much as an education of the mind. The encounter with Christ alters one’s whole outlook and worldview, but it is also the most difficult to measure of all Hayden’s objectives. It is an aspirational hope that every student encounters and establishes a life-defining relationship with Jesus and Hayden does all it can to create the environment and culture designed to facilitate and nourish that encounter. God ultimately is the author of conversion but prayer, adoration, quiet, contemplation and discernment all help balance the technological, hectic, busy pace of life, enabling students and faculty alike to hear God in the heart, to hear vocation, to contemplate what is learned and to order it all to eternity. Graduates of Hayden ever since 1911 have contributed to their communities, lived lives of service, and have witnessed to the beauty of the Catholic faith. Hayden has every intention of carrying on that tradition in teaching the Catholic faith unabashedly, witnessing to the love of God in Jesus, pursuing virtue and excellence in all aspects of life, and in establishing the intellectual life.

Guest: Shelly Buhler

Title:  President, Hayden Catholic High School

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