Turnaround: saving a Brooklyn Catholic school—and tripling its enrollment

How’d he do that?

From the In My Backyard Desk, via The New York Daily News:

In the face of declining enrollment at Catholic schools throughout the city, Principal Kevin Coyne has built a thriving academy.

When the devout Catholic and fan of Pope Francis took over a closing school in the Brooklyn Diocese roughly five years ago and opened Our Lady’s Catholic Academy, he started with around 260 kids in one building.

By September, the academy in Ozone Park, Queens, will have over 700 students at two campuses, bucking the citywide trend at Catholic schools where enrollment declined by 35% from 2003 to 2013.

“I tell every parent when they register that every child is an individual creation of God,” said Coyne, 35. “And we meet them where they are. It’s our job as educators to learn what their needs, and strengths are.”

For building a prosperous Catholic school in spite of the odds, Kevin Coyne has been nominated as a Daily News Hometown Hero in Education.

He took great pride in his school’s zero-tolerance policy regarding violence — whether it be verbal, physical or even online, where bullying over Facebook and Twitter has become increasingly common.

That philosophy led to his proudest moment as an educator. On Oct. 8 — he remembered the day — two eighth-graders asked him if they could organize a dress-down day in which students would wear hoodies in honor of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

The idea blossomed into a schoolwide event in which students, faculty and staff wore hoodies. The students raised $1,032 for the Trayvon Martin Foundation.

“That was one of the most emotional and proudest moments I’ve had. It was the culmination of everything I hope I’ve been cultivating,” he said.

Read more. 

And learn more about what Kevin Coyne has done here and here.