Catholic schools office restructured

The old adage of “try, try again” is good advice, but sometimes trying again means taking a different approach.

That’s what Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone decided to do with the diocesan office of education, restructuring it to remove the superintendent position in favor of a secretary of education.

Under the new system, Sister Pamela Smith, SSCM, will serve as secretary of education and also continue her role as director of catechesis and Christian initiation for parishes and schools.

Sister Pam said they will hire an assistant director for the catechesis office.

The move returns the education department to a system used by the late Msgr. Joseph R. Roth when he was vicar of education, she explained.

Instead of each office acting independently, they are gathered under the same umbrella and report to Sister Pam. This includes the schools office, campus ministry, catechesis, and youth and young adults ministry.

“We wanted to bring it back under the same umbrella because we’re all part of faith formation,” she said.

The restructuring changes the schools office slightly.

Sandra Leatherwood now serves as director for elementary education, working with those pastors, principals and teachers.

Jacqualine Kasprowski is associate director for secondary education and remains principal of Cardinal Newman.

She will work with the three accredited high schools, help with the formation of any new high schools, and serve junior grades that award high school credits.

Jerry White and Jim Grove remain as directors of youth and young adult ministry, and campus ministry, respectively, under the leadership of Sister Pam.

After Sister Julia Hutchinson retired, the diocese spent two years searching for a new superintendent that met all its criteria.

They were still searching when the entire diocese was approved for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in May.

This lit a fire under the search process because in the accreditation report one of the top items requiring action was identifying and hiring a superintendent.

So Bishop Guglielmone, Msgr. Richard D. Harris, vicar general, and other leaders discussed the best system for the diocese and decided that what they have is not a superintendent model at all.

A true superintendent directs the actions of all the schools, the bishop said. But in the diocese, the pastors have final decision-making ability.

Nobody wanted to change that dynamic, so the solution was to institute a system that matches diocesan policy.

A secretary of education will  provide oversight, but will leave the running of individual schools up to its leaders.

“Our collective job will be to continue to excel in Catholic identity and faith formation,” said Sister Pam.

School leaders are pleased with the change and its potential for growth and improvement.

“You can never be satisfied with the status quo,” Leatherwood said.

Kasprowski smiled and added, “The only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions.”