This week’s Catholic School Matters Radio Hour (Episode 153) features five great Catholic school leaders sharing their stories. It’s a long episode but chock full of great content. The first guest (1:55) is Jason Curtis, the current principal of Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh who has taken a new job as President of Saint Francis High School in the Bay Area. He describes his discernment process and how he heard God’s call as well as his efforts to instill student leadership at Cardinal Gibbons.
The next guest (21:05) is Superintendent Stephen Perla of the Diocese of Fall River. Steve is both a superintendent and a seminarian studying to be a priest. He talks about he came to the decision to join the seminary and his unique position to speak to priestly formation regarding Catholic education. He is heading up an effort to investigate how IDEA is being implemented in Catholic schools and how it can be improved. This effort is part of the USCCB Committee on Education efforts.
Dr. Beate Nguyen, the principal of St. Augustine School in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles joins the podcast (at the 41:05 mark) to discuss the efforts of a group of LA Catholic school principals to learn from Finland. This study tour of 12 principals was a cohort which worked together to observe and learn from the Finnish system. She discussed how much trust is part of the Finnish system—from the trust parents have in their children to the trust in the educators. She has also travelled to Dubai as part of the Global Education & Skills Forum 2019. Here is the link to her recent dissertation on the topic of global education, one of her efforts at her current school. She talks about what she loves about being a Catholic principal—she doesn’t think she “walks alone” and enjoys the joys of school leadership.
Dr. Paul Barker, the president of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland joins the podcast (1:02) to discuss the unique character of his school. As one of the first International Baccaleureate (IB) Catholic high schools, he discusses this unique program. As a member of the Xaverian Brothers network, he also discusses their unique charism. Good Counsel’s move to the outer suburbs in 2007 involved building a new school and it is now the only DC-area Catholic high school built in the 21st century.
Mary Ann Murphy, the outstanding principal of Immaculate Conception Catholic School in downtown Los Angeles for 31 years, joins the podcast at the 1:28 mark. She is retiring this year after a remarkable tenure and shares her story and joys of leading the school in a high poverty Catholic school, including a visit from St. John Paul II in her first year as principal. It is a remarkable look at how an inner-city school survives and thrives, benefiting from Loyola Marymount’s iDEAL institute for blended learning and tuition assistance from the Catholic Education Foundation. She also highlighted the Onward Leader program for aspiring principals. Her wisdom from Dr. Ann Garrido’s book Redeeming Administration that the “ministry is the interruptions” is applicable to all.