Superintendent search begins

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After eight years of serving the Arlington Diocese, Superintendent of Schools Sister Bernadette McManigal, B.V.M., has announced her retirement, and the search for her replacement has begun.

Dan Curtin, diocesan consultant for Catholic education, has been asked by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde to spearhead the effort. But before he combs through resumes, he and the other members of the team are asking Catholic educators around the diocese what they want most in their new superintendent.

"I will be continuing listening sessions with various constituent groups in the chancery and the diocese to understand what qualities and what kind experience, personal and professional, they would they like to see," said Curtin. He has already spoken with the professional staff of the schools office; in February he plans to speak to groups of principals and to reach out to pastors of schools. "We're going to come up with a pretty good picture the kind of person we need," he said.

In the years since the last search for a superintendent, diocesan schools have added 1,000 new students. Eighteen schools have been named Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuition assistance has been expanded. This year 1,500 students received financial assistance. Opportunities for professional development of teachers and administrators have grown, as has the use of technology in classrooms. A large part of the new superintendent's role will simply be to continue the excellent programs already in place, said Curtin.

Currently, the open position is being advertised in local newspapers and through the National Catholic Educational Association. When they find suitable applicants, the search committee will begin several rounds of interviews. The bishop will choose the new superintendent. "We're very blessed (that Bishop Loverde) has been extremely supportive of Catholic schools," said Curtin. "He wants to see our Catholic schools grow and to build on the success they've had in the last couple of years."

The superintendent will work closely with Catholic schools in the diocese, develop curriculum, give guidance on personnel issues and strategically plan for the future, said Curtin. He or she will expand marketing of diocesan schools and help make them more accessible to the large Latino population.

"The most important task," said Curtin, "is to ensure the Catholic identity of the schools," by guiding religious instruction and encouraging employees who are committed to the mission of the church.

"Our teachers are witnesses to the Catholic faith," he said. "They might be teaching math and science, but they model the faith through prayer and how they deal with students."

Di Mauro can be reached at zdimauro@catholicherald.com or on Twitter @zoeydimauro.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016