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placeholder For many, beatification confirms long-held sentiment

Church firmly opposes firearms for civilians

Faith leaders try to help heal pain after shootings

Bishop’s Appeal reaches out to pastors, parish leaders

Vatican did not tell bishops to cover up abuse cases, spokesman says

Colorado scientist’s research finds spot for Red Sea parting

Jesus was a refugee, pope says

Fast-growing ‘Oprah nuns’ order expands to California

New evidence of communism’s ‘war’ with Church, Weigel says

• Deacon Antonio Barreto

Schools Week

Catholic schools are making strategic plan

Partnerships blossom at St. Martin de Porres School

Dominican schools’ pupils vie for Penguin mascot

School arts festival sets 25th year

Principal Mangini to retire at end of school year

Students share technology

Holy Names plans strategy for 21st century

O’Dowd holds line on tuition; others await decisions

A future for Catholic schools, Catholic culture

Catholic high school graduates likely to attend college, says report

Scholarships open to best in class from across US

Boston Archdiocese: No ‘categories’ will be excluded

Portrait of school offers insights into city that surrounds it

High schools work to eliminate bottled water

placeholder January 24, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Principal Mangini to retire at end of school year

When someone asks what she “does” every day, Karen Mangini is quick to set the record straight. “I tell them, ‘I haven’t worked a day in my life. I go to school.’”

Karen Mangini

Mangini has been going to school for 40 years as a teacher and principal. She has devoted half of those years to one school — St. Agnes School in Concord — where she has served as principal for the past 21 years. Being an educator has given her a remarkable opportunity to make a difference. “You plant a seed, water it, you are part of process. There is no other profession like it,” she said.

That’s one reason why Mangini, who will retire at the end of this school year, put her retirement on hold for a year. During a Mass before the school’s Thanksgiving break, she received a very public appeal. This occurred when the pastor, Father Vince Cotter, prompted the students, teachers and others in the church with the chant, “One more year, one more year!”

At first Mangini thought Father Cotter, who she said was known as a prankster, was kidding. But when the pastor later came to her office for “the verdict,” she realized that it was not a joke. “I enjoy working for him so it was hard to say ‘no,’” Mangini said

Another reason for remaining at her post is Mangini’s deep ties to the Contra Costa community. She attended Queen of All Saints School in Concord, graduated from Mt. Diablo High School in Concord and went to Holy Names University in Oakland. Additionally her family, which owns property in Contra Costa County, has roots that go back four generations.

Mangini was inspired to become a teacher by the teachers who taught her, she said. At the same time, she noted, options for women during this were not as many as they have today. “Women growing up could be a secretary, nurse or teacher” but it was the latter option that made the best fit.

Her first teaching assignment was a fluke, she recalled. She had just received her bachelor’s degree and didn’t yet have a teaching credential when she learned that a second grade teacher was urgently needed at a school. She accepted the position and never looked back.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” she said with a laugh, but it worked because she brought with her an element of fun. “Kids have to see humor, laugh with them when they make mistakes.”

Mangini has served as a teacher or administrator in the diocese for about 30 years. She taught at St. Michael’s School in Livermore, served as a math teacher and the dean of students at Presentation High School in Berkeley, and as an administrator at St. Cyril School in Oakland. She also ran the faith formation program at St. Paschal Parish in Oakland.

When she was named principal at St. Agnes School, she became the school’s first lay principal, which was a big change. The school had been administered by the St. Joseph Sisters of Carondelet since its founding in 1967. More changes were to follow.

Under her guidance, the school building itself has undergone a number of “improvements” because the original school was part of the church. Cauchi Hall was rebuilt, which added a new cafeteria, after-school program, a computer lab, resource rooms and the eighth-grade classroom.

Her administration also brought a variety of services and program to the campus, including a Spanish language program, counseling from Catholic Charities of the East Bay, a healthy hot lunch program, and the PACE (Parents Association for Catholic Education) board which is responsible for the school’s biggest fundraisers

Mangini also authored a number of prayer services that helped students better understand their faith with contemporary themes such as viewing today’s world from the vantage point of the Blessed Mother. She plans to write down the programs she developed, get them published for sale to other educators as a way of endowing the school.

A peace-building program is another Mangini initiative. Father Cotter said students are taught to be people of peace. They recite a peace pledge and students who are having disagreements with one another are asked to talk it through and be agents of reconciliation.

Students also learn to extend blessings on one another. After the school day, they are encouraged to offer similar prayers and activities at home.

Mangini has a “unique way of dealing with people. She does things with a very pastoral sense,” Father Cotter said. “She has been a wonderful leader and she will be sorely missed.”

In addition to various initiatives, Mangini noted that the school was very traditional. Most of the students, numbering more than 350 children, are Catholic. And all students are going to “experience the Catholic faith,” They are required to attend Mass and reconciliation.

“We don’t need to apologize for being Catholic,” she said. “We are proud of being Catholic.”

Asked what her students taught her, she replied that they bring the gift of being children. “They teach lessons every day. They are totally innocent. Look at them, they smile. They are not walking around with frowns. It’s not hard for kids to apologize — that is a good lesson for us.”

While she is not happy to be leaving the school, Mangini said that this is the right time to make this change because too many people stay in their professions for too long. “I want to go out on top.”

“It’s been a good ride,” she said.

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