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9/11 concert remembers, honors

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CTK School turns 50; opens new amphitheater

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‘Remember Them’ celebrates Heroes for Humanity — and Oakland

Saint Mary’s College establishes new museum

Youth ‘On Fire’ on Sept. 24

Music, ethnicity hallmark of Chautauqua gathering Oct. 8

New principal named at St. Paul School

• Sister M. Agnes Gough, SHF
• Father Marvin Steffes, CPPS
• Sister Mary Hyacinthe Ruggiero, OP

placeholder September 19, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
New principal named at St. Paul School

Natalie Lenz-Acuña

At St. Paul School in San Pablo, Natalie Lenz-Acuña has become principal. It’s a first-time role for a longtime Catholic school champion, who not only attended St. David School in Richmond, but who graduated from Holy Names High School and Saint Mary’s College of California.

She also knows Catholic education from a parent’s perspective, as the mother of a college student who graduated from Saint Mary’s College High School, and of a seventh-grader at St. Jerome School in El Cerrito.

For the past seven years, Lenz-Acuña taught in a small arts and humanities academy at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord, which serves a diverse community and has the most poor, immigrant and special-needs students in its district.

Lenz-Acuña graduated with her administrative credential in Leadership-Equity and Social Justice at California State University East Bay.

In addition to her education experience, she brings considerable business experience to her new post. For 12 years, she and her husband ran a laser company in San Jose, specializing in the exhibit industry. After 9/11, when travel and convention business came to a standstill, they had to close the doors on their business.

She was deciding what to do next when a conversation with her mother in January 2003 included these words: “I want you to go back and finish your teaching credential.”

That turned out to be their last conversation. Her mother died unexpectedly the next day.

“I always wanted to be an art teacher,” Lenz-Acuña said. She had begun a credential program more than a decade earlier.

She returned to Saint Mary’s College, where she had graduated with her bachelor of arts degree in art and philosophy. She completed a single-subject credential and a master of arts degree. After she spoke at the graduation, she was handed a card from Beverly Hansen, who hired her to teach at Mt. Diablo, one of the lowest-performing schools in central Contra Costa County.

“I learned so much about so much of society I was sheltered from,” she said of those seven years at the school. Among the projects she coordinated was a mural at Rio Vista Elementary School in Bay Point that her students completed.

As the years went on, “I had this epiphany,” she said. “I don’t think I want to do public school anymore. I’m going to apply to the diocese.”

She had experience as an advanced placement art teacher at Holy Names High School. This year, a late vacancy occurred at St. Paul. She began work Aug. 1, about a month after most of the new principals.

She says she looks forward to working closely and collaboratively with the dedicated staff at St. Paul School. ‘”The heart of the school are the teachers,” she said.

As principal, she is reaching out to community organizations to see if they can help fund tuition assistance. Current enrollment is 171 students.

She also looks forward to upcoming Day of the Dead observances, a Multicultural Day and Faith Family activities.

And the girl who always wanted to be an art teacher also would like to get involved in some art projects at school. “I want to start doing little workshops,” she said. She also plans to start a newspaper, teaching students Photoshop and InDesign.

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