|August 10, 2015 • VOL. 53, NO. 14 • Oakland, CA|
| New principals welcomed
at diocesan elementary schools
St. Clement School, Hayward
"I am really excited to serve this community," said Anne Crowthers, principal of St. Clement School in Hayward. Over her five years at the school, she has come to know students and their families, describing the community as "unique, warm and supportive."
"I feel very honored to serve them," she said.
Crowthers starts her sixth year at St. Clement, where she began as a temporary substitute in eighth grade. She taught fifth grade for two years and sixth grade for a year before becoming vice principal of instruction last year.
"As principal, you're stepping into a ministry," she said.
Crowthers was educated in public school, and served as a CCD teacher, youth minister and Confirmation teacher at St. Anne Parish in Union City.
Her life as a Catholic educator allows her "to combine teaching and having an impact on lives of children, with being able to incorporate my Catholic faith."
Our Lady of Grace School, Castro Valley
On one of the hottest mornings of the summer, Susan Anderson was putting rubber mulch in the transitional-kindergarten yard, helping to soothe bumps along the way for the youngest students at Our Lady of Grace School.
Anderson was born and raised in Boston, and has covered almost all of the elementary school grades in her years of elementary school teaching. She has taught in the Diocese of Oakland since 1976, leading the CCD program at Corpus Christi Parish in Oakland before she began teaching Great Books and algebra to eighth-graders at Our Lady of Grace. She served as seventh-grade teacher, moving to eighth and sixth grades as needed, and became the math coordinator for grades 5-8 last year.
It's a wonderful time at Our Lady of Grace, where after 30 years of pastoral care, the Augustinian Fathers have left, and the Conventual Franciscans have come in, with a "welcoming, open-arms greeting," she said.
Her enthusiasm is evident as the first day of school approaches. "It's never been a job," she said. She looks at coming to school every day as "a joy."
The people of the school community, "salt of the earth people," make it so, she said.
"It's been a very wonderful career for me," Anderson said. She looks forward to a retreat for the school and parish staff members on how to connect their visions and move forward in the same direction.
Besides, she said, on any given day, a child might look up and ask, "Hi, can you help me?"
"That's as good as it gets," Anderson said.
St. Edward School, Newark
Steve Clossick begins his first year at St. Edward School in Newark. Since coming to California 10 years ago, he has served at Holy Spirit School in San Jose, as principal of St. Simon School in Los Altos, and as business and financial director of St. Lawrence Academy in Santa Clara.
His commute to the South Bay had grown to an hour to an hour and a half.
"Time is precious," said the father of a 4-year-old.
St. Edward School is six minutes from his Fremont home. "I love it," he said, happy to be getting to know the students and families of his new school.
In his time at St. Simon, he got to know the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, who, perhaps not coincidentally, are the founding order of St. Edward School.
"I look forward to getting the Dominican presence back on campus," Clossick said, adding he had plans to invite Sisters to visit the campus they served and loved for more than 50 years.
Clossick started his career in business, working for nonprofits, when his fourth-grade teacher called "out of the blue" while he was running a program for the YMCA.
Her request was simple — and life-changing. "I need someone to teach."
From 1993, teaching has taken him from Kansas City, Missouri, to Alaska, and to California.
On Clossick's agenda: It's the first year of the transitional kindergarten; the community is starting to build a science lab; and a feasibility study for a preschool will begin.
Susan P. Garcia
Our Lady of the Rosary, Union City
"I feel as if God's hand was guiding me through all this," said Susan P. Garcia, as she prepares for the first day of school at Our Lady of the Rosary School.
"I've lived in Union City for a long time," Garcia said, "Our Lady of the Rosary is my parish."
Eleven years ago, Garcia was the seventh-grade teacher at Our Lady of the Rosary School in Union City.
She first got to know the school as a parent — "room mother, Jogathon, crab feed" — before she finished her degree.
She recalled walking in the school's halls after earning her degree, which she had planned to use to teach community college. "Do you want to teach seventh grade?" she was asked.
She did, leaving reluctantly only because the credential program she was entering required a full-time commitment. As she worked for the credential, she was offered a job in the New Haven School District and has been an English teacher at James Logan High School.
In completing an administrative credential, Garcia had to perform an equity project. She sought to bring the high school to the community, holding community meetings at Our Lady of the Rosary, in the heart of the city's Decoto district.
"I polled the community," she said, finding that parents are interested in issues of school safety, and the availability of reduced-fee counseling, medical and dental services.
Then one day, not long ago, she was at church when the business manager told her the school needed a new principal.
The Garcia family talked it over; she took "a leap of faith."
As she looked forward to the first day of school, Garcia had already begun to tackle her to-do list, which includes: Increase enrollment, increase academic rigor and build community within the school.
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