|June 13, 2016 • VOL. 54, NO. 11 • Oakland, CA|
New principals to serve in the
Diocese of Oakland schools
Several schools in the Diocese of Oakland are undergoing changes in leadership. Not every position had been filled. The Catholic Voice has reached out to principals who have been introduced to their new school communities, and will report other new assignments during the summer.
Principal, Bishop O'Dowd High School, Oakland
Community in diversity, one of the charisms of Bishop O'Dowd High School, is not just a collection of words, J.D. Childs found when he visited the Oakland campus.
"Educators who work there, parents who partner with the school, students who inhabit those hallways and classrooms celebrate that diversity in community," said Childs, who on July 1 will become principal of Bishop O'Dowd.
During the interview process, he found "all of these folks live out that charism, and find joy in what they do."
The school's commitment to the sustainability ethos, and its pursuit of excellence in all areas, he said, showed to him that the school takes its mission seriously. "That felt like integrity to me."
Childs comes to Bishop O'Dowd after serving for the last nine years as principal, and later president, of Mission Prep High School in San Luis Obispo.
Previously he served as campus minister and a theology and philosophy teacher at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, North Carolina, and as a religion teacher at Marian High School in Mishawaka, Indiana. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
Childs is the author, with Michel Bettigole, OSF, of "The Catholic Spirit, An Anthology for Discovering Faith Through Literature, Art, Film and Music."
He, his wife and four children will be moving to the Bay Area, where his oldest child will enter O'Dowd as a member of the Class of 2020.
It was in high school in South Bend, Indiana, that Childs found his calling. "When I was growing up, I wanted to be an architect," said Childs, whose father was an architect. At 16, Childs found in an English class "I loved and was good at something different than what I had come to think of as my aspiration." He found himself inspired by a teacher, to teach.
Principal, St. Joseph Notre Dame High School, Alameda
Ken Jennings, an educator with more than 15 years of leadership experience in Catholic secondary schools, has been named principal of Alameda's St. Joseph Notre Dame High School.
Jennings comes from De Paul Catholic High School in Wayne, New Jersey and will begin his appointment on July 1. Jennings will take over from Milt Werner, who has been serving as interim principal since July of last year.
"I could not find a more welcoming and outstanding Catholic college preparatory high school, and I am both blessed and honored to serve as the next principal of Saint Joseph Notre Dame High School," Jennings said in a statement to the school. "SJND is a very hospitable community, and I am looking forward to working with the entire Pilot community."
Jennings has served as principal of De Paul since 2014. He was principal of Benedictine Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey, between 2004 and 2014. His background also includes teaching college preparatory English, AP literature and composition and AP psychology.
Jennings was graduated with a bachelor's degree in English literature from Fordham University, a master of divinity degree from Seton Hall University and a master's degree in educational administration from Caldwell University.
Jennings will be welcomed at the 9:30 a.m. Aug. 14 Mass at St. Joseph Basilica, followed by a continental breakfast and reception in SJND's Notre Dame Hall.
Principal, St. Jarlath School, Oakland
"St. Jarlath is near and dear to my heart," said Rodney Pierre-Antoine, who is returning to the Oakland school as principal. "It's the diamond in the Dimond. Everybody loves the Little Engine that Could."
Pierre-Antoine became principal of St. Jarlath School in 2012, and left after two years to become director of the ACE Academies for the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education. In his time there, the program has grown to 14 schools — or little engines that could, in three states.
As principal, he will again have the opportunity to journey day to day with families, a point that was driven late last month when he attended the graduation of St Elizabeth High School. Among the familiar faces in the graduating class was the little sister of a sixth-grader Pierre-Antoine had taught in his first year as a Catholic school teacher at St. Martin de Porres.
He later reunited with the grown-up sixth-grader, who told him that she would be graduating from college the next day.
Pierre-Antoine welcomed the opportunity to return to St. Jarlath, "where families have a great sense of faith" and there's "great pastoral leadership."
He looks forward to being part of the effort to "make the school a more vibrant part of the St. Jarlath Parish community."
Growth is among the plans. All the stakeholders, he said, will be looking for creative ways "to better serve the students entrusted to our care."
It's most important, he said, to be a Christ-centered community, geared toward holistic growth.
"We're always called to grow," he said. As school leaders, he said, "we're charged and invited to support that growth."
Principal, St. Joseph Elementary, Alameda
With two of their three children — and granddaughters — living in California, the opportunity to move to the Bay Area was a welcome to John and Anne Marie Rizzo. He will serve as principal of St. Joseph Elementary School in Alameda.
"I spent the last 29 years as a school leader — be it superintendent, head of school or principal — in public, private and Catholic schools mostly in New England and Hawaii and just retired from the Massachusetts public schools as an elementary principal," he said.
"I wanted to return to a Catholic community and SJES is a wonderful faith-learning Ohana (family) built on Jesus' love, educating the whole child, a place of joy and happiness, and a top notch education with awesome kids, staff, parents and a committed parish/ alumni/alumnae," Rizzo said.
"I love how SJES lives community and the Gospels of love and puts the kids first — something I've tried to do as a servant and leader for 30 years, loving each student unconditionally by keeping the bar high challenging the kids to do and be their best each and every day, supporting their hopes and dreams, laughing every day and having joy, loving the kids by holding them accountable with dignity, and supporting the very best faculty and staff in a culture of continuous improvement," he said.
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