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Schools Week Section


Faith, knowledge, service Focus of annual Catholic Schools Week

Network of seven schools to reshape Catholic education

Catholic schools providing teaching love, example

Cristo Rey
high school working toward fall 2018 opening

Majority of St. Elizabeth transfers accept offers at Catholic high schools

Bright lights of
Catholic education

FACE recipient:
'It is such a great
thing for you
to help our family'

Schools
to be closed

St. Bede School
sends shoes
to North Africa

School children
from all grades
learning to code

SJND students
step up with holiday help for families

BOD football team champions

Our Lady of Guadalupe —
with song, dance
and giant puppets

Demonstrated excellence
in science

Catholic schools outperform in SATs

New classical academy
reaching out


When the Christ
of Christmas
appears as
a migrant

When you think
of MLK, don't
forget the faith
that inspired him

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placeholder January 23, 2017   •   VOL. 55, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic Schools Week

Bright lights of Catholic education

Ken Willers

School: School of the Madeleine, Berkeley

Education: Don Bosco College, BA; JSTB, MDiv; Catholic University of America, Certificate in Advanced Catholic Diocesan Leadership

How long have you been at the School of the Madeleine?

Currently, seven years (2010-2017); previously, eight years (1993-2001)

Recognition: Willers, principal of the School of the Madeleine, will receive the 2017 Lead. Learn. Proclaim. Award from the National Catholic Educational Association. Willers is among 41 teachers, principals, pastors and superintendents nationwide — out of an estimated 150,000 —to receive the award honoring exceptional ability, dedication and results.

Background: Member of the Salesian Order from 1980-1990: Brother Ken

St. Mary's Salesian School in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; residential school; 2 years as 7th-8th-9th grade math, music, and computer teacher (1984-1986)

Don Bosco Technical Institute, Rosemead; dean to junior class, drama director, literature and algebra teacher and student activities director (1986-1987)

San Francisco Archdiocesan elementary schools, 7th-8th grade multiple subject teacher (1990-1993)

School of the Madeleine, Berkeley; technology teacher, vice principal and drama director (1993-2001)

St. John School, San Francisco; principal (2001-2010)

School of the Madeleine; principal (2010-present)

NCEA Regional Representative for Western States Elementary Department (2005-2013); NCEA Technology Advisor for Elementary Dept (2013-2015); NCEA Advisory Council Member for Professional Learning (2015-present)

Advisory Board for Salesian College Preparatory, Richmond, (2011-present)

What makes you want to work at a Catholic school?

My love for St. John Bosco's charism of education for the young and my deep conviction that being a Catholic educator is my vocation.

What can a Catholic school deliver that others can't?

Catholic schools minister to the whole family as well as the whole child. In addition to offering our children an education for college and career we offer our families the formative experience of faith and spiritual development.

What does a Catholic school do for the community?

Catholic schools have the opportunity to lift and support a community by educating and empowering the young within that community.

Catholic schools provide religious and moral formation in a world badly in need of Christian hope and virtues

Catholic schools excel in offering high quality education, particularly to those most in need.

Catholic schools are essential to the health and future of the Church and our society—they nurture the soul of our city, nation and world.

Michele Jurich



Meghan Jorgensen

School: St. Raymond, Carondelet, USF, St. Felicitas School, San Leandro

Education: Jorgensen, a member of the first kindergarten class at St. Raymond School in Dublin, was among the first students to go all the way through the school, which opened in 1985. (She received her First Communion from Father Larry Young, who now serves as interim superintendent.) She was graduated from Carondelet High School in Concord, Boston College, and with a master's degree in Catholic education leadership and an administrative credential from the University of San Francisco.

Personal: Her role models in Catholic education include her mother, who taught religious education for many years, and her mother's mother, who was a teacher's aide. Jorgensen is the mother of 3-year-old twin boys, and their little brother, who was born last year.

How long have you been at the school?

Jorgensen became principal at St. Felicitas in the 2011-12 school year. Her first teaching job, right out of Boston College, was at St. Joachim School in Hayward. She taught there for eight years.

What are some of the highlights in your job history?

"I feel my passion for education revolves around helping people see their potential. When I was teaching first grade, we had writer workshop. Every day one student would sign up to read his work. When his turn came, he would freeze. In the springtime, one day he signed up and read his story. It was a beautiful moment for him."

What makes you want to work at a Catholic school?

"My faith life is so important to me. There's the joy of practicing my faith in my job at every moment. There's strength in faith and strength in community, working beside people of faith, who understand what it's all about. We're raising children to save the world."

What can a Catholic school deliver that others can't?

"I get to work with people who have our eyes on the same vision. We're all walking in the same direction. Our work revolves around the Gospel and doing what's right. Our one agenda is very clear: We're all about the kids, being good human beings and living our Catholic faith. In our Catholic faith, we have so many role models we're looking at together. The closer you are to Jesus, the stronger your school is."

What does a Catholic school do for the community?

"I would love to do more community outreach. Our third-graders sing at a convalescent hospital. Our eighth-graders serve a senior lunch. In Washington Manor, we connect our middle schoolers with the older generation in our parish. If we can reach out to the older generation in our parish, children need that. The older generation needs to connect as well. That would be where we can make the greatest impact."

Michele Jurich



Kevin L. Nichols

Schools: St. Jerome Elementary, El Cerrito; Saint Mary's College High School, Berkeley

Education: University of California, Berkeley, double-major, political science and African-American Studies.

Member: Oakland's St. Columba Parish where he is a member of the pastoral council, serves as a proclaimer of the word and is a member of the Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver.

Current job/position: Founder, president, CEO: The Social Engineering Project Inc., a privately held social impact venture to address the lack of diversity in the tech industry.

Background: KLN Consulting Group, San Francisco: a litigation, professional/business development consulting firm.

African American Wellness Project, Oakland: a non-profit organization designed to reduce the disparities in health for African-Americans.

How did attending Catholic schools shape your life journey?

"The real advantage of a Catholic school education is that it gives students the context to be a good citizen, how to model your life to be like Jesus and use opportunities to do good for others. What I am doing now is to help create opportunities to educate young black and brown people and create a way in, a pipeline for them to gain entry to STEM careers.

What can a Catholic school deliver that others can't?

"Its strength resides in the kinds of values it instills in its students. A lot of schools don't let you talk about God and the Golden Rule — doing unto others. Catholic schools help shape who you are as a person, how you interact with others and with — its emphasis on service — how to leave the world better than where you found it."

Carrie McClish



Venus Johnson

Position: Director of Public Safety, City of Oakland

Schools: St. Benedict Elementary, K to 5; St. Leo the Great, Grades 6 to 8; Holy Names High School, Oakland, Class of 1997.

Education: Loyola Marymount University, BA; law degree from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law.

Career: Deputy district attorney/prosecutor, Alameda County

Associate attorney general: chief of staff and and legal and policy advisor to former California attorney general and now Sen. Kamala D. Harris

Former member, board of directors, Holy Names High School, Oakland

Past president, the Charles Houston Bar Association

How did attending Catholic schools shape your life journey?

""We are taught in Catholic school to 'do unto others,' to do good, be upstanding, be ethically honest, take care of others. We are taught to engage with others, we are taught about civil rights and social justice issues. I have had impactful teachers in my life. I can say that I am still friends — yes friends, with my eighth grade teacher, who is now principal at St. Leo School — Sonya Simril."

"One of the most important decisions my parents made was sending me to Holy Names High School. Going to an all-girls schools helped me feel empowered. Two English teachers there helped encourage me to find and use my voice — Stephanie Zappa and Dana Barnett.

What can a Catholic school deliver that others can't?

"Catholic schools are uniquely situational. Service to others was one of the biggest things imparted to me."

Carrie McClish

 
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