|June 12, 2017 • VOL. 55, NO. 11 • Oakland, CA|
Becoming superintendent a homecoming
for Kathleen Radecke
When Kathleen Radecke becomes superintendent of the Diocese of Oakland schools on July 1, it will be a homecoming.
"My teachers, principals and coaches provided tremendous support academically, emotionally, athletically but most especially spiritually," she said. "I was a shy student who struggled in some academic areas but I learned to find my confidence and character through the encouragement, example, inspiration and education received."
She was graduated from Moreau Catholic in 1985 and was hired the next spring as JV swim coach.
"That was my first job in Catholic schools and I have never left," she said.
Radecke's most recent service has been as superintendent in the Diocese of Monterey from 2011 to 2016, and as a consultant to that diocese this past year.
"Ms. Radecke's professional expertise and commitment to Catholic education will allow our diocesan school system to flourish," Oakland Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, said in announcing her appointment. "Her experience in improving teacher effectiveness, stabilizing and growing enrollments and opening Catholic schools to underserved communities will serve us well."
The East Bay native sees her work as ministry.
"I believe serving in Catholic education is a ministry in which there is no greater blessing than to have a positive impact on the spiritual and educational formation of a student," Radecke said. "As an experienced diocesan leader, I recognize that with this comes tremendous responsibility to ensure academic excellence and a strong Catholic identity in a 21st-century learning environment."
She expects to spend time after her arrival getting to know "as many leaders, teachers, pastors and staff as possible to better know what the lived reality is within our beautifully diverse diocese."
"I have been away for six years and have much to learn about the state of the schools and the diocese," she said, noting that transition meetings with the Department of Catholic Schools staff and Rev. Larry Young, who has served as interim superintendent for the past year, have begun. She looks forward, she said, to scheduling meetings with the school principals, board members and diocesan leaders.
"I'm most excited to work in partnership with Bishop Barber and each of our school communities to learn from each other, share best practices, and lead with true joy as we further develop our system of schools, working together toward the fulfillment of our united mission of Catholic education," she said.
"All Catholic schools whether elementary or secondary, diocesan, parish or private all share the same mission of preparing our students for heaven and ensuring that they are really smart too — and athletic, artistic, musical and theatrical. We may have different governing authorities but we all seek the fulfillment of the same mission of educating students in the light of Christ."
She describes this time as "a new moment for our diocese." This fall, there will be eight high schools instead of nine; and five fewer elementary schools. Seven schools will be entering a network to support them and help them grow. A Cristo Rey high school is expected to open in fall 2018.
"Our diocese will never look as it has in the past," she said. "Closing schools is a tremendously difficult decision and has an incredible impact on each school community as well as the diocese. It's important that we honor the history and tradition of these individual schools and the value they had within our diocese. We have a responsibility to remember, to learn and to be inspired to move forward with more certainty than ever to stabilize and grow our schools."
The difference between Catholic schools and their public counterparts is clear to Radecke.
"I believe that Catholic schools educate the whole human person in a manner that is different from our public schools," she said. "And that difference is Christ. We emphasize our faith, service and commitment to our communities in a manner that is unique. We want our students to graduate with an understanding of their capacity for continued growth and knowledge as well as their responsibility to be active witnesses of Christ for others."
Radecke's resume is an example of service to others. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in speech communication and multiple-subject teaching credential from California State University, Hayward, and later with a master's in education in Catholic school administration from the University of San Francisco ICEL (Institute for Catholic Educational Leaders) and a master catechist certificate from the Diocese of Oakland.
She taught at St. Philip Neri School, Ala-meda; St. Brigid School, San Francisco; and Holy Spirit School in Fremont before becoming principal of St. Perpetua School, Lafayette. From 2007 to 2011, she served as assistant superintendent in the Diocese of Oakland.
She has spent the past year helping her parents resettle after they lost their home in the Valley Fire in the North Bay in 2015. In this time, too, she has served as a commissioner for the Western Catholic Educational Association for the Diocese of Monterey and led the New Principal Mentor Program for the diocese.
"I believe that it's important to lead from a place of strength when working together to fulfill the mission of our Catholic schools," she said. "There will undoubtedly be challenges to face on the journey of stabilizing and growing our school programs. However, if we remain truly rooted in our truth — with Christ as our core — together we can fulfill our promise of creating a faith-filled environment for our students to thrive academically and spiritually, growing our school communities where our students feel safe, nurtured, and inspired to reach their fullest God-given potential."
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