From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

2001-2002 school year sees new principals, administration

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Aug. 23, 2001 edition of the Inland Register

Two new principals will greet students at Catholic schools when the school year opens later this month.

Jeanne Brown is affable, friendly and in her own words, “very open and candid.” The new principal at St. Mary School officially began her job July 1. She “hit the ground running,” as she recalled her activities since then. She doesn’t expect that to change much when school starts Aug. 28.

Brown grew up in Florida, and came to Spokane in 1984 so that husband, Dan (also a native Floridian), could attend Gonzaga University Law School. Until then, she had never even heard of Spokane.

With all their relatives in Florida, Brown said she and her husband were unsettled in deciding whether they should remain in Spokane. They moved back to Florida a couple of times before they finally decided to make their home in the Pacific Northwest.

Brown has a 10-year history with the Catholic school system in the Spokane Diocese. Her first teaching job was at Trinity School. Her last was at Cataldo, where she taught seventh and eighth grade. She also interned as principal there.

In the years prior she had been assistant principal at All Saints, she said, and still has a connection with that school; principal Kathy Hicks is her mentor, to guide her through her first year as principal.

St. Mary School’s mission statement says, in part, that the school provides programs “to maximize student potential for a Christ-centered life...” That is Brown’s operating philosophy. “What sets us (Catholic schools) apart, everything that we are, comes from evangelization of the Gospel values,” she said. “Being rooted in that is the key.”

Brown said Catholic schools “have always been good academically, but what we have to ‘market’ is our spiritual values.”

Her leadership style is to “create an environment where people use their gifts and become the best they can be.”

Dan and Jeanne have four sons, and camping is a favorite family activity — “We enjoy being together,” Brown said. The couple has four sons, and the oldest, Ian, left the nest to attend community college in Florida. Adam is a senior at Gonzaga Prep. Asa, an eighth grader, and Mark, in sixth grade, are students at Cataldo.

Husband Dan also taught in the diocese’s Catholic schools. He completed his law degree at Florida State University and has opened a law practice in Spokane.

The Browns are members of St. Augustine Parish.

*****

Kerrie Rowland is the new principal at St. Aloysius school, having officially started Aug. 1. “It seems so rich with tradition,” she said. “It’s a good feeling to be joining the community.”

Joining St. Aloysius is to come into a school with 320 students, from preschool through eighth grade. There is also an extended care program during the school year and a summer educare program.

Rowland was born and raised in Spokane. She attended Trinity School for eight years and graduated from North Central High School. She earned her teaching certificate at Eastern Washington University and administrative and master’s degrees at Gonzaga University. She has worked in the Spokane Catholic school system for 10 years, as a teacher and assistant principal, first at All Saints and then at Cataldo. She served her internship as principal at Cataldo and was assistant principal there for three years.

Rowland sees her school, and all Catholic schools, as “a branch of church ministry, to support parents in the education of their children, particularly in faith education.” She believes that to support parents in this essential task, it is important to “hire competent teachers and then empower them, whether through training or providing other resources to allow them to do their jobs.”

Rowland credits the teachers at Trinity, many of whom were Religious Sisters, for her desire to become a teacher. “I was in the seventh grade and remember talking to my English teacher about it. They were such good role models.”

That’s one of her hopes for Catholic school students — that they will find role models in their teachers and want to give that same kind of modeling and dedication to the generation that follows.

Rowland and her husband, Tom, have three children in school at St. John Vianney. Aimee is 11; Benjamin, 10; and Scott, 7. The family enjoys camping and other outdoor activities.

Rowland said she and the St. Aloysius faculty are excited about the coming year, and that they were looking forward to “the work we do in Catholic education, which is the work of building the kingdom. To have a part in that is just a joy.”

*****

In addition to new principals, the diocese’s Office of Catholic Schools has a new face as well.

Joanne Duffy, former principal at St. Aloysius School in Spokane, is the new curriculum coordinator for the Spokane Diocese.

The diocese operates 16 Catholic schools with nearly 3,500 students from kindergarten through high school. While the diocese has overall curriculum guidelines for its schools to follow, each school has “great latitude” in developing a curriculum best suited to its needs. Duffy’s job will be to help schools provide the best possible programs.

“My chief role,” she said, “will be that of staff developer, working with teachers and principals to develop their curricula and to (help them) keep abreast of current trends in education.”

Duffy began her new job Aug. 1. She’s already started visiting schools and envisions being out of the office “quite a bit, talking and listening to what would be helpful and how we can facilitate the teaching and learning process.”

Duffy brings a wealth of educational training and experience to her post. She has been in the field of education for nearly 30 years, the last 11 in the Spokane Diocese. She worked first as a substitute teacher in the diocese. She then worked as a teacher and vice-principal at St. Aloysius, then as principal of St. Patrick School, Spokane, before becoming principal at St. Aloysius.

“I’ve always been interested in curriculum,” Duffy said. “As a principal, I just didn’t have time to work with it.”

Keeping abreast of changes in the field of education takes time. The traditional ways of teaching and learning have seen numerous changes, involving many different factors, in recent years. Elements affecting curricula include technology; performance-based assessment; and the knowledge that different children learn at different speeds and in different ways.

Catholic education has undergone changes of its own, chief of which is fewer Religious as teachers. Many schools have no Religious on staff.

In addition, besides teaching standard subjects, Catholic schools also face the challenge of teaching the Faith and contributing to the formation of students’ lives. “It’s one of the challenges of Catholic education,” Duffy said, “helping in the faith formation of our students.”

Duffy looks forward to the challenges, however. “I’m really excited about doing this,” she said. “Our teachers are very knowledgeable and dedicated and I find it exciting to be working with them on a daily basis.”

She will also work with diocesan extended care and child care programs which, she said, have become “critically important” in today’s society.

Duffy is from New York state, and received her education in the Catholic school system there, including grade school through two master’s degrees. One degree is in social studies education; the other, in school administration.

Duffy’s husband, Pete, heads the math department at Gonzaga Prep. The couple and their daughter, Noreen, have lived in Spokane for 12 years. They enjoy traveling and geology, and were able to combine both in a recent trip to Montana. They also enjoy music and are very involved in their home parish, St. Aloysius.


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