Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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St. Paschal School greets new academic year with new principal
Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff
(From the Aug. 21, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)
Rick Pelkie (right) is the new principal of St. Pachal School in Spokane Valley. (IR photo)
This school year, the Catholic schools of the Spokane Diocese will see only one new principal: Rick Pelkie of St. Paschal School, Spokane Valley.
Pelkie takes the helm after working nine years at St. Thomas More School. In addition, he will also teach the school’s combined seventh and eighth grade class half-time.
St. Paschal School has struggled financially this past year. The school has one year to raise enrollment and establish a solid financial footing (“Parents, supporters pledge extra efforts to keep St. Paschal School open,” IR 5/22/03). Pelkie knows he has his work cut out for him, but is looking forward with optimism. He said everyone is continuing to work “very hard” to meet the deadline.
Pelkie was born and raised in Spokane. He calls himself a “north-side boy,” a former member of St. Charles Parish and now at St. Thomas More Parish. He graduated from North Central High School. He attended Eastern Washington University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. His master’s degree came through the outreach program of Leslie College in Cambridge, Mass., and his administrator’s credentials are from Washington State University in Spokane.
At St. Thomas More he was a teacher and athletic director for six years, then traded in the athletics to become the assistant principal. He credits that first teaching job as “a great experience. I was very fortunate to work for (the late) Ann Doherty,” the school’s principal at that time. “She truly made me a believer in the mission (of Catholic education).”
That mission is to educate the whole child. “Academics are very important,” Pelkie said, “but they’re not the only thing. Children also need to be educated spiritually, socially and physically.” Which one is the most important? Spirituality, he says, and toward that end Pelkie plans to introduce student retreats at the school.
Academically, Pelkie believes in teaching students “to be lifelong learners.” That’s why, he said, it’s important that students learn good study skills. “When they know how to do research and have writing skills, they can have a love of learning” to last all their lives. Homework has value, he said, in that it “teaches kids the habits of time management and studying outside of class.”
Outside his own school time, Pelkie is a family man. He is the husband of Melissa and the father of five-year-old Ethan and two-year-old Hannah. “If I’m not here (at school), I’m with them,” he said. The Pelkie family is growing; they are expecting their third child in March.
Pelkie is now in charge of a much larger “family” that has a staff of seven and, at this writing, a student body population of 71. He is a Catholic school booster and said he is “quite happy” to be in Catholic schools where education can be designed to help students achieve their best.
“That’s what it’s about,” Pelkie said. “The best part of my job is the students. ”