|Breaking Open the Word|
|World & Nation|
|Youth & Young Adults|
|DCR Advertising Rates|
|DCR Submission Guidelines|
August 12, 2009
Six Catholic schools get new principals
By Denver Catholic Register
On Aug. 24, the first day of the 2009-10 academic year for Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of Denver, six of the schools will open with new principals. Brief profiles of the new leaders follow.
Tracy Alarcon, St. Rose of Lima
Tracy Alarcon has lived in Colorado for the past two years but originally is from California. She said she was drawn into education after volunteering in the classroom and never looked back. She earned a degree in elementary studies from California State University and for the past 33 years has been married to her husband, Robert. The couple has two children.
Over a 10-year period, Alarcon has taught in Catholic schools for both the Diocese of Reno and the Archdiocese of Sacramento, but this is her first stint as principal. She said that Catholic schools provide an environment that cannot be found anywhere else.
“It’s the only true way that you can nurture the whole child—body and soul,” she said. “Public schools can’t do that.”
Being principal encompasses a lot of responsibilities and Alarcon feels up to the task because of the support she has around her.
“I want to continue to work on the great foundation the previous principal put down at St. Rose,” she said. “I’m looking forward to working with a first-rate staff and the parents who make up this community.”
Mary Bartsch, Sacred Heart of Jesus
Originally from Newark, Del., Mary Bartsch and her husband Christopher are the proud parents of two sons, both of whom are attending the Air Force Academy. An admitted “army brat,” Bartsch attended Wilmington University where she studied applied technology and administration. In the education field since 1981, she has spent most of her career teaching in Delaware with a brief hiatus in Texas. Bartsch said she is eager to work with all the students and teachers in the coming year and added that for all the challenges that come with this new position, she is pleased at the welcome she has been given by the parents and staff of the Sacred Heart of Jesus School community in Boulder. Their care for and dedication to the school is apparent, she said.
“It shows commitment to the investment in their children’s education, not only academically, but morally,” she said. “Technology evolves so quickly in society today and children have so many things to face that it’s good that we provide a nurturing environment where they develop a strong moral background to face all the decisions they’ll make in their lives.”
Tim Gallic, Holy Family High School
A native of New Jersey, Tim Gallic has been in education for 19 years. Primarily a high school teacher he’s taught every level from sixth grade on up and every subject from biology and chemistry to U.S. and ancient history. This will be his first time sitting in the principal’s chair. He attended Rutgers University and the University of Scranton, obtaining degrees in history and school administration. Gallic said the wonderful thing about Catholic education is the ability to reach the whole person.
“We’re God’s creation,” he said. “He gave us the physical reality: history and science. But He also gave us our spiritual reality, our soul. As Catholic educators, we have the ability to reach both realities. That’s special.”
Gallic, his wife Laura and their six children are looking forward to living in Colorado and are happy to be part of Broomfield’s Holy Family High School community, he said.
Karen Herlihy, St. Louis School
The path to the education field was a winding one for Karen Herlihy. Growing up in the Seattle, Wash., area, she studied geography and computers at the University of Washington before going to work for the government where she, among other things, programmed torpedo’s for the Navy.
“I’m just a scientist who somewhere along the line decided to become a teacher,” she said.
A member of St. Louis Parish in Louisville for many years, Herlihy worked as the religious education director and eventually began working in the school. There she taught junior high classes for six years before teaching last year at Niwot High School. Now she’s back at St. Louis as principal and can’t wait for the year to begin.
“The parent involvement in the school, the common goals and values are all part of the commitment this community has,” she said. “For me, I think my mission is to get faith first in the children’s minds, whatever they do: choices they make on the playground and in the classroom.”
Suzanne Didier Scheck, St. Catherine of Siena
Originally from Fresno, Calif., Suzanne Didier Scheck has spent 40 years teaching at St. Catherine of Siena School in Denver. This year she moves up to take over the position of principal. The mother of two daughters, she attended Loreto Heights College in Denver, earning degrees in Spanish and education. Her experience at St. Catherine’s is extensive and becoming principal seemed to be the next logical step.
“I’ve taught every grade from first on up here,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed working with children, but now as principal, I’ll be working with even more.”
St. Catherine’s, which was in danger of closing when it lost its archdiocesan funding earlier this year, is proud to be keeping its doors open, a testament to the commitment of parents and friends who value the school’s 88-year legacy of quality Catholic education and rallied to replace the lost funds.
“This community is rooted in faith,” Scheck said. “That’s not something you’ll find in the public schools. In every subject, every activity, everything the children participate in you’ll find the Catholic faith being put into play. It’s what moves teachers and why we’ll succeed.”
Mariella Robledo, Escuela de Guadalupe
Escuela de Guadalupe, Denver’s Catholic, dual-language school, recently announced that Mariella Robledo has been selected as its new principal. A native of Peru, Robledo earned a bachelor’s degree from the Catholic University of Peru, specializing in secondary education, history and geography. She has taught both elementary and secondary school for several years in Peru where she also volunteered with local groups that assisted underprivileged children in providing sacramental preparation. For the last four years, Robledo has been Escuela’s fourth- and fifth-grade Spanish component teacher.
Escuela president David Card said the school was excited about Robledo taking over the reigns of principal, saying she knows the competencies and characteristics a student should possess at graduation.
“More importantly,” Card said, “she knows what it takes to develop them. She has demonstrated excellence in teaching and leadership among her peers. We are lucky to have such a talented person joining our leadership team.”