Three longtime principals retire from Catholic schools
By Julie Filby
Photo by James Baca/DCR
Sister Eleanor O’Hearn, C.S.J.
St. Francis de Sales School, Denver
St. Joseph Sister Eleanor O’Hearn, a veteran of Catholic education for 57 years, has treasured her time in education so much that she wishes she could turn the clock back to make the experience last even longer. She retired as the school year came to a close June 1.
“I loved being a teacher,” she said. “Then the opportunity to be a principal brought about new challenges, being more involved with the faculty, parents as well as the children … and I loved that, too.
“I loved being part of (the students’) lives and helping them to know what the faith meant and what it meant to be in a Catholic school,” she added.
Sister O’Hearn, 77, served at St. Francis de Sales School in Denver for 33 years; 30 as principal. She expressed her gratitude for the support of pastor Father Ken Liuzzi and the teachers and staff, mentioning she even “loved the staff meetings.”
What has continued to energize her through the years was “looking into the eyes of the children.”
“Looking at their eyes and their smiles,” she said. “That makes my day; it makes all the work you put into it worth it.”
Prior to St. Francis de Sales School, she also taught in Michigan, Missouri and Texas for 24 years. The Hannibal, Mo., native holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, and a master’s in music education from Wichita State University.
As far as her plans for the future, she said “they’re still up in the air.”
Sister Rita Rae Schneider, R.S.M.
St. Clare of Assisi, Edwards
For more than 44 years, Mercy Sister Mary Rita Rae Schneider’s heart has been in Catholic education.
“(What I liked best was) the children,” she told the Denver Catholic Register June 13 as she worked in her office preparing to hand off duties to a new principal. “And working with the parents… and just being in Catholic education.”
Sister Schneider retired this year after serving four years as principal at St. Clare of Assisi School in Edwards. The Detroit native moved to the Archdiocese of Denver from the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., where she served as assistant superintendent of Catholic elementary and high schools in faith formation, curriculum development, and in the department of evangelization as curriculum specialist.
Her past experience also included serving as principal, and teaching elementary grades and high school courses in Illinois, Michigan, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Florida and the Bahamas.
Sister Schneider holds a doctorate degree in human ecology, master’s degrees in education administration and English literature, and certification in family life education.
After the new principal “has her feet on the ground,” Sister Schneider will return to the motherhouse in Alma, Michigan. When asked what the future holds, she responded: “Plans remain to be unfolded for me.”
St. Joseph School, Fort Collins
Barbara Bullock retired last month after serving as principal at St. Joseph School in Fort Collins for 28 years. She said the best part of each day was the students.
“The children were always the daily highlights,” she said. “They’re great kids, great students … they’re funny.”
Bullock spent her entire career in Catholic schools including six years teaching middle school in upstate New York before moving to Colorado in 1984. She is proud of the accomplishments of the school community during her tenure including: the addition of a preschool and middle school grades to St. Joseph, as well as a two-story addition to the middle school completed in 2000, which increased the number of classrooms and added art and music rooms.
“(I’ve appreciated) the great staff, great parish staff and pastors—and great parents,” she shared. “Throughout the 28 years, I’ve worked with so many great families really dedicated to Catholic education.”
Bullock holds a bachelor’s degree from Oneonta State College and a master’s degree in school supervision and curriculum from Manhattan College, operated by the Christian Brothers, in New York City. Her areas of certification are social studies and school district administrator. She also holds a certification of completion in biblical studies from Denver’s Catholic Biblical School.
After visiting family in upstate New York this summer, she plans to take time to consider opportunities for the future.
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