Growth, innovation and leadership in our Catholic schools

This is an exciting time for Denver’s Catholic schools! We are looking forward to welcoming back thousands of children for the start of the new school year Aug. 22. Our pastors, principals, and teachers have been working diligently to prepare for another successful school year.

In addition, the Office of Catholic Schools has been actively working on a variety of initiatives over the summer that will strengthen the bright future of our schools. These initiatives are part of “Worthy of the Name,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila’s vision for the future of our schools that was released earlier this year (

While there are many things to share about implementing the archbishop’s vision over the coming school year, I would like to briefly share three of these initiatives as they pertain to growing our schools, fostering innovation and providing leadership.

Growth: Catholic high school feasibility study

At present, the six Catholic high schools present in the archdiocese are currently at or are near capacity. As we continue to plan for the future growth of our schools, it is becoming clear that additional Catholic high schools may be needed to satisfy demand in the near future.

As part of our long-term planning efforts, we commenced a feasibility study this summer to examine the possible construction of up to three new Catholic high schools in various parts of the archdiocese. Findings should be finalized by our office in mid-2017, with next steps shared with the faithful of the archdiocese later in the year.

Innovation: Boards of Specified Jurisdiction

St. Joseph Catholic School in Fort Collins will begin this school year with a different and unique model of school governance. Using a Board of Specified Jurisdiction, the pastor will share overall governance of the school with a group of committed lay people and pastors from the local area. This summer, the governing statutes for the board were finalized and a highly effective workshop to train board members took place.

Similar models employed by Catholic schools throughout the east coast have produced promising results. Of the schools employing this governing model, 70% have been able to increase enrollment and 100% have been able to increase fundraising. Should the model at St. Joseph prove to be successful, we plan to invite other schools to adopt this form of governance in the future.

Leadership: Ongoing formation for Catholic educators to teach, lead, and serve our children

We are excited to gather 1,150 Catholic educators from all of our schools Sept. 30 to pray together and learn from one another. Using Matthew Kelly’s “Teach, Lead, Serve” book and its framework, our educators will begin to engage in a yearlong critical reflection and renewal of what it means to be a highly effective educator in a Catholic school. Principals will continue to lead these ongoing reflections and discussions with their teachers throughout this school year.

Archbishop Aquila and I wish to thank all of you for your continued support of Catholic schools. Our schools are individually excellent, but they are certainly better together as we continue to implement the archbishop’s vision to make them among the finest in the country.

Kevin Kijewski is the Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Denver.

COMING UP: Catholic schools office gets to work on new vision

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The Office of Catholic Schools has hired five new employees. From left to right: Carlos Hernandez, Patty Lunder, Abriana Chilelli, Adam Dufault, Denise Campbell. (Photo by Aaron Lambert | Denver Catholic)

Several months after the Officeof Catholic Schools released a vision document outlining ways in which they plan to continue to provide quality education to its students and form intentional disciples of Jesus
Christ, the office has announced five new additions to their staff.

The positions filled include Associate Superintendent, Director of Latino Enrollment and Engagement, Director
of Curriculum and Instruction, Instructional Effectiveness Specialist, and Administrative Assistant.

All of these positions will be key to implementing the vision.

Adam Dufault replaces longtime Associate Superintendent of Catholic schools Mary Cohen, who retired at the beginning of July. He will work closely with Superintendent of Catholic Schools Kevin Kijewski to monitor, coordinate and supervise all archdiocesan school system operations. Dufault has previous experience as an elementary principal in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Foreign Science from Georgetown University in Washington D.C. and a Master’s of Arts in both Teaching and Educational Administration from Dominican University in Illinois.

Carlos Hernandez will serve as he newly appointed Director of Latino Enrollment and Engagement. This is a new position within the Office of Catholic Schools whose role was deemed necessary due to the rapidly-growing Latino demographic in the Archdiocese of Denver. Hernandez’s responsibilities will be to provide support to Catholic school principals and pastors with outreach and marketing efforts designed to increase Latino enrollment in Catholic schools. Hernandez has previously held positions in marketing, Latino outreach and alumni relations at the Daniels Fund and ACE Scholarships, and holds a Bachelor of Arts from CU-Denver.

Denise Campbell will serve as the new Director of Curriculum and Instruction. Her responsibilities will involve the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of the curricular and instructional programs of the archdiocesan school system. Campbell has previous experience as an elementary principal in the Diocese of Phoenix and an administrator in public education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership from Northwest Missouri State University.

Abriana Chilelli will serve as the newly appointed Instructional Effectiveness Specialist. She will work to coach classroom teachers in schools within the district to support student learning and teacher practice. She previously worked as a teacher who did instructional coaching at Denver School of Science and Technology and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from CU-Boulder.

Patty Lunder will serve as an administrative assistant in the Office of Catholic Schools. She will work directly with Dufault and Campbell to support their efforts. She has previous experience as a school secretary at St. Louis Catholic School in Englewood. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Regis University.