Maureen Schuerman, president of the Whitefish Bay school for three years, and the recipient of the 2009 Marketing Educator’s Award at the Archbishop’s Annual Catholic Schools Dinner in January for her work to improve Catholic education, declined to comment on the resignation.
Edward Kovochich, DHS principal since 2007, could not be reached for comment.
Dominican officials directed calls regarding the resignations to the Bill Curtis, chair of the board of directors at Dominican, who did not return several calls from your Catholic Herald.
Officials from the school’s designated transition team were scheduled to hold a meeting with parents on Tuesday evening, June 2. Sinsinawa Dominican Sr. Mary Howard Johnstone, director of mission effectiveness for the Sinsinawa Dominicans, the religious order that sponsors the school, said the team, comprised of men and women, current and former board members and other people with backgrounds in archdiocesan work and education, was established to move things forward at Dominican.
Of the half-dozen people who make up the team, Sr. Mary Howard said she thought it was a strong sign that the people, given their experience, are knowledgeable in the areas of education and organization to help the school.
Questions may remain concerning the resignations, but Sr. Mary Howard said there is no question about the continuation of the Dominican heritage, tradition and mission, which are deeply rooted in community and provide quality education in a smaller, but diverse population.
“And they certainly have been a school that I know will continue in their excellence – both in their academic programs as well as their extracurricular programs,” Sr. Mary Howard said, explaining that the way the school creates a niche for each student – whether it’s sports, fine arts or other extracurriculars – has always amazed her.
Challenges lie ahead, she acknowledged, but that Dominican is not unique in its challenges, she said.
“There’s always that kind of recommitment at the end of the school year, and going into a new school year, there’s always that recommitment to that building of community and that building of communication and that real commitment to the students,” she said in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald. “So, that certainly is something that I think, as Dominican goes through difficult times of transitioning and looking at the new, they certainly are going to build on the past and, as I said before, really (look) at continuing the excellent academic and extracurricular programs.”
Prior to becoming principal at Dominican, Kovochich, a member of Mother of Good Counsel Parish, Milwaukee, who was featured in a story in the Jan. 29 issue of your Catholic Herald, retired as principal of Bradley Trade and Technical High School, Milwaukee. He had worked in education for more than 30 years, much of his time in the Milwaukee Public Schools system. He also served as principal at Juneau High School and Madison University High School, both in Milwaukee. Three of Kovochich’s five sons attended Dominican.
Schuerman attended Dominican High School for two years before her family moved from the area. According to her biography on the Dominican Web site, before returning to Dominican as president in 2006, she was owner and president of a nationwide consulting firm which provided guidance in strategic planning, fundraising and enrollment management to not-for-profit organizations, including several Catholic schools. She also held leadership and development positions at Marquette University, St. Catherine High School, Racine, and Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart in Lake Forest, Ill.
Since Schuerman and Kovochich began leading the school, Sr. Mary Howard said they provided the leadership at a time that was right for them – enrollment increased and relationships were built between new donors with Schuerman’s help, among other things.
“New leadership will come in and I think continue the excellence that has existed, and we want to continue to exist and to provide for, like I said before, really a diverse population and a smaller school, and clearly to build a real faith community,” she said, adding, “I think that’s been a really strong part of Dominican’s commitment.”
Chuck Allison, director of the archdiocesan Catholic schools office, said that the role of the archdiocese in working with Dominican will remain the same.
“The archdiocese will always try to assist in recruiting in any way we can in terms of posting job descriptions just as well as any counsel we can give to any potential candidates,” he said in a phone interview with your Catholic Herald.
Since this isn’t the first challenge that Dominican has been through, Sr. Mary Howard said the competence and dedication of the sisters and lay people will keep Dominican strong.
“I really believe that the ‘rootedness’ in that value of community will continue to carry us through, continue to attract wonderful people, and I think they’ll attract wonderful leadership,” she added.
Current enrollment at DHS is at 367; enrollment for the 2009-10 school year is at 358.
Contributing to this story was Amy E. Rewolinski.