The San Francisco New Orleans District Chief Administrators Association (DCAA) held its fall meeting September 26-27 in Denver, CO. Presidents and principals from the District’s middle schools and high schools gathered at the Courtyard Denver Cherry Creek and also at Mullen High School for presentations and discussions on a variety of school administration and governance topics.
The gathering also welcomed several new members, who arrived a day early for a pre-meeting orientation. The new members are Heather Alumbaugh, Vice President for Academic Life of De La Salle High School Concord; Theresa Flynn Houghton, president of De Marillac Academy; Courtney Kassakhian, principal of La Salle High School Pasadena; John O’Connor, principal of Christian Brothers High School; Michael Giambelluca, president of De La Salle High School New Orleans; David Mason, president of San Miguel High School; and Armando Valenzuela III, principal of San Miguel High School.
The meeting opened on September 26 with prayer and school presentations. At each DCAA meeting, several members make informational presentations about their schools. This meeting’s presentations were from Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento and Christian Brothers School in New Orleans. Dinner and evening social followed.
The following day began with prayer and the morning session presentation by Hosffman Ospino, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies and Religious Education, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. Dr. Ospino’s topic was, “Lasallian Spirituality and The Context for Modern Catechesis: Opportunities for Today’s Catholic School Leaders.” The presentation-discussion focused on reading the signs of the times; catechesis and evangelization in the United States today; and a Lasallian approach to catechesis and evangelization here and now.
For the afternoon session, the presidents and principals met separately in sharing groups, addressing agenda items that members had submitted in advance. The session provided the opportunity for members to discuss issues and ideas common to their leadership roles and experiences.
That evening, the DCAA members were the guests of Mullen High School in southwest Denver. Their visit included student-led tours of the campus, a welcome from Mullen’s president, Carl Unrein, and principal, Janell Kloosterman, and dinner.
Two moving experiences rounded out the evening. First came a talk by Mullen alumnus Ryan Ross, Ph.D., President and CEO of Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado. Dr. Ross spoke powerfully of his experiences escaping an impoverished and crime-ridden childhood, and the personal transformation that he attributes to his Lasallian education at Mullen. His reflection ended with a thank you and a challenge to his listeners to continue their mission as “boundary crossers and breakers.”
Next, DCAA offered its tribute and thanks to outgoing Office of Education Director Gery Short, who will be leaving De La Salle Institute after 31 years. Several members spoke in grateful terms of their years knowing and working with Short. Speaking to the group, Short said, “Over the years, when people have asked me about the strength and health of the District and schools, I want you to know that I quickly point to you, the presidents and principals. To all of you, thank you for being my partners. It has been great to work and be with you.”
The following morning, the final session of the meeting featured a presentation and conversation with Brother Donald Johanson, FSC, Visitor. Brother Donald spoke to a variety of questions that he has received over time about the District and its mission. He provided demographical and financial data, addressed areas that are key to the health and growth of the District, and encouraged and challenged the presidents and principals in their roles as the educational and institutional leaders of the District’s ministries.
DCAA’s next scheduled meeting is June 19-21 at Mont La Salle.