First principal named for Marquette Academy in Ottawa

OTTAWA — Brooke Rick had a great experience when she was a student at Marquette High School.

“I loved it. When I had the opportunity to come back and teach I jumped at it right away,” said Rick, a 1999 graduate who has been teaching math and chemistry at Marquette since 2005. She added assistant principal duties in 2007.

Rick will have a new title on July 1: principal of Marquette Academy. As the first leader of the reconfigured school system, which includes St. Patrick’s School, St. Columba’s School and Marquette High School, she will oversee students in pre-kindergarten through high school.

“We’re very happy to acknowledge her as one of our graduates,” said Father Philip Halfacre, president of the Marquette Academy Pastors’ Board and pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Ottawa. “She has a great love for Marquette. That along with her education and her experience will position her very nicely to become the first principal of Marquette Academy.”

“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity, to work with something brand new and different,” Rick told The Catholic Post. “I’m excited to help establish a new system.”

Rick, 29, grew up in Munster, a little community just west of Streator. She attended St. Anthony of Padua School in Streator before going on to Marquette High School.

While she had started pre-med courses at Dominican University in River Forest, Rick said it didn’t take long for her to know she didn’t want to be a doctor. She thought about business courses that would allow her to pursue pharmaceutical sales, but accidentally signed up for an education course instead.

“What am I in,” she asked herself as she sat there the first day. “Then I thought, ‘Maybe I do want to do this.'”

Rick earned a bachelor’s degree in education with a focus on natural science in 2003. A master’s degree in educational leadership from Aurora University followed in 2007.

She said she has enjoyed the one-on-one interaction of classroom teaching and is sad to leave that behind. Her students have let her know they will miss her, too.

She told The Post that when Ron Spandet, principal of Marquette High School, announced her appointment to the student body he quipped, “That got a bigger cheer than the last snow day.”

“Now they’re kind of bummed out that I won’t be teaching anymore,” Rick said. “So far they’ve been real supportive about it. Of course, they keep coming to me with suggestions. . . .”

Her new job with Marquette Academy isn’t the only development in her life. Rick and her husband, Justin, who already have a daughter, Kealey, will be adding to their family any day now.

That will keep her at home for about six weeks, but Rick envisions coming into school — baby in tow — very soon after that to continue to spread the good news about Catholic school education in Ottawa.

“I keep telling people that this is something that’s brand new. There are going to be some kinks, but look at the big picture and be as positive as possible,” she said.

“It is going to be a process — Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Rick explained. “But it’s going to be amazing when we get there.”

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