Students, staff, families draw new administrators to diocesan schools

New administrators who will be greeting students as they return to class in the days to come around the diocese include: (from left) Michael Struna, Sandy Davis, Lauren Booth, Kathryn Frakes, Kelly McLaughlin, Jennifer Kamradt, Katie Coulter, Barbara Rew, and Anthony Corapi. Brief profiles can be found on this page and in the next issue of The Catholic Post. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Students in seven Catholic schools around the Diocese of Peoria will find new faces in the principal’s office when they return to class this week. Assistant principals have been welcomed at two schools and a new model of collaborative leadership is bringing a chief operating officer to one diocesan high school.

The new principals are Katie Coulter at Schlarman Academy in Danville, Sandy Davis at St. Malachy School in Rantoul, Kathryn Frakes at Costa Catholic Academy in Galesburg, Jennifer Kamradt at Epiphany Catholic School in Normal, Kelly McLaughlin at Jordan Catholic School in Rock Island, and Michael Struna at Holy Cross School in Mendota. The seventh is Jack Schlindwein, who is returning to St. Malachy School in Geneseo as interim principal this year.

The assistant principals are Lauren Booth at Central Catholic High School in Bloomington and Barbara Rew at Schlarman Academy.

Coming aboard the leadership team at The High School of Saint Thomas More in Champaign is retired Navy Capt. Anthony Corapi, who will serve as the chief operating officer. To learn more about him, see the Aug. 29 issue of The Catholic Post.

Following are brief profiles for the new principals, with the exception of Kathryn Frakes. She will be featured with husband Randy Frakes, principal of Immaculate School in Monmouth, in the Aug. 29 issue, as well.

KATIE COULTER I Schlarman Academy, Danville

Degrees: Master’s degree in educational leadership, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston (2021); master’s degree in school and professional counseling, Olivet Nazarene University, Bourbonnais (2014); bachelor’s degree in psychology, Missouri Valley College, Marshall, Missouri (2011).

Experience: Schlarman Academy, Danville (2015-16 and 2019-present); Watseka Community High School (2016-19); Saint Joseph’s College (2014-15); Iroquois CUSD No. 9 (2012-14); and Onarga Academy (2011-12).

Why teaching?: My background is actually in school counseling, not direct classroom teaching experience. I was drawn to the education field as a whole because I wanted the opportunity to work with students on reaching their goals. I felt through the counseling role I would have the best opportunity to work on developing relationships with students to help them see their own potential and work toward future goals.

Leadership at this time needs to allow for flexibility while never wavering from ensuring your staff and faculty have all of the support they need in place, while being open and honest about changes as they occur.

Why Catholic education?: I attended a Catholic grade school while I was growing up. It was through my own experiences as a child that I was drawn back to this setting in my professional career.

Why Schlarman?: Being entirely new to the area when I was first employed with Schlarman, I saw the opening at the school for a counselor position and reviewed the school’s website and was intrigued. When I attended the interview for the position I was immediately impressed with the student body and how dedicated the staff appeared to be. It was the students I met during that interview and the staff that made me decide working at Schlarman was a wonderful opportunity for me.

Leadership during a pandemic: Leadership to me needs to be built on a premise of trust and support of your colleagues. I feel helping to lead a school during the pandemic only adds to how important these qualities are. Leadership at this time needs to allow for flexibility while never wavering from ensuring your staff and faculty have all of the support they need in place, while being open and honest about changes as they occur.

SANDY DAVIS I St. Malachy School, Rantoul

Degrees: Master’s degree in educational administration (2003), master’s degree in reading instruction (1988), bachelor’s degree in special education (1980), all from Illinois State University, Normal.

Experience: Special education teacher/administrator at Rantoul Township High School for 35 years.

Why teaching?: In the summers, as a teen, I volunteered at a camp for special needs students and fell in love with that role.

Why St. Malachy?: After having been part of that community in my role at Rantoul Township High School for 35 years, I felt very familiar with the community and all of the schools. St. Malachy offered a challenge to work in a nonpublic setting and provide leadership.

Leadership during a pandemic: You have to be very flexible as plans change almost by the minute. The plan you set in place at 7:30 a.m. may need to be modified by 9 a.m. and you cannot get frustrated with that. Keeping students safe while trying to keep them in the building is the number one focus right now.

JENNIFER KAMRADT I Epiphany Catholic School, Normal

Degrees: Master’s degree in administration, Illinois State University, Normal (2018); certification in library media science, Illinois State University (2015); master’s degree in music education, University of Illinois, Champaign (2005); bachelor’s degree in music education, Illinois State University (2003).

Teachers have the ability to affect children’s lives, make a positive impact, and help students develop a lifelong love of learning.

Experience?: Rantoul City Schools, Rantoul (2003-04, leave replacement); West Lincoln-Broadwell, Lincoln (2005-20); Champaign City Schools, Champaign (2020-21).

Why teaching?: Teachers have the ability to affect children’s lives, make a positive impact, and help students develop a lifelong love of learning.

Why Catholic education?: The ability for Catholic schools to provide a faith-centered education, community environment, and opportunity to be part of something greater.

Why Epiphany?: The mission to create disciplines, high academic standards, partnerships with parents, and wonderful faculty and staff. I have heard nothing but great things about Epiphany Catholic School.

Leadership during a pandemic: My focus is to maintain the safety of all our students and staff while striving to continue to hold high expectations and focus our mission.

KELLY MCLAUGHLIN I Jordan Catholic School, Rock Island

Degrees: Master’s degree in educational administration and supervision, National Louis University (2017); bachelor’s degree in education, St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa  (2012); master’s in business administration, St. Ambrose University (2003); bachelor’s degree in French, University of Iowa (1990).

Experience: Alleman High School, Rock Island, French teacher (2001-15); North High School, Davenport, French teacher (2016-18); elementary school administration manager, Davenport (2018-19); assistant principal, Alleman High School (2019-21).

Why teaching?: The opportunity to have a positive impact on students.

Why Catholic education?: It was a blessing to be asked to teach French at a Catholic high school and gave me the opportunity to combine faith and instruction in the learning experience.

Why Jordan Catholic?: The families and staff.

Leadership during a pandemic: It is extremely important to listen to my families and staff and do my best to reflect their interests and wishes in my decision making.

MICHAEL STRUNA I Holy Cross School, Mendota

Degrees: Bachelor’s degree in history education, Illinois State University, Normal; master’s degree in education administration, University of Illinois Springfield; superintendent endorsement, Illinois State University.

Experience: Mount Pulaski District 23, teacher and principal (1982-97); Putnam County School District 535, principal and superintendent (1997-2007); Hall High School District 502, superintendent (2007-17); Deer Park CCSD 82, interim superintendent (2018-21).

Why teaching?: I had so many teachers who played a major role in my life and I wanted to do the same for students.

The experiences I had as a student during my 12 years in Catholic education, as well as the experiences that my wife and two daughters had in Catholic schools, were life changing for all of us.

Why Catholic education?: The experiences I had as a student during my 12 years in Catholic education, as well as the experiences that my wife and two daughters had in Catholic schools, were life changing for all of us. I want to be a part of the Holy Cross family in order to provide those same life-changing experiences for the students here at Holy Cross.

Why Holy Cross?: I visited Holy Cross on several occasions for extracurricular events and I was inspired by the strong feeling of faith and prayer during those events. I also talked to other parochial school principals in the area and their comments were very positive about HCS.

Leadership during a pandemic: I believe that communication is crucial during this pandemic time, as well as making decisions that are best for the students.

JACK SCHLINDWEIN I St. Malachy School, Geneseo

Schlindwein worked in public education from 1980 until 2013, when he was named principal at St. Malachy School. He remained for four years and was succeeded by Heather Francque in 2017. He continued to substitute for Francque occasionally, as well as the classroom teachers as needed from 2017 to 2021.

Francque returned to teaching this fall and on Aug. 9, Schlindwein stepped back in to serve as interim principal.

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