Editorials

New Schools Superintendent on Familiar Ground

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We want to offer our warmest congratulations to the new superintendent of Catholic schools in the archdiocese, Michael Deegan.

If there’s anyone who knows our schools inside out, it surely is him. A veteran educator in Catholic schools with some 40 years of service, Deegan came up through the ranks in the archdiocesan system.

He’s been a teacher in elementary and high schools, a principal, the director of Inner-City Schools, and was deputy superintendent of schools for six years, overseeing many day-to-day operations of 200 schools.

Last April, with the retirement of Schools Superintendent Dr. Timothy McNiff, Deegan was appointed to lead the system as interim superintendent.

With schools reopening this month, Cardinal Dolan made it permanent.

“Our Catholic schools are a treasured jewel of the Church, and I believe they will be in good hands through Mr. Deegan’s service,” the cardinal said, announcing the appointment.

Jewels they are indeed.

New York’s Catholic schools have long been recognized for their educational accomplishments, with some 99 percent of high school graduates going on to college or other higher education pursuits. Test scores, too, have traditionally outpaced those of public schools, and they’re getting better—as seen in results of the 2019 New York state standardized math and English tests for third- to eighth-graders.

It’s no wonder, then, that those responsible for our Catholic schools are so proud of them. And they do their fine work while keeping their sights on their primary mission of passing on the faith and instilling Catholic values in the next generation.

Still, for all of their academic success, our Catholic schools continue to face huge challenges on many fronts, particularly with declining enrollment.

That’s why they need a steady, experienced hand at the helm, and it’s why we’re enthusiastic in supporting Michael Deegan’s appointment.

He’s already deep into implementation of the strategic planning process Pathways to Excellence II, with a number of new programs, innovations, activities and after-school programs under-

way. Among them: expansion of the blended learning program and a special education program.

He’s also bullish on the enhanced after-school programs to be offered at 30 schools that could benefit most from them and an expansion of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program in schools, which he believes has contributed to improved math scores.

A Bronx native, Deegan was educated in Catholic schools and is married to a retired Catholic school principal. He’s a man of deep faith and a member of Holy Name of Jesus parish in Valhalla.

His innovative educational vision is well-known to the administrative and academic staff of the archdiocesan Department of Education and the individual schools, and they’re delighted that he’ll be leading them going forward.

We predict that the students will be happy too —especially if they happened upon a recent CNY interview with him where his advice that they keep a balanced life of work, play and prayer was punctuated this way: “Have fun.”

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