The Lewis University College of Education honored Maureen White of St. Irene Catholic Elementary School with the Bishop Roger Kaffer Outstanding Principal Award. The principal of the Warrenville school is “a leader in the field of Catholic education who personifies the Catholic values and principles of school leadership,” commented Dr. Pamela Jessee, dean of the Lewis University College of Education.
For 21 years, White has served St. Irene as a junior high language arts and religion teacher as well as principal for the last 12 years. The member of National Catholic Education Association, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Joliet Diocesan Curriculum Council serves as the Region II coordinator and the past vice-president and treasurer the Joliet Diocesan Principals’ Association.
Under Maureen’s spiritual and instructional leadership, St. Irene’s has become a place where Catholic values of service and charity are as important as academic excellence. Students are called to action and participate in making PADS lunches, Math-A-Thon for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Feed My Starving Children, Children Helping Children, Care Net Pregnancy Services of DuPage, Pennies for the Penneys, Humanitarian Service Project, Christmas Sharing and Holidays for Heroes. Academically, students at St. Irene enjoy a rigorous and standards-based curriculum which superbly prepares them for their secondary education.
White concluded, "It's all about the children."
Her nominator, Barbara Houston, assistant principal and teacher at St. Irene, nominated White. She said as a social justice advocate, White understands that inclusive education is a particular mission of Catholic schools and has energetically worked towards accommodating the needs of all learners especially those most in need. She commented, “Maureen has been a stalwart promoter of teaching every child through differentiated learning and has supported teacher training, scheduling and technological innovations to ensure that every child is served.”
Numerous improvements have been inspired by and implemented under White's leadership. In 2002, she facilitated the piloting of a new learning standards report card for early childhood (K-3) which became a turning-point decision for St. Irene and eventually a paradigm shift for the entire Joliet Diocese. It enabled children to be assessed based on differentiated instruction. The St. Irene model was used to create a smoother transition for schools who later adopted these standards.
Many have given powerful witness and testimony to White's extraordinary ministry and leadership. Father James Antiporek, pastor of St. Irene’s Parish, added that “For the last 12 years, she has brought to this school a level of excellence and a spirit of joyful learning. I, the staff and community could not be more proud. Maureen is a true leader.”
The Bishop Roger L. Kaffer Award is in honor of the auxiliary bishop that served in many roles as an educational leader during his more than 50 years of priesthood in the Joliet Diocese. He served as rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Romeoville before becoming principal of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, where he revitalized the school and personally met with each school family.
The College of Education at Lewis University offers degree programs and workshops for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as working practitioners. The majority of full-time faculty teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. All programs are offered on the university’s main campus in Romeoville. Accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the College updates existing programs as needed in accord with the Illinois State Board of Education standards.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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