Listening to the Holy Spirit call her ”home,” Karen Salvador is grateful to be once again working in her childhood parish.
“I grew up at St. Monica Parish and graduated eighth grade from St. Monica School, where I was the only girl in my class (with 13 boys) for sixth-eighth grades,” she recalled. “This is a homecoming of sorts for me. I get to be a part of all three campuses: St. Bavo, St. Joseph and St. Monica.”
Mishawaka Catholic School educates students from all three nearby parishes. Due to medical situations of the previous principal, Salvador will be the interim principal for the 2017-18 school year.
Originally from Mishawaka, Salvador’s own Catholic school education grew from the vibrant faith community of St. Monica Parish. Attending DePauw University, she earned a B.A. in English literature and returned to her home to teach third grade at St. Bavo Parish.
“When the three schools in Mishawaka consolidated, I did not move forward with Mishawaka Catholic. My mother’s cancer had returned, and I took time to care for her until my husband’s job became insecure.”
She then felt called to further her studies in educational leadership and studied with the Alliance for Catholic Education Program at the University of Notre Dame, earning her M.A. in education. She also earned her principal license from Indiana Wesleyan University.
Since 2011 Salvador has worked for the South Bend Community School Corporation, where she was trained as a curriculum coach and instructional leader; she also worked as a Title I and Title II coach.
“I spent time in the classroom modeling best practices for teachers, planned and facilitated weekly professional development opportunities for teachers at the building and district level and was instrumental in raising the performance of our bottom 25 percent in ELA. Ultimately, contributing to our school’s improvement from an “F” school to that of a “C” school. I loved leading and seeing the difference quality teaching and learning can make.”
Salvador adjusted her job slightly, becoming a student advocate for SBCSC; but she felt the Holy Spirit calling her to return to serve in Catholic education.
She remembered, “While I believe that I was doing the Lord’s work daily by serving the students in my building, there was still something missing. I was missing the opportunities to share the Lord’s word and his teachings.“ Since graduating ACE, I always thought of education as my vocation, and I feel the need to return to being a Catholic educator, specifically a Catholic instructional leader. I truly believe it is my responsibility as a member of the church to prepare young people to make God known, loved and served. It is my passion.”
Her supervisor spoke similar words. “From my first interview with Karen, I knew I wanted her on our Mishawaka Catholic School team,” Father Jacob Meyer, pastor of St. Monica Parish and executive pastor of Mishawaka Catholic School, reflected. “She is fun, energetic, intelligent and an ‘all-in’ personality. With her taking the reins this year I am excited about what the school year holds. It may be the middle of July but I can’t wait for school to start again so that I can see how this all unfolds. I am most excited about Karen’s professional experience and passion, which will keep Mishawaka Catholic moving with the great momentum that we have experienced in these past years.”
Looking toward the upcoming school year, as she answers the call to return home, Salvador said: “I am looking forward to continuing our mission this year of building disciples of Jesus Christ through faith formation, academic excellence and service to others.”
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