Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer
May 30, 2018 // Schools

Kennedy appointed Saint Joseph High School principal

Christopher Lushis
Freelance Writer

After months of carefully considering how to best uphold and continue traditions of excellence at Saint Joseph High School, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades chose last week to appoint John M. Kennedy as its new principal, beginning July 1.

The appointment follows the retirement announcement of current principal Susan Richter, who has led Saint Joseph High School for the past 13 years.

John M. Kennedy

Kennedy, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, has spent 24 years working in education, with 21 of those in the South Bend Community School Corporation. He currently serves as principal of Washington High School, where he taught math from 1997-2004.

In a statement regarding the decision, Bishop Rhoades said: “I am very happy to appoint Mr. John Kennedy as the new principal of Saint Joseph High School. I am deeply grateful to our Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Marsha Jordan, and to the Search Committee for their hard work in recent months and for their recommendation of the hiring of Mr. Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy has much experience as a leader in secondary education. He has a deep Catholic faith and commitment to the mission of Saint Joseph High School. I look forward to our work together in the coming years in service of the students of Saint Joseph High School and their human, intellectual, and spiritual formation. Mr. Kennedy will lead the high school forward, building upon its rich heritage and history and upon the wonderful leadership of Mrs. Susan Richter. I pray that Saint Joseph High School will continue to grow and flourish in its mission under the leadership of Mr. Kennedy.”

Kennedy began his educational career by performing service work at St. Catherine’s Indian School in Santa Fe, New Mexico, followed by three years of teaching at St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before returning to South Bend. His experience in school administration has included serving as assistant principal at Riley High School, South Bend, from 2004-11; principal of South Bend New Tech High School from 2011-15, and principal of Darden Primary School from 2015-17.

“It has been a privilege to work in the South Bend schools. I have learned a lot and worked with many great teachers, students and families,” said Kennedy, reflecting on his journey. He added that one of his greatest accomplishments at Washington High School was to have “brought a positive spirit that renewed the energy of many of our staff, and supported many students through the challenges of high school.

“At this point in my career, I am thrilled to begin a new journey at Saint Joseph High School and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Saint Joseph is a fantastic school with phenomenal families. I look forward to building on the strengths of Saint Joseph and developing a vision that aligns with the tenets of faith, character and excellence, yet takes the school to new heights and prominence. I am thankful to Bishop Rhoades for this opportunity and look forward to the work of leading such a great school.”

Kennedy’s introduction and immersion into the Saint Joseph High School community began with his family. His wife, Kathy, is a 1987 Saint Joseph alumna and their son Marty will graduate this spring as co-salutatorian, after having served as student body president. Their son Zachary will enter as a freshman this fall. The Kennedys are members of Corpus Christi Parish in South Bend.

Kennedy expressed excitement about his return to working in Catholic education and taking a larger role in shaping an environment that “builds character in students through the Catholic faith and offers the opportunity to truly develop leaders and difference-makers in our community and in our world.”

In his hope for what is to come at Saint Joseph, he exclaimed: “The sky is the limit for us to be a leader in Catholic education and in education across the board. I envision Saint Joseph graduates as being prepared to take on the issues and problems of our community and the world, becoming the kind of problem-solvers that make a difference in a positive way.”

He indicated that he seeks to “challenge students to think critically, dialogue and wrestle with issues and challenges of the day throughout their time at Saint Joseph, so that they will be prepared for whatever they take on in college, in career, and also in making the world a better place. I know that sounds a little cliché, but I believe that is what we need.”

Kennedy emphasized that he is eager to connect with the students and build strong relationships with faculty and staff members. He added: “I think the challenge for a high school principal is always to meet every student’s need and to guide and help them through their challenges while letting them flourish with their individual gifts. How do you do this? You tailor your instruction to meet the needs of students, through a variety of instructional methods, projects and activities to engage learners that have a variety of interests and abilities. You can differentiate to meet those needs. This is a place where students of a variety of backgrounds, abilities, and interests can grow and be successful. I am looking forward to working with everyone who decides to become a part of our school community.”

He thanked Susan Richter for her efforts in leading the school forward with courage and resilience.

“She has given an enormous amount of dedicated service to Saint Joseph and primarily led the transition to a new state-of-the-art building. I think this community is indebted to her for that, for the work she has done, and the time and effort she has spent. She strikes me as an outstanding spiritual leader as well as educational leader, and a model for all the Saint Joseph students.”

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