January 26, 2011 // Local

Vikki Wojcik chosen as principal of new Mishawaka Catholic School

Vikki Wojcik

By Lisa Kochanowski

MISHAWAKA — The tradition of a quality Catholic education will continue with the creation of the Mishawaka Catholic School scheduled to open in the fall of 2011. This will be one inter-parochial school existing in the current Mishawaka grade school buildings. Pre-K through second-grade classes will be at St. Bavo, third through fifth grade at St. Joseph and sixth through eighth grade at St. Monica.

Chosen to lead this amazing new project is Vikki Wojcik, currently the principal at St. Philip Neri Catholic Elementary School in Alameda, Calif.
“My husband retired last year and made a move here,” said Wojcik of how her journey from California to Indiana began. He has always been a fan of Notre Dame and when he retired he wanted to move to this area.

Wojcik stayed at her school in Alameda that she loved and wouldn’t leave until she could find a position that offered her the same love and challenges as her current school. When she heard about the opening in Mishawaka, she found a reason to make the big move to Indiana. “This is an exciting opportunity,” she said.

Originally from the Arizona area, Wojcik ended up in California with a job move by her husband. The mother of three grown children, two sons and one daughter, the family resided in the North Lake Tahoe area.

“We’re a family that absolutely loves sports,” said Wojcik, who noted the family participates in many outdoor activities together.

During this time in her life, Wojcik became very involved in her children’s lives and volunteered often at the school. She loves music and sports and found herself either in the classroom or on the athletic field coaching; especially soccer.

“I never thought I would be a teacher,” laughed Wojcik, who found a calling during her involvement with the children. She went to school with the intention of being a high school teacher that would reach kids who had lost their way or their spark for learning.

“When I reached the crossroads to graduation I spoke with my advisor who said ‘well you’re right, Vikki, that high school may be their last chance, but middle school is their best chance.’ ”

From that conversation she went into middle school education and began teaching language arts and social studies.

“I taught in an inner-city school in Oakland where I was a middle school teacher,” said Wojcik. She later became an assistant principal and four years ago took on the position of principal at St. Philips, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in Alameda, Calif.

Wojcik is delighted with her opportunity to be the principal for Mishawaka Catholic. She is honored to have the opportunity to create a cooperative learning environment for the families of Mishawaka.

“My vision for the schools is to have a model to use best practices for the students learning and best practices for the teachers,” said Wojcik. “My role will be to have professional development that is ongoing and relevant.”

Wojcik feels especially blessed to be part of the Catholic school system and all the advantages it has to offers students. Not only will a child be academically prepared for the world, but she strongly believes that a private education offers children a chance to become a well rounded individual that will be educated in spirit, mind and body.

“I think the K-8 model is the best model in education,” said Wojcik. “It offers us the chance to look at the development of the children and monitor the child for nine years.”

Wojcik values the importance of educating the whole child and wants to make sure that each child not only gets a strong academic environment but that they also get the opportunity for classes in physical education, art and music.

“They need to be critical thinkers and problem solvers,” said Wojcik. “We will prepare them for the 21st century they will be occupying.”

Since being hired in December, Wojcik has spent a great deal of time traveling back and forth between Indiana and California. She has been interviewing teachers and other personnel along with meeting with parent volunteer groups and getting parent input.

“I’ll be commuting between now and June,” said Wojcik. “In July I’ll be here full time.”

There will not be any real structural changes for Wojcik to handle other than the movement of equipment. Throughout the summer she will be working with teachers on taking her best curriculum plans and integrating the ideas of the entire staff to create a comprehensive vision that will work best for all the students of Mishawaka Catholic.

“I am hoping to create a model for Catholic education that is appropriate; that allows the kids to meet their full potential,” said Wojcik. “We want them to leave the school as children of faith to serve the community and to embrace a vigorous college prepatory curriculum in high school.”

Wojcik is excited about this new chapter in her life and can’t wait to meet the families in the upcoming months.

“I love Catholic education. I love it because it is faith based and community based,” said Wojcik. “I hope to be a good listener. I am very excited about the community and the potential.”

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