Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
July 20, 2009
Superintendent seeks educational excellence
His Edmonton Catholic education inspired David Keohane to follow this faith-filled professional path.
WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
David Keohane became superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic School District July 1.
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. ALBERT - David Keohane has come full circle.
A half century ago, his family immigrated to Canada from Ireland. All of his schooling was at Catholic schools in Edmonton. Excellent teachers inspired him to get involved in Catholic education.
He is now entering his 28th year in education, having worked as teacher and assistant principal in Leduc, principal in Wetaskiwin, and administrative positions in both the Wainwright and Lethbridge areas.
Now he assumes the role of superintendent of the Greater St. Albert Catholic School District. He took over the position July 1, succeeding the retiring Jerry Zimmer.
"My roots are very much in the Edmonton area," said Keohane. "My affinity for Catholic education began an absolutely stellar introduction to the meaning of making Christ present through excellent education in the Edmonton Catholic school system. Many of the teachers I had there were inspirations for me to further my interest in education."
He attained his bachelor's degree in education at the University of Alberta, majoring in both social studies and physical education.
His teaching career got underway at a K-6 school in Leduc. Three years later he became an assistant principal at Christ the King School. With a keen interest in youth ministry, he began developing comprehensive retreat programs for students. His leadership in music ministry and the development of those programs had far-reaching effects, later helping to diversify programs in many Alberta Catholic schools.
"That has probably been the most rewarding work that I've done as a teacher, seeing the faith development and witnessing students conduct to Christ through retreat programs."
After working 15 years in Leduc, his superintendent Dr. Eugene Miller lulled him out of his complacency and encouraged him to become a principal. He accepted the role at Sacred Heart, a K-9 school in Wetaskiwin. There, he developed an appreciation for working with First Nations people.
Keohane became deputy superintendent of East Central Alberta Catholic Schools in 1999 and succeeded Paulette Hanna as superintendent in 2002, serving until 2005.
His most challenging experience was the fire that destroyed Blessed Sacrament School in Wainwright, occurring only a few weeks into his work as superintendent.
"With East Central, it was a great learning opportunity for me in understanding the dynamics of rural education and differentiated instruction through online programming. The School of Hope is based out of there, which is an online educational program."
In 2002, Keohane earned the Alberta Teachers Association award of merit for his leadership role in religious and moral education, mostly linked to his music ministry.
For the last five years he has been superintendent of Holy Spirit Roman Catholic Separate Schools in Lethbridge.
St. Albert Catholic serves about 6,750 students in 16 schools (11 in St. Albert, four in Morinville, one in Legal).
"The legacy of Catholic education in St. Albert is something that is really inspiring," he said of the community's 146-year history of Catholic education. "There's a proud past and there's a great opportunity for the future. This is a school division that has done exceptional work with two mandates of Catholic education."
CHRIST FOR THE WORLD
The first essential component is that the school district be an outstanding practitioner in curriculum instruction so that students can be fully prepared to realize their gifts and, in turn, become Christ for the world.
The second mandate is to ensure Gospel values fully permeate students' education. He wants the schools to be engaged in making Christ known to students in what they know, value and do.
Faith education is rooted in catechesis, knowledge about the Catholic faith. It is also rooted, he said, in evangelization, reaching out to those students who may not be Catholic but can grow in understanding of their own faith through the model of Catholic education.
Every initiative must relate to the overall mission and mandates of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools.
"There is a danger in high-performance organizations to be a mile wide and an inch deep, to take on a broad breath of initiatives, and it's hard for people to gain a sense of meaning, how does this connect.
"One of the things I've asked our senior admin team to do is to provide me with a visual that would not be dissimilar to what a doughnut looks like. I want them to connect the dots for me of all the educational experiences, how they connect to the main thing," he said.
This approach is aimed at ensuring that what they do, they do well.
"Leadership is about influence. A superintendent is followed not because he has the title of superintendent. A superintendent is followed because he is able to lead people to pursue things that are meaningful," he said.