New School Year Full of Opportunities at Mary Queen of Saints

By Michael Derrick, Principal, Mary Queen of Saints Catholic Academy

The 2016-17 school year at Mary Queen of Saints Catholic Academy in West Allis is underway and I’m excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

While this is my first year as principal, it’s not my first experience in Catholic education.  I began my career at St. Anthony High School in Milwaukee as a teacher, coach and department chair.  Last year, I became of a part of the Seton Catholic Schools network as the Dean of Students at St. Rafael the Archangel school in Milwaukee.  During that time, I gained first-hand experience in educational administration and learned about the Seton Catholic Schools academic model.

Seven local parishes support Mary Queen of Saints, so collaboration is key, and it’s also at the heart of Seton Catholic Schools model. Recently, I participated in an engagement summit where pastors and school leaders discussed how to strengthen the school-parish relationship. I value the community dialogue around the best interests of our students.

I have many opportunities to grow as a leader within the network, including leadership coaching.  Every week, an experienced Catholic school leader provides instructional coaching to me.  We share ideas and discuss strategies to improve academic achievement for all students.

Working as a school leader within the Seton Catholic Schools network is unique because it allows principals to get out of the office and into classrooms, working with teachers to build classroom culture, co-plan lessons and analyze student achievement.  We know that the classroom teacher has the greatest impact on student success, so it’s critical that school principals provide guidance and support to all faculty members in high-performance instructional techniques.

This year is exciting on several fronts, our enrollment is up 20%; a generous donation afforded five chromebooks for each classroom to support blended learning; and after the first year in the Seton network, we saw incredible student growth.  On average, students grew 164% in math and 153%, in reading.  Over the course of this year, I will share my journey as a first-year principal within the Seton network with the Catholic Herald. (You can read more about my journey here.)

I look forward to sharing our journey this year at Mary Queen of Saints and to building upon our strong results in faith formation and student achievement.