Tuesday, September 3, 2019
Tom Tracy - Florida Catholic
FORT LAUDERDALE | Prepping students for the jobs of tomorrow, giving them a foundation in Catholic faith and ensuring all that learning takes place in a safe environment are the priorities of the new leadership team at Cardinal Gibbons High School.
“Certainly one of the priorities is making sure the campus is always safe and always improving campus safety in the world we live in, but also making sure that our education is continually evolving for the student of tomorrow and for the jobs of 10 or 15 years down the road — those are two big (areas of) focus,” said Oscar Cedeño, Cardinal Gibbons’ new principal.
Formerly the dean of students and assistant principal for student affairs, Cedeño himself is a product of Catholic education in South Florida. He said the school is committed to Catholic values as well preparing students for the fast-changing realities of the workforce.
He spoke to the Florida Catholic in advance of the annual Mass opening the new school year. Archbishop Thomas Wenski presided at the Mass Aug. 22.
Cedeño noted that many recent graduates from Cardinal Gibbons have been taking advantage of in-state tuition rates by attending colleges and universities within Florida, including the University of Central Florida in Orlando and Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton — two fast-growing state university campuses.
Cedeño said he looks forward to continuing his role in Catholic education “and I am humbled to be in this position to be leading the school.”
New to the leadership structure this year is the position of president, which has been filled by Thomas E. Mahon, a veteran teacher and administrator at Gibbons for more than 30 years. He most recently served as assistant principal of faculty development.
Mahon said he will focus on the Cardinal Gibbon’s overall mission and operations, articularly in areas related to finance, development, external relations and securing the school’s future. The principal will engage more in the day-to-day operations, such as staffing, teacher and administrative issues.
The model is currently in use in many Catholic secondary schools across the country, and several in the archdiocese, including Jesuit-run Belen and Marist-run Columbus high schools in Miami, as well as Marianist-run Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood. A new president-principal team also is in place at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami.
“We love our kids and we have quite a group of dedicated, qualified and enthusiastic teachers who are eager to work with our kids; we are going to have a great year,” Mahon said.
He noted that Cardinal Gibbons draws students from local Catholic elementary “feeder schools” but also elsewhere.
“More and more we are getting kids from public schools and charter schools in the area, and so we have widened our scope,” Mahon said, noting that several of its Catholic feeder schools have closed in recent years. He added that Cardinal Gibbons students come from as far away as Miami and Boca Raton and throughout Broward County.
Kim Pryzbylski, superintendent of schools for the archdiocese, has noted that the president-principal model initiates a new vision for administering Catholic secondary schools in the archdiocese, with the overall goal of continuing the pursuit of excellence.
“We are hopeful we’ll adopt this model in the future,” Pryzbylski said. “Many of our schools are doing our ‘STREAM’ program: science technology, religion, engineering, arts and math. That has been a great thing for students because it’s a blended learning with more than one subject together (and) the students engaged in many projects and activities. We put in religion and arts which broadens the (student) perspective.”