Schools Office adds new regional superintendants

BRAINTREE -- The archdiocese has appointed three regional superintendents to its schools' office staff. The archdiocese says the move will allow the Archdiocese of Boston's Catholic Schools Office (CSO) to more directly collaborate with its schools and existing archdiocesan school officials to focus on other administrative tasks.

On Dec. 1, the archdiocese's Catholic Schools Office announced the appointments of Chris Flieger, Brendan Kennealey and Sheila Kukstis as regional superintendents.

"These three fine and experienced professionals will provide our schools enhanced direct contact signaling our deep commitment to improved service and direction," said Secretary of Education Mary Grassa O'Neill. "They will bolster the CSO team with expertise in Catholic school teaching, leadership, creation and innovation."

Flieger will oversee the archdiocese's Central Region and part of the North Region, which includes Boston and towns such as Malden and Medford.

Kennealey will oversee the remainder of the North Region, including the North Shore, and the Merrimack Region.

Kukstis will oversee the South and West Regions of the archdiocese.

Kennealey and Kukstis will be added to the CSO staff. Flieger will be moving from his current position in the CSO as Deputy Director for Academic Excellence.

Flieger and Kennealey begin their service immediately, while Kukstis joins the staff on a part-time basis Jan. 1 and begins full-time work July 1. Kukstis will also remain as principal of St. Jerome School in Weymouth until the close of this school year.

Each area superintendent will work with approximately 40 schools in their region.

Flieger said the move will allow existing associate superintendents Jim Walsh (administration and finance), John Sheehan (government funded programs) and Bill McKersie (academic excellence) to focus more on "strategic planning for the archdiocese."

The Catholic Schools Office announcement of the appointments said these new area superintendents will enable a "vibrant future for Catholic education" as they collaborate with other archdiocesan officials, pastors, principals, parents, donors, and college presidents.

One position has been funded by the Catholic Schools Foundation.

Catholic Schools Foundation President Mike Reardon said his organization is happy to provide money to support the effort.

"Principals and teachers are what make Catholic schools work so well and these new positions will strengthen the level of support and assistance for these incredible professionals," he said.

The new area superintendents bring an array of experience in the education field.

Flieger has served in the schools office for the past two years. He taught and coached for six years at St. John Vianney High School in St. Louis, Mo. where he also chaired the school's history department. Flieger graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo. with a B.S. in History and an M.A. in Education. Prior to joining the CSO, he received an Ed.M. in School Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is pursuing a doctorate in urban school leadership from the University of Massachusetts.

Kennealey started his career as a teacher at Nativity Preparatory School in Boston before becoming founding principal of Nativity Prep in New Bedford and co-founder of Nativity Prep in his hometown of Wilmington, Del. He is the founder and chairman of the Benebikira Sisters Foundation, which raises awareness and funding for certain schools and health clinics in Rwanda. In 2007, he founded Mission Schools International, which worked with the Rwandan government to develop innovative educational initiatives. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Management at Boston College.

Kukstis is in her third year as principal of St. Jerome's. She graduated Bridgewater State College with a bachelor's degree in education and master's degree in school administration. She began her career as a teacher at the former St. Matthew School in Dorchester before spending ten years at the South Shore Educational Collaborative as a special education teacher and assistant director. Then, she accepted her first assignment as a school principal -- at St. Andrew School in Jamaica Plain. Immediately before coming to St. Jerome's, she was principal of the Chamberlain School in Taunton. Mrs. Kukstis will receive her education doctorate in urban school leadership, also from the University of Massachusetts. Her doctoral research focuses on Catholic education.