Brenda Reichert: “The Lord Is Working in This Building”

| January 20, 2012

By Jennika Baines

This may be Brenda Reichert’s first year as a Catholic school principal, but she’s had a lifetime of experience.

“I’m a product of Catholic education. All my children went to Catholic schools. My grandchildren are going to Catholic schools,” Reichert said. “It’s something that we’ve always found valuable. It’s a treasure.”

It’s for this reason that Reichert was delighted when she was appointed principal of Most Holy Rosary School in Syracuse over the summer. Reichert attended St Matthew’s School and Bishop Grimes High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English education from Le Moyne College, a master’s degree in counseling psychology from Chapman University and a certificate of advanced study from Le Moyne College as a school building leader. Before taking on the role of principal, Reichert had been an Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention Education Program (ADAPEP) counselor for Catholic schools in the diocese since 1989. She said one of the first schools she worked in was Most Holy Rosary. “I’ve come full circle,” she said.

As an ADAPEP counselor, Reichert helped children learn how to make the right choices in life, and this was something that was taught to her by the nuns during her own Catholic education. “Sometimes we joke about what it was like back then, but those sisters really did teach us how to learn,” said Reichert, “and they made us good people.”

This devotion to building not just good students but also faith-filled Catholics and responsible citizens is something Reichert is clearly passionate about. “It’s about loving God. It’s about wanting this for future generations of children in a world that’s so destabilized,” Reichert said. “We’re not just educating their minds. It’s about preparing them for the world and beyond.”

As principal, Reichert said she is learning that running a Catholic school takes a lot more than just loving Catholic education. She knew going in that there would be a steep learning curve for a first-time principal dealing with everything from morning prayers to state mandates.

“So far, every day is a learning experience,” Reichert said, laughing. “I don’t know what I don’t know yet, so I
really am still learning.”

“It’s just amazing that what we can pay our faculty is lower than at public schools, but still we are able to hire these really well-educated, capable, absolutely devoted people,” Reichert said. “It just goes to show that this isn’t just a job. It’s a ministry. We’re here to serve with God’s people.”

Reichert believes this dedication on the part of the staff at Rosary has led to small miracles happening every day. When there was no room in the packed schedule for a technology class, the teachers talked it over and somehow the time was made. When there was no one who could be at the back door of the school to let the children in and out, a retired sister agreed to come every day to help.

“Honestly, I feel like the Lord is working in this building,” Reichert said. “Whenever there is something that needs to be resolved, we always have teachers stepping up.”

Of course, it’s not just the teachers who are stepping up to meet the challenges of Catholic education in a modern world. Reichert was appointed principal of Most Holy Rosary School just before the school was handed back to the parish by the Syracuse Diocese. Reichert knew that meant a challenging year, but Rosary’s pastor, Rev. Fred Mannara and the families of the parish have made the transition a smooth one.

Reichert knows that a neighborhood school like Most Holy Rosary is unique and that, as principal, she has the opportunity to bring it into the future. A campaign is in the works to generate revenue so that all children who want to come to Most Holy Rosary will be able to attend.

“For this school to be around all this time is amazing. And, we’re in this big expensive building, but we’re still here,” she said. “Sure, we have to cut corners where we can to make sure our expenses remain low, but how wonderful is it that this place is still here for my kids and their kids — and every kid who walks in the doors of Most Holy Rosary each day.” n

Jennika Baines is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, NY.

 

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