“We are delighted that the Bishop of Orange, Kevin Vann, has visited our Catholic School to address the students, faculty and administration. During his stay he celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and blessed our new altar and retablo to be used for our weekly, all school Masses,” said JSerra Chairman, Tim Busch.
JSerra Catholic High School announced today the appointment of its new President, Richard Meyer, former Headmaster of Northridge Preparatory School in Chicago, Illinois.
A graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in communications and master’s degrees in education and Spanish language and literature, Meyer brings 15 years of academic experience and leadership to the JSerra community.
The hiring of Meyer, coupled with the recent appointments of Dr. John Freeh as Principal and Fr. Robert Spitzer, the former President of Gonzaga University, as JSerra Rector, provides the school with a solid core of experienced educators and institutional leaders.
“What most attracted me to JSerra was the opportunity to lead a school with a culture-changing mission while working in collaboration with an impressive core of teachers, administrators, students, and parents,” said Meyer. “JSerra also encourages the cultivation of its students’ faith and their spirit of service is something I found especially inspiring.”
Throughout his career as an educator Meyer has received numerous distinctions, including the Disney American Teacher Award and the Best Buy Te@ch Award for innovative teaching methods. Meyer has also presented at both national and international conferences on topics relating to successfully integrating tablet technology for student achievement in the classroom and beyond.
During his tenure as Headmaster of Northridge Prep, Meyer was instrumental in overhauling the school’s technology infrastructure and creating an international student program to enhance diversity in the school. He also led the school’s recent strategic planning process and helped to develop a parent education forum to assist mothers and fathers in their efforts to form habits and human virtues in their children.
“We are pleased to bring Rich in as part of the JSerra community, especially as relates to his proven leadership in the areas of Catholic identity, academic excellence, and top-notch athletic and extracurricular activities. I look forward to welcoming him as our new president,” said Tim Busch, JSerra Chairman and Co-Founder.
Meyer is set to begin his presidential duties on October 29, 2012. JSerra Catholic has formed a transitional council of three directors to assist Meyer in beginning his role as part of JSerra’s leadership team. JSerra extends its sincere and profound gratitude to Rob Dolan who has served as Interim President since June.
JSerra founder Tim Busch was the subject of a feature article published last week in the National Catholic Register.
The article, “The Men Behind the Magis Institute,” discusses how Busch and his wife, Steph, came up with the idea to start St. Anne’s School in Laguna Niguel and later JSerra.
“The Catholic parishes in their immediate area did not have schools, and the parochial schools a bit farther away were overcrowded,” the article, written by local author Jim Graves, says. “So, Steph recalled, Busch came up with a solution: ‘He came home one evening and said we’d start our own school.’”
The article notes JSerra’s strong academic credentials and competitive sports programs.
To read the rest of the article, click here.
He visited campus in December and delivered and engaging talk to JSerra’s senior class. And this week, former presidential speechwriter William McGurn focused his Wall Street Journal “Main Street” column on the rise of JSerra and St. Anne as a new model for providing outstanding Catholic education.
Here is the column:
Tim Busch has an answer to the epidemic of closing Catholic schools. And it has nothing to do with vouchers.
It couldn’t come at a more critical moment. Over the next few days, nearly 2.2 million students and their families will celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Though the Catholic school system remains America’s largest alternative to public education, the number of both schools and students is roughly half what they were at their peak in the mid-1960s. According to the National Catholic Education Association, the trend continued last year, with 162 Catholic schools consolidating or closing against only 31 new openings.
Amid the gloom Mr. Busch offers a prescription for revival: End the financial dependence on parish or diocese. Build attractive facilities. And compete for students.
If that sounds like a business formula, it is. Mr. Busch is a good friend I came to know through Legatus, an association of Catholic CEOs. Spend any time around him, and you’ll find he believes that America needs Catholic schools more than ever, and that they can compete with the best. To prove it, he’s helped start up two privately run Catholic schools—St. Anne elementary school and JSerra high school, both in southern California.
Now, there are plenty of upscale Catholic schools with waiting lists—especially those run by religious orders. But here’s a fact that gets little mention: a Catholic education is in danger of becoming a luxury for the middle class. It’s hard to be optimistic about the future of Catholic schools in our inner cities if Catholics cannot make a go of these schools in the suburbs, where most Catholics live.
Do the math. In my area of New Jersey, for example, a Catholic high school whose tuition clocks in at $15,000 a year is deemed a bargain. For a family with three or four kids, the total tuition can top $3,000 a month. Young middle-class families struggling with a new mortgage and high property taxes can find themselves squeezed: not wealthy enough to pay, not poor enough for aid.
In Mr. Busch’s case, he says he got the idea for starting up St. Anne after he and his wife went looking for a Catholic school for their first child—and were depressed by the dilapidated facilities they found at many schools. Ultimately he and his partners settled on a model where parents take responsibility for operating the school, with the diocese ensuring the teachings are authentically Catholic. It’s a division of responsibility much in line with Vatican II, freeing up pastors to be pastors while tapping into the financial, legal, and business abilities of lay people.
In some ways, it’s liberating for both. Schools replace lay boards that merely advised a pastor or bishop with lay boards that raise money, build facilities, and actually run the place. The appeal to a bishop is this: We’ll help you provide an authentic Catholic education to more children—and it won’t cost you a dime. For those who complain that such schools serve only the rich, Mr. Busch says that financially stable schools have more wherewithal to offer those in need (even without endowments—the next step—St. Anne and JSerra have more than 10% of their students on financial assistance). He further points out that need is by no means limited to money.
“Some children have wealth,” he says. “But having wealth does not insulate you from problems like divorce, substance abuse, loneliness, a culture saturated in sex, and so on. These kids need the Catholic message as much as everyone.”
Bishop Arthur Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., agrees.
“Catholic education is such a value both see its intrinsic value . . . . We are fortunate that many lay people are committed to this cause—and are helping us ‘think outside the box’ so that Catholic schools will thrive in this new decade and beyond,” he says.
Mr. Busch’s privately run Catholic schools, of course, are not the only new model showing promise.
The 24 Jesuit-based Cristo Rey high schools across the country do a terrific job through an innovative work-study program. The bishop and his flock in Wichita, Kan., embraced a stewardship model that calls upon all parishioners to give 8% of their gross income, which allows the diocese to make all its Catholic schools tuition free. And Catholic universities such as Notre Dame and Boston College are reaching out to help run Catholic elementary and high schools.
“We can’t wait for vouchers, and we can’t look to the old model of relying on our pastors and bishops to come up with the money and answers,” says Mr. Busch. “If we want Catholic schools for our children and our society, we have to adopt new models that let us compete.”
JSerra Catholic High School issued the following press release today:
San Juan Capistrano, CA – Sept. 1, 2009 – JSerra Catholic High School announced today that it has closed on California tax-exempt bond financing and unsecured bank financing to refinance its short- and long-term debt.
Specific financial details of the loan were not released. The refinancing and restructuring of the existing debt – combined with better-than-forecast enrollment – helps position JSerra for long-term health, officials said.
“This is certainly an historic moment for our campus community,” said Tim Busch, Chairman of the Board of Directors and a JSerra Founder. “Milestones are coming faster and faster for JSerra. This is one that deserves special notice.”
JSerra is a school on the rise. JSerra’s world-class facilities are often compared to an Ivy League college campus. Last year’s senior class set new standards of achievement in academics, athletics and philanthropy.
All 176 graduates of the Class of 2009, including its first National Merit Scholar, will attend college. In athletics, the Lions boys’ soccer and baseball teams won the school’s first-ever Trinity League titles; the boys’ lacrosse team was CIF Division II champion. The school recently hired a two-sport Olympian to direct its aquatics program.
The senior class dedicated more than 30,000 hours of community service. The school has awarded nearly $3 million in financial aid since it opened. Among last year’s other highlights was the hiring of Frank Talarico as JSerra’s first president and CEO.
“The future is incredibly bright for JSerra,” Talarico said. “We’re financially healthy, which enables us to maintain our programs in the arts, sciences and our extra-curricular activities despite the challenges of the current economy.”
For more about JSerra, please visit its new Web site at www.jserra.org.