Diocese honors outgoing superintendent

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Mary Wieser accepts a certificate of appreciation from Msgr. John Hyland at the chancery in Davenport June 15.

By Barb Arland-Fye

DAVENPORT — Mary Wieser, outgoing superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Davenport, has been honored for the 13 years she’s served in that position. Msgr. John Hyland, the diocese’s vicar general, presented Wieser with a certificate of appreciation June 15 at chancery headquarters in Davenport.

“I truly do appreciate this,” said Wieser, a longtime educator who is leaving the superintendent position June 30 to focus attention on her role as the diocese’s Faith Formation director. “I will be able to devote all of my time and effort to faith formation in all its various forms,” she said.

Leland “Lee” Morrison, superintendent of the Burlington Community School District, will become diocesan school superintendent on July 1. “I’m looking forward to the gifts and talents Lee brings to education,” Wieser said. “We’re working together to make a very smooth transition.”

She’s been juggling the diocesan superintendent and faith formation roles for several years as a result of diocesan financial constraints. The diocese emerged from bankruptcy in 2008. During her tenure, the diocese has developed curriculum that is “as updated as any curriculum in the state of Iowa,” she said. With her expertise, the diocese established a Safe Environment program that educates volunteers, educators, parents and children in sexual abuse-prevention measures and created a Diocesan Board of Education whose members represent the diocese’s six deaneries.

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“It took us a whole year to get the Board of Education together and to get our bylaws and constitution and to get policies in place that pertain to faith formation,” she said. “We’ve done significant work in the last 13 years in terms of policy development.”

Chad Steimle, principal of John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Davenport, describes Wieser as a selfless leader. “We’ve had a lot of good things that have gone on in our diocese since she’s been here, things for which I don’t think she’s ever taken credit for.” For example, “we’ve got K-12 curriculum guides for every subject area. We’ve done diocesan assessments that match up with those curriculum guides. She’s developed common teacher evaluations for all schools. She’s been instrumental in working with STOs (School Tuition Organizations) and getting those established,” Steimle said. “That’s behind the scenes. Without it, everybody would be on their own doing their own thing.”

He believes she has raised the bar in terms of quality Catholic education in the diocese, and he appreciates her collaborative style of leadership. “She’s involved principals in leadership roles — and it hasn’t just been in one part of the diocese.”

Doris Turner, principal of Holy Trinity Catholic Junior/Senior High School in Fort Madison, says Wieser “was very proactive for us as principals. When she came she immediately started to update our curriculum and made sure that we have diocesan curriculum in place.”

Wieser is “a very child-centered superintendent. She was always reminding us to ask ourselves, ‘what’s best for the student?’” She’s active in the National Catholic Education Association and works with the Iowa Catholic Conference to pursue the Catholic goals for education, Turner added. “Although I’ll miss her, I think she’ll do wonderfully in faith formation.”

Ron Glasgow, principal of Notre Dame Junior/Senior High School in Burlington, said Wieser’s support was invaluable as he made the transition from 35 years in the public school system. He’s just completed his third year as Notre Dame’s principal.

“I needed someone who could give me good perspective, and she was that person,” he said. “She provided a lot of insights about what’s going on at the state level and kept us all going. We’re all going to miss her leadership. I do like the idea that she’s going full-time into faith formation. I think we could use a full-time director helping make our diocese’s curriculum in religion more consistent and giving us ideas on how to remain a strong Catholic operation and delivering our message to as many people as we can.”


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