By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
Lourdes Catholic School in Bettendorf and All Saints Catholic School in Davenport have named new principals who will begin their positions July 1.
Michael Hughes comes to Lourdes with 25 years of administrative experience. Currently, he is a seventh-grade science teacher and curriculum and instructional leader in the Ottumwa Community School District. Hughes taught or served in administration at Moline-Coal Valley District 40 and East Moline District 37, both in Illinois. He served as principal of George O. Barr Elementary in Silvis, Illinois, for 12 years. He has a master’s degree in administration and supervision and an education specialist degree from Western Illinois University.
“As a result of being a part of the Davenport Diocese since my childhood, I have grown deeply in my faith alongside the spiritual community,” he said. “Several major points drew me to this amazing opportunity: Lourdes was our first choice for our daughter to attend as a preschool student, our friends and family have been a part of Lourdes, and the community support that envelops this school piqued my interest in pursuing a position as a leader at this school.”
“This is a perfect position to celebrate the blessings Jesus has bestowed upon my family.” He views Lourdes as a cornerstone of faith-based education with a solid reputation for embracing children through the development of spiritual, academic and emotional competence. He is also thrilled about returning to the Quad-City area, to “be back home and part of this community.”
Father Jason Crossen, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Bettendorf, said Hughes “spoke very passionately about caring for students, teachers and parents” in his interview for the position. “He says he likes to start early so he has time to interact with students and teachers as they arrive at school. He has a desire for learning to be fun and rewarding while maintaining academic excellence. He understands that communication is vital to developing relationships with everyone involved in Catholic education.”
Hughes’ administrative experience is also important “because we have various challenges we are facing: the academic recovery from COVID-19, the movement into a regionalized system with Scott County Catholic Schools and the possibility of a (new education center) in the future,” Father Crossen said. “I am very excited at the new opportunities that present themselves with Mr. Hughes’ experience and enthusiasm.”
Kerry Applegate will become principal of All Saints. Currently, she is a physical education teacher at Assumption High School in Davenport and previously worked at Virgil Grissom Elementary in Princeton. She began her teaching career at Arbor Park Middle School in Oak Forest, Illinois, where she taught for 10 years. She has a master’s degree in educational administration and leadership from Saint Xavier University in Chicago.
“I went to school for my master’s in administration with the goal of one day becoming a principal at a Catholic elementary school. My Catholic faith has played a significant role in my life and I wanted to be able to share my faith and values with my students,” Applegate said. “All Saints has a reputation of providing its students with a nurturing education that focuses on the development of the whole student, mind, body and spirit.”
Applegate and her husband and three children moved to the area six years ago “and we love it here.” Her parents also relocated to the area. Applegate has met many student at Assumption who attended All Saints as elementary students. “These students radiate Catholic values and kindness in their daily dispositions. I wanted to be part of a school that helps its students flourish not only academically, but also as children of God.”
She looks forward to “continuing the loving culture” that current principal Jeanne Von Feldt has created at All Saints. “I want to provide students with an environment that is welcoming to all, provides meaningful relationships and is rooted in the Christian faith,” Applegate said.
Father Thom Hennen, pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, said that in the interview process Applegate “approached this position as a Catholic school principal with a sense of calling and vocation more than simply a job. I think this is true of most educators, especially those in Catholic schools, but it came across especially strongly in Kerry. She said that her life career goal is to be Catholic school principal. That tells me this is someone who will put her heart and soul into this role. Her Catholic faith also shone through, as well as a kind, humble, but energetic spirit.”
Although she will be a first-time administrator, “she does have experience as a Catholic, a parent and teacher, in addition to her education, credentials and smaller leadership opportunities along the way in her previous positions,” Father Hennen said. “I believe all of this will translate well into this position at All Saints. I also think that an administrator has to start somewhere and that great principals are made.”