Meet Pacelli’s new boss

Joseph Steepleton has been named the new president of Pacelli Catholic Schools as well as principal of Pacelli Middle and High School. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Incoming Pacelli Catholic Schools President Joseph Steepleton is ready to take things to a new century.

The 21st century.

Steepleton, an avid believer in the power of technology, said maintaining Pacelli’s strong emphasis on technology is one of the goals Pacelli will be working toward this year. Not that Austin’s behind the curve, mind you.

“Austin has impressed me,” Steepleton said. “They want to be a can-do community.”

Of course, Pacelli will also strive to grow its academic excellence and maintain a strong Catholic identity.

“We need to learn how best to serve the community,” he said. “To promote the Gospel message to all people.”

Steepleton is a veteran of Catholic school systems across the U.S. Though he grew up in Iowa, he’s been there, done that at catholic schools across the U.S., from Wisconsin to Louisiana, from Iowa to Michigan and more. He and his wife decided to take a job closer to the Twin Cities, where his daughter lives.

Yet he’s also impressed by Pacelli’s emphasis on excellence. A big proponent of technology in the classroom, Steepleton was pleasantly surprised to find laptops in the hands of every high schooler at Pacelli. That’s something he’s advocated for years at other schools, and something he says puts Pacelli in the upper echelon of Catholic schooling.

“There’s a willingness on (Pacelli’s) part to do things different,” Steepleton said.

Steepleton is also taking a look at how the school addresses diversity. He wants integration to be a large part of what Pacelli stands for. This year’s theme at Pacelli is clear: “One Faith, One Family, One School.” It’s these initiatives that Steepleton thinks can put Pacelli on the forefront of schooling and do away with the old, 19th century agrarian school model. No more kids placing kids on “tracks” per se, but providing top-notch educational opportunities to every student.

“Despite what I think we tend to believe, things have changed,” he said. “That’s really a model which is long gone.”

Steepleton will replace Mary Holtorf as principal of Pacelli Jr. High School and Pacelli High School. Holtorf will remain principal of Pacelli Elementary School to further focus on elementary education.

One thing’s for sure: Steepleton will adapt well to Austin life. He’s an avid lover of Spam and can’t understand why Austin, Texas has the Spam cook-off instead of here.

“I’ve got about four Spam recipes I want to submit,” he said.

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