Following a months-long process, Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools has realigned its administrative structure.

What does this mean for BCACS families?

In short, it means the leadership positions at the elementary, middle school and high school remain held by the same people who have dedicated years to providing an excellent education and a foundation of faith for students.

Vicky Groat, both the principal and athletic director at St. Philip Catholic Central High School for the past nine years, returns her focus to athletics and now is solely the talented director of athletics for the Fighting Tigers.

Katie Reed is the new principal at St. Philip after serving in that position at St. Joseph Middle School for the past seven years.

Sara Myers, principal of St. Joseph Elementary, is now the principal for students in preschool through 8th grade, with support in the middle school from social studies instructor Blake Shaw as the new dean of students.

The decision to simplify the administrative structure came following a report by the Schools Advisory Board and the School’s Executive Committee after working with Partners In Mission, a professional education consulting firm. As part of the restructuring, BCACS is actively seeking candidates for the restored position of Executive Director for the schools.

In a nutshell, these changes aim to bring greater opportunities to BCACS students and families, fostering a stronger connection between the two school buildings and ensuring that BCACS thrives now and in the future.

THANK YOU VICKY

Mrs. Groat is an alumna and a Hall of Fame coach who has taken the St. Philip volleyball program to unprecedented heights, leading the team to 12 state championships. The school’s 22 volleyball state championships – including nine coached by the late Sheila Guerra, Mrs. Groat’s mother – are the sixth-most by any high school volleyball program in the nation.

In 2014, Mrs. Groat was amid another championship run as coach and athletic director when answering the call to become the school’s principal following the unexpected passing of principal Tim May. What began as an interim dual role, Mrs. Groat took on the added responsibility and dutifully served both positions for the better part of a decade.

There’s an old cliché in sports when a star athlete does many things well for the team, a broadcaster might say, “They did everything except sell popcorn.” Well, Mrs. Groat did everything AND sold popcorn.

The very fact that Mrs. Groat sold popcorn illustrates her willingness to serve in multiple capacities to benefit the school. It also speaks to the need for more volunteers to successfully operate a high school athletic event.

Building on St. Philip’s rich athletic tradition, Groat is focused on creating more opportunities for BCACS student-athletes at all levels.

“Playing a sport definitely prepares you for the real world and adversity. Things are not always going to go your way,” Mrs. Groat said. “It teaches you problem-solving and teamwork, and sports are an extension of the classroom that prepares you for the real world. You have expectations and goals, and there are things you need to do to achieve those. If you hold each other accountable and work hard, good things happen.”

As principal, Mrs. Groat led the school through thick and thin, notably guiding St. Philip following the loss of its former principal and amid the disruption of the pandemic. For her efforts, we owe her our gratitude and support in keeping St. Philip a bastion of excellence in the classroom and on the athletic field.

REED BACK WHERE SHE STARTED

Katie Reed has deep ties to St. Philip, with her grandfather being one of the high school’s first graduates. She continued her family’s legacy by attending St. Philip and graduating in 2000.

After student-teaching at a neighboring school district, Ms. Reed joined the staff at St. Philip as a long-term substitute teacher, segueing that position into 10 years as an instructor at the high school. She then moved to St. Joseph Middle School, becoming its vice principal and then principal.

“Being back, it just already feels like home, like we are one big family,” Ms. Reed said. “Everybody stepped in to help and made me feel comfortable. And to see how hard all these teachers and staff have worked with their limited resources – especially through COVID and beyond to provide students an education and making sure they still feel loved and keeping the traditions alive over here – it almost feels like I never left.”

Ms. Reed admits the move to her new office at the downtown campus was bittersweet due to her love for the middle school students and staff, but said she is excited about this new chapter.

“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions,” she said. “But I will say the one that jumps out is excitement. I think the (administrative) moves are putting people in the right places, divvying up all the things that need to be done in the right way and taking some off of other’s plates that were so full. It’s nice working with people that all have the same kind of love for this place.”

MYERS CULTIVATES FAMILY ATMOSPHERE

Like Groat and Reed, Myers has a long history with BCACS, having attended St. Joseph from kindergarten through eighth grade. She returned to the school as a teacher and has been the elementary principal for the last 11 years. In 2016, she was appointed as the principal for both the elementary and middle school when Reed joined as the vice principal before taking over as principal.

Mrs. Myers said that she is grateful for Mr. Shaw to have accepted the role of dean of students, which is logistically helping make her transition back to kindergarten-8th grade principal more seamless. And she noted that the administrative reshuffling is part of the BCACS effort to forge a stronger connection between the St. Joseph and St. Philip school buildings.

“We kind of all got into our silos with COVID. Our goal together is really to try to make these buildings feel more like a system,” Mrs. Myers said. “I will help in whatever needs to be done to help the growth of our schools.”

While Mrs. Myers is a new principal to some in the middle school, she says her familiarity with most students eases the transition.

“I have my own three children, but all of these kids are my kids,” Mrs. Myers said. “Those middle schoolers, I’ve seen them since they’ve been in preschool. So, I do feel like they’re my kids too. And so, when they’re here at school, I’m going to watch out for them, I’m going to protect them, I’m going to make sure that they’re doing well and making good choices, just like I would my own kiddos.”

Nick J. Buckley is a freelance journalist and 2003 St. Philip High School graduate. He and his wife, Alexis (Rainier) Buckley (Class of 2004) have two children who attend Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools. To reach him, email bcacs.blog@gmail.com.

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