Sarah Grey: Opening New Gifts in the Diocese of Grand Rapids
For many of us, these days before Christmas are filled with lists. List of gift ideas for our loved ones, to-do lists for our homes and churches, and maybe even a little wish list for ourselves.
For David Faber, the superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, his wish list included someone with the leadership and experience to jump into the role of assistant superintendent after Jill Annable was selected by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) to fill their new executive director of academic excellence position in the middle of the fall semester.
Fortunately for David, Sarah Grey—a graduate of the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program and the former principal at Assumption Catholic School in Denver—had recently moved with her husband and three daughters in order to be closer to family in Grand Rapids. She was ready to offer her leadership expertise to the principals, teachers, and students in her new diocese.
“You really have to see the Holy Spirit working when you move to a new city and then have a role that you’re such a good fit for opening up just a few months later,” Sarah said.
"As we say in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, we don't worry about filling big shoes, we just open new gifts,” David said. “That is what Sarah has been for us—a new gift!"
Sarah initially considered taking this school year off to gain a better understanding of the diocesan landscape, as well as to help her daughters adjust to their new surroundings.
That plan did not last long.
“I only was off for two weeks because I took on a part-time role as an assistant organizational leader with St. Isidore Catholic Curriculum, working remotely for the Archdiocese of Denver to provide a virtual option for families who didn’t feel comfortable sending their students back to in-person learning,” Sarah said. “I was still working with them when the news of the assistant superintendent opening came from the (Grand Rapids) diocesan office. ”
Sarah was asked to interview for the interim position in an effort to provide stability for the leaders and teachers through the end of the school year.
“When I went to interview, I really just felt called to explore it further and to do this important work for the diocese,” Sarah said. “The Remick program prepares you to be courageous as a leader and I felt confident I could commit to this new role—in a new city—and do it well.”
Soon after her interview, she started at her new post.
“I focus on supporting our school leaders and teachers across the diocese as it relates to the areas of curriculum, instruction, and assessments,” Sarah said. “I also work directly with another member of our team who is a technology specialist and support the schools in that way.”
Although just a month into the new job, Sarah is excited to lean on her experience as a school leader and learn more about the ways she can provide stability for principals and teachers in this most uncertain of school years.
Her new superintendent has taken notice. "During this time of transition, especially in the heart of this pandemic, Sarah has offered our teachers and leaders the curriculum, instruction, and technology support so critical to our schools and students who are in-person and those that are participating remotely,” David said. “She has rolled up her sleeves to help our schools do whatever it takes."
Doing whatever it takes involves visiting schools and building relationships with the principals across the Diocese of Grand Rapids, something that not many other people are able to do because of the pandemic.
“It has been a beautiful experience to go out to schools, because that’s where I’m comfortable,” Sarah said. “Coming to this role from my most recent position as a principal has created a lot of robust opportunities for conversations and collaboration. It’s been a joy to get to know the principals and serve as a resource and thought-partner for them.”
Sarah credits not only her time as a principal, but also the experiences and connections from the Remick Leadership Program, for preparing her to make the jump to the diocesan level of leadership.
“One thing that is such a pivotal part of the Remick program is the strong network of individuals across the country that are willing to pick up the phone and connect,” Sarah said. “For all of my professional moves—from considering a principal position to starting the Remick program to my current role—I’ve been blessed to have Remick connections in the background that I could talk to, process with, and then ultimately work with.”
Do you have gifts that can help Catholic schools? Apply to the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program!