No matter who we are, where we are, or what we are, all human beings have the power to give something to someone.
In Webster’s dictionary gift is defined in four ways:
1) a notable capacity or talent;
2) something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation;
3) the act, right, or power of giving;
4) to endow with some power, quality, or attribute.
In considering a Principal within the School System as “gift” we reach beyond the professional role to the person who gives oneself to a very important ministry within the Church.
All aspects of Webster’s definitions become integrated as the person of the Principal accepts administrative tasks and leadership responsibilities as the vehicle to give to the Lord, to the school community and intrinsically to the whole Mystical Body whatever version, direction, growth, and education that person is able to reflect through his or her personhood, personality, professionalism, and promise.
I was a student at Carnaun School from 1943-1951 and I was asked to write and give some reflections on the Tim O’Regan who was principal at that time. Studies highlighting the position of the principal have identified several key role demands, which in order of importance are.. instructional leader; manager of time and resources; communicator; observer and evaluator of staff; creator of school climate; and leader in goal setting and attainment, school-community relations, discipline, and teacher support. The principal’s central administrative role in schools requires expertise in many diverse areas: personnel, finances, community relations, curriculum and supervision, and catholic leadership.
The main function of the principal is to take the talent of the staff, release it and put it to purpose. As U. S. Secretary of Education William J. Bennet put it, the principal leads, inspires and brings out the best from dedicated, motivated teaching staffs. This is an art and such an art Tim had as one of his endless qualities.
Carnaun always had a great spirit among the students. Tim established its patterns of discipline, and gave the students a vision of what life can be. He had no doubt about the identity of the school and it always had a real Christian presence. Tim was not only a good administrator, a master teacher but was also very open. St. Benedict said that the role of the abbot is to listen to every monk, including the youngest, and affirm the truth wherever it is present. St. Ignatius in his rule for the discernment of spirits relates the same idea. Tim was also very responsive to the needs of the students and was both pleasant and pleasing. He was very human in his approach and always showed a great respect for the human person and the student.
It can be said that Tim was a principal and master teacher par excellence. On two different occasions he received the Carlisle and Blake Award. This was given by the Department of Education and was done upon the recommendation of senior inspectors of the Department of Education. It was given because he was an efficient administrator and also for the high educational standards in the school. It is unusual that the award be given twice to the same person but this shows the recognition and the good reputation that he had in the academic community.
I could write much about the character and personality of Tim but I would like to end this on a personal note. I will always be eternally grateful for the interest that he took in me as a student. He was very supportive and encouraged me in my studies. When I came home on vacation from secondary school after leaving Carnaun, he would always stop and talk to me. He manifested a keen interest in my progress.
I remember shortly before ordination I had a letter from him and how happy he was for me. Tim was not able to be present for my first Mass in Athenry on April 1, 1964 due to illness and hospitalisation. However, the other teachers did attend and later that day joined us in the festivities at the family home. Afterwards I visited him in the hospital a few times and we talked about many things. I could see that he was a man with much wisdom and charisma. He was the first person that encouraged me to do graduate studies and told me I was capable of doing scientific research. I will always remember how he affirmed me and for that I will always be grateful.
So, Tim O’Regan was truly a gift in every sense of the word.
By Fr. Michael Higgins, M.A., D.D., D. C. L. Diocese of San Diego, California.
Written by Michael Higgins
Published here 05 Feb 2021
Page 022 of The Carnaun Centenary Book
Jottings from my Life in Tyrone, Ireland – Introduction
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