Cathedral Prep as well as Villa Maria and Mother Theresa Academy have been blessed with a new president this year, Mr. Chris Hagerty. He replaced Fr. Scott Jabo who had served as the president for 10 years. Mr. Hagerty spoke with The Rambler about his new position.
Prior to becoming president, Hagerty worked in a variety of fields. Out of college he worked as a teacher and then transitioned into radio where he owned multiple local stations. After that he returned to Prep and worked as Head of Fundraising and Director of Strategic iInitiatives. He also serves as a partner at the Partners in Mission Law Firm, a firm focused on developing better leadership of Catholic Schools throughout the country.
Because of this firm, Mr. Hagerty had already had contact with the best leaders of Catholic schools in the country.
“The future is [going to] be incredibly bright because of that experience I have,” he said. “I am able to look at what we have right now and say, ‘OK, here are the holes we have right now, and here’s how we fill those holes.’ Our goal is to be better, and when we’re better that improves the lives of our students.”
His dedication to improving the lives of students shows in Prep’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which he likened to “juggling chainsaws” because when one factor in this type of response changes, it often affects all other factors involved. Despite these challenges Mr. Hagerty and his team at the school were able to plan ahead, acquire all the needed materials early, and get the school year started on time, which is a a claim many other schools cannot make.
One thing Mr. Hagerty has done so far during his tenure as president is introduce the new Cathedral Prep core values of Faith, Integrity, Respect, Service, and Trust, known by the acronym FIRST. The origin of the new core values is an interesting story.
“I was actually flying over the Rockies at the time, about a year ago, long before the president deal happened and I was thinking about the values I wanted instilled in my own children,” Mr. Hagerty said. “I feel these core values will help our organization collectively but more importantly individually.”
Mr. Hagerty is only the second layperson in Cathedral Prep’s 99-year history to be president. He mentioned that he did spend two years in the seminary and continues to stress that faith comes first.
“Being a layperson, I have been stressing the faith aspect hard this year,” he said. “I don’t want people to think we are slipping just because a priest is no longer the president.”
Another way him being a layperson affects his methods to running the school is the fact that he has kids and knows what it is like for a student at Prep or Villa, which he believes will really help him run the school in a way that is beneficial to parents, staff, and students.
Mr. Hagerty went to Prep and graduated in 1975, and a lot has changed since then.
“We don’t have enough time, and you don’t have enough ink to write down how much has changed,” he said. “The changes are immense. First of all the school was much, much stricter, and most of the staff were either priests or sisters. Enrollment is much smaller. My freshman class started with 366 students. Though we are much smaller, I believe that makes us much closer as a community.
One area Mr. Hagerty would like to improve is the school spirit at Prep.
“We had 25 tickets to our first home [football] game, and only 9 students said they wanted to go. I’m not sure what to attribute it to,” he said. “Maybe it’s because you have so many more things to do and so many more things you’re involved in. But whatever it is, I don’t like it. It really goes against the Prep spirit, and the Prep spirit is to support each other, whether that be with sports or plays or any number of activities. You know when I was here we used to have 12 pep rallies a year, and those rallies were really just to make everyone excited to play football. Back then, everyone went to the games.”
In regards to future plans for the school, Mr. Hagerty emphasized four areas of focus.
“I want Prep to be the number one faith community choice for families, the number one school choice for students looking for a high school, to be the number one choice for employees where everyone wants to work and be part of our family, and to be the investor’s choice for donations because without donors we don’t open our doors,” he said.
He also mentioned that The Rambler should come back and ask the same question at some point in January, which may imply big changes are on the way. Until then, the school looks forward to seeing how Mr. Hagerty and his team continue to improve the school.