Get to Know: Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools Tracey Kovar
We periodically bring you profiles of the great administrators and educators from all around our Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic schools, and we think you’ll enjoy getting to know what drives their passion for serving others.
Please help us congratulate Tracey Kovar on being named the new Assistant Superintendent! Tracey comes into the role after serving as Student Services Advisor in our office for more than two years. She is a great champion for students and families.
Read the below Q&A to learn more about how Tracey’s work shapes the culture of all 70 Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic Schools.
What have been your biggest projects as part of your role?
As soon as I began in my role with Catholic Schools, my focus has always been on building equity within our systems so all students and their families will feel welcome and served within our schools. When I started looking at equity, it began through the lens of special education and quickly evolved. Adding mental health supports to our system to better support more students was an obvious and prevalent need.
As I was working on a tiered system of support with a shared leadership model in mental health, I came across CASEL’s social emotional learning (SEL) framework that led me in the direction of cultural competencies.
What I realized was that if I combine multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) with SEL and our Catholic faith, then we could create a system that supports all who enter our school communities. These frameworks combined will help guide our work to support all students, their families, and the community, regardless of ability, ethnicity, race, trauma, economics. We are building a systemic program that supports, educates, and evangelizes the human as an individual. As Catholic educators, my hope is that we can end the one size fits all format of school communities and Open Wide Our Hearts to truly supporting all who enter through our doors.
What do you like most about your job and why?
Working for the Lord!
I am very passionate about equitable practices and supporting the marginalized and oppressed. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to come to work every day, working along-side the incredible people in our office and our amazing principals and pastors in the field, to assist in the development of school communities, that will support all members.
For the past year, until the pandemic derailed our work, I had been working with a team of educators on the Diversity and Equity Committee to develop plans to support the “undoing” of racism within our school communities. This committee of leaders has reorganized, knowing that the work of undoing racism is too important to let COVID get in the way. We have chosen the term undoing racism instead of anti-racism because we wanted to description that meant action. We are all biased, and may unwittingly, do things to support the inequity of people of color (POC) or those that are different than us. It is time for all of us to face our own biases and begin making change happen, so we can battle systemic racism and fight against the injustices that may plague our brothers and sisters.
How has your job changed since COVID-19?
Prior to the pandemic, one of our biggest fears as educators was how to keep our children and teachers safe from school violence. We made sure schools had cameras, doors had locks, check-in procedures for guests were in place, and procedures for shooters in a building were developed.
But, how do we keep our students and teachers safe in a pandemic? What measures do we put in place so parents will feel that their children are safe and protected? What measures do we put in place so our teachers feel safe returning?
As a system, we don’t have all the answers. However, we do know that masks, hand washing, and proper cleaning will help decrease the spread of the virus. Wearing a mask, washing hands often, and proper disinfectant may not be enough to make all of us feel safe returning to schools, but it is a start.
I wear my mask for you, and I want you to feel safe when you are with me. I wear my mask for our students, they are going to be expected to wear them when they return. I wear my mask for my family; ten members of my family and extended family are compromised. I wear my mask for my colleagues. I already recovered from COVID-19 and I don’t want to be a spreader. I wear my mask for those that have gone back to work to support us, and for those who are struggling emotionally with the pandemic, I want to help reduce their anxiety. I want to do all I can to help everyone to feel safer and live life.
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Follow Tracey Kovar on Twitter @TLKovar, where she posts about topics relating to student services and inclusion in Catholic schools, as well as about the progress of the Diversity Committee.
You can also read more about Tracey in a blog post from 2018 when she joined the Catholic Schools Office.