Catholic schools superintendent resigns
December 19, 2019
Momentum has been a key word for Michael Ashton during his 2½ years as superintendent of the Omaha archdiocese’s Catholic schools.
When Ashton began as superintendent in 2017, he saw a lot of initiatives that were taking off across the archdiocese.
They included blending traditional teaching with online methods, helping more Hispanic families enroll students in Catholic schools, enhancing faith formation for educators, expanding opportunities for education at the earliest levels and supporting legislation that would increase scholarship opportunities and make tuition more affordable for families.
Giving those initiatives momentum has been key to his service, Ashton said after the archdiocese announced his resignation, effective July 1. He said he resigned to return to the East Coast to be near family.
The archdiocese began a search for his replacement immediately after the Dec. 12 announcement.
As superintendent of Catholic schools, Ashton guides and provides consultation to 71 elementary and secondary schools across 23 counties in northeast Nebraska. Archbishop George J. Lucas appointed him to the post in July 2017.
“Working for Archbishop George Lucas and serving the state of Nebraska and Catholic school communities has been a privilege and an honor,” Ashton said. “The individuals leading our schools and parishes are some of the most impressive educators I have ever known.”
Under Ashton’s leadership, the Catholic Schools office helped to advance Catholic education on several fronts:
– In 2018 a Dual Language Academy was opened in Omaha to immerse students in English and Spanish and help integrate families from different cultures. Latino enrollment in Catholic elementary schools has continued to climb and is now increasing in the high schools, he said.
– A blended learning initiative, which brings students into online virtual classrooms, has expanded from a pilot of five schools to more than 30.
– The Catholic Schools office has been able to maximize federal funding, to help especially underserved populations, Ashton said.
– The Evangelium Institute has supplanted the School of Faith in providing faith formation for school teachers and staff.
– The schools office has continued to support scholarship legislation that ultimately would help make tuition more affordable for families.
“I am grateful to Dr. Ashton for the faith-filled leadership that he has given to Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Omaha,” Archbishop Lucas said. “The next superintendent will have the benefit of building on the good work Dr. Ashton has done for educators, students and families.”