As students returned to class this fall at St. Francis, the school was also welcoming a group of new administrators to the Mountain View campus.
The Catholic high school has a new president, dean of students, executive director of institutional advancement and chief financial officer.
“It was the board’s responsibility to make sure that we balanced the legacy and tradition (of the school) with finding leaders who could begin a new era, basically, at St. Francis,” said Jim Bowler, chairman of the school’s board of directors.
Jason Curtis took over in July as president of the school from Tony Mancuso, who had been serving as acting president since Simon Chiu left St. Francis at the beginning of 2018.
Mancuso has now returned to his previous role as the chaplain at the school. According to his LinkedIn page, Chiu is now vice president of financial development for the YMCA of Silicon Valley.
Ray Hisatake is stepping in as dean of students, Paul Lanning is the new executive director of institutional advancement and Sue Reyneri joins the school as chief financial officer.
Although St. Francis has a number of new leaders this year, Bowler said the focus remains on recognizing and valuing the legacy of the school. Many of the previous leaders had worked at the school for decades, Bowler noted.
“I think it was a time where the leadership of St. Francis had accomplished its goals and a number of them elected to retire,” he said. “It’s just a great opportunity to celebrate what they’ve done and to … initiate a new era.”
Taking the reins
As Curtis takes over as president, he said his focus is on learning from those who are already at the school and working with them to shape St. Francis’ future.
“My responsibility is to come in and listen,” he said.
Curtis comes to St. Francis from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C, where he served as principal and head of school for the past 13 years.
However, Curtis isn’t new to the Bay Area. He and his wife met when they were both students at Santa Clara University. He also worked as a social studies teacher and girls volleyball coach in the late 1990s at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose.
According to Bowler, Curtis’ long history in Catholic education, as well as experience in the Bay Area, made him the right choice to lead St. Francis.
“We had several finalists and Jason stood out by far as the person who could best lead at St. Francis at this time,” Bowler said.
Curtis said he was drawn to the position at St. Francis because of the history and culture of the school.
St. Francis was founded by the Brothers of the Holy Cross in the 1950s. According to the school’s website, “The cornerstone of a Holy Cross education is the belief that hearts and minds should be educated as one.”
That dedication to educating the whole student, rather than focusing solely on academics, is important to Curtis.
As president of St. Francis, Curtis leads the school’s institutional administration and manages strategic planning. Katie Teekell serves as principal and oversees the school’s operational administration.
Curtis said it is important to him that he stays connected to what is happening on the ground at the school, and he tries to spend as much time as possible during the day interacting with students.
That’s somewhat easier because one of his own children is a junior at St. Francis. He also has an eighth-grader he expects will attend St. Francis next year.
Curtis said his “greatest joy” is working with students, and in his first few months on the job, he has found the school community to be very welcoming.
“This is a school that is uniquely committed to its students,” Curtis said. “To get to work with people like that is inspiring.”