Monday, September 13, 2010

Story on former Superintendent Raslowsky in Jersey Journal- His life is shaped by academic calendars

The following article appeared in The Jersey Journal and was written by Rev. Alexander M. Santora, the pastor of The Church of Our Lady of Grace & St. Joseph in Hoboken, NJ. You can reach Rev. Santora at: Raslowsky (middle of picture on left), a Hoboken native, raised QSAC scores in the Hoboken School district from failing to excelling in a little over 2 years. While he was Superintendent (April 2007-August 2009), Hoboken High School became the 2nd most improved high school in New Jersey according to the August 2008 NJ Monthly and was awarded Bronze Medal awards in consecutive years by US News and World Report (2008, 2009). He also initiated the nationally known research based "Tools of the Mind" preschool-Kindergarten program and facilitated the broadcasting of Board of Education meetings for the first time ever. In addition, he reduced the number of administrators in the district by 25% during his tenure. Unfortunately for the Hoboken Public Schools, Raslowsky's educational leadership, expertise, and vision often conflicted with the political agenda of the Kids First Board of Education members and many of their supporters. -Dr. Petrosino

Since 1966, when John (Jack) Raslowsly II entered kindergarten at the old Hoboken P.S. 8, he has not missed an opening day of school in September.

In fact, his life has been shaped by academic calendars.

First it was for his own schooling, and now it's as the first lay president of Xavier High School in Manhattan, a prestigious Jesuit Catholic institution founded in 1847.

He did not admit to a restless night before the opening of school as many do, but certainly he has more to worry about than what to wear.

Starting his second year in the position, Raslowsky oversees a budget of $14 million, over a 1,000 students and a staff of 100. But rather than worry about business matters, Raslowsky sees his main role very specifically, "There is an ongoing thing to make sure we are as distinctively Jesuit and Catholic as we can be."

And few laymen can say that with as rich a background as Raslowsky. Not only in his personal life, but he has had wide experiences in Catholic education since graduating from the University of Vermont.

He first taught at the legendary St. Anthony's High School in Jersey City and then moved a few blocks east to his alma mater, St. Peter's Prep, where he taught for two years and eventually returned to become the first lay principal from 1992 to 2003.

During these years, the Jesuits, with fewer priests to run and staff their schools, emphasized lay partnership and programs to educate lay staffs on fostering Jesuit ideals, especially in their vast array of schools in the U.S.

Raslowsky was in the forefront. "It was a concern of the old Society, cura personalis, care for the person," said Raslowsky, that under-girded this modern direction.When he left the Prep, he went to work in the Provincial's office of the New York Province of the Jesuits to directly oversee these efforts.

First as the assistant for lay formation and then the provincial assistant for secondary and pre-secondary education, Raslowsky was the first layman to hold this post.

This put him on the boards of schools from Buffalo to Jersey City, had him meeting with administrators, faculty and staff and advising the Provincial on high school matters.

Then he stepped outside Catholic education to take the helm of his hometown Hoboken public school system for two years. "I liked the challenge of new work," said Raslowsky, who also described the job as "complicated."

"The politics in the town are still unsettled," said Raslowsky, who left for Xavier after two years of his four-year contract because of the possibilities that attracted him. He does not regret it.

He sees his job as "to make the mission come alive" by securing the resources to do the educational, spiritual and physical that are part of any Catholic school community. He was particularly excited about the first physical expansion of Xavier in over 100 years.

They are selling air rights to a building they own in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan across from the school. The new building will give Xavier six floors of space to expand their programs.

He also has to raise $6 million at the outset, but he sees more returns for the school down the road. Annual giving from alumni and others tops $2.6 million and their tuition alone is $12,500 per student.

Raslowsky describes his job as 24/7 but he said he tries, "to keep holy the Sabbath," not only for his own mental health but also to care for his four children. Three study at St. Francis Academy in Union City, where his wife, Sarah, teaches.

The one "disappointment" is that his oldest child, John, will commute across the Hudson River for high school, but not to Xavier. He will attend the prestigious Regis High School in upper Manhattan, the only Jesuit high school in the U.S. to award scholarships to the entire student body. Now the biggest dilemma for Raslowsky is which school to root for at athletic events.

©2010 Jersey Journal

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