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Q-and-A with Archbishop Riordan High School’s new leadership

08 Riordan combo PAGETim Reardon and Andrew Currier

September 14, 2017

Archbishop Riordan High School was founded in 1949 with the mission of educating young men in San Francisco. The school and its work continues today with its Marianist roots, a growing enrollment and new programs. Catholic San Francisco senior writer Tom Burke moderated this Q-and-A with president Andrew Currier and principal Tim Reardon about the new school year. Both are in their first year at the school.


How will your both being new to Riordan influence your plans for the school?
We’re currently getting a crash course in all things Riordan. As principal, I’m relying heavily on a really strong trio of deans: Juan Zumbado (Discipline), Catherine Mifsud (Community Life), and Michael O’Brien (Academics). I have some ideas that I’ve brought with me, but I’m definitely taking the time to study this very complex school before I implement any major changes.

AC: It’s a great opportunity for Tim and me to bring a fresh perspective to some old and existing challenges. We both have different backgrounds and areas of expertise, which will help us be able to canvass the program offerings and be evaluative at the same time.

Why did each of you seek the posts?
AC: I really feel like this is a homecoming. Having attended an all-boys high school very similar to Riordan in Detroit, Michigan, I feel like I’ve been given the responsibility of caring for the high school I attended. Being given a leadership position at Riordan is an opportunity to engage any and all creative skills and leadership skills that I may possess. I really look forward to applying all of my experience and academic work here at Riordan.

TR: I’ve been in Catholic education, either as a student or an educator, for more than 40 years, and 30 of those years were at St. Ignatius Prep. When I saw that there was an opening at Riordan, I got excited about the prospect of a new challenge at a place that I really believed in. I’m a San Francisco guy, who went to an all-boys high school, and I really believe in that model.


How do you see the division of leadership duties?
AC: Our plans will develop mutually and collaboratively as we discern the greatest needs for Riordan. I hope that our leadership can be marked as one of service and good will. We are intent on making a Riordan education the best it possibly can be.

TR: I love working with Andrew. He has a good sense of humor and a perfect set of skills to run a school like Riordan. My job is to make sure that Andrew’s vision for Riordan comes to fruition. We have a highly qualified faculty and passionate faculty, so I just need to make sure that we’re all working for the same goals.


How important are the school’s Marianist roots?
TR: Most of my background has been with the Jesuits; however, there are many similarities between the two orders, especially with regard to the traditions in service, justice and peace. I’m particularly attracted to the Marianist focus on family. It ties in directly to the spirit of brotherhood that’s so pervasive on campus. I’ve also been drawn to the Marianist characteristics of adaptation and change. Riordan, perhaps more than any other high school in the area, has put tremendous emphasis on innovation. The boarding program alone is evidence of this distinction.

AC: Our school’s Marianist roots help us maintain our Catholic identity and outlook through our devotion and reverence to Mary. The Marianist founder Blessed Guillaume-Joseph Chaminade gave us a strong example that is ultimately an imitation of Christ. The Marianists established this school as a great means of good in San Francisco and we work to honor their legacy.


What do you like best about Riordan as you come aboard?
AC: I really appreciate the welcoming environment and the incredible potential. Riordan staff have been helpful and kind in making sure I feel at home. The boys are a terrific sign of hope for San Francisco as well. They are great young men.

TR: There’s a great combination of experienced, longtime Riordan teachers working with young faculty members full of positive energy and fresh ideas. Everyone has been especially welcoming to me and very optimistic about the direction Riordan has been going the past few years.


What do you see as your biggest challenges?
AC: Some of the biggest challenges are ensuring we have enough boys to educate in a city with a declining population of school-age children. We have many contemporary challenges to face that threaten our Catholic approach to education including the permissiveness of drugs, the pressures to conform to secular cultural mores, and the diminishing of values.

TR: A school that has such a diverse socioeconomic student body and provides financial aid to such a large percentage of students must be relentlessly mindful of financial sustainability. However, with Andrew’s leadership and John Ring’s amazing team in development, I’m confident that Riordan will continue to grow.

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