An Inside Look at Pastor-Principal Collaboration

Msgr. Stephen Radocha and Mrs. Marybeth Okula

I had the opportunity to visit this past week with Msgr. Stephen Radocha and Mrs. Marybeth Okula of St. Jane’s School in Easton, PA. Beyond their generous hospitality was a clear sense of the collaboration that can occur between two individuals.

Msgr. Radocha and Mrs. Okula have been working in tandem for many years, a true benefit to any Catholic school. What follow are four benefits to multi-year collaborations as evidenced at St. Janes:

  1. Smoother communication: when the pastor and principal work together, they learn how the other ‘operates’. They know which times of day are good for a phone call and which types of issues require broader consultation. When meeting with parents, they know how to play off of one another and when to add perspective.
  2. Clear expectations: when the pastor and principal collaborate, they develop expectations related to crisis management, performance results and how issues are resolved. For example, a pastor knows that a seasoned principal can handle about 95% of school issues. When Mrs. Okula asks for Msgr. Radocha’s help with a situation, he knows that it’s serious. This is the fruit of their years of working together.
  3. Knowledge of likes and dislikes: it’s critical for a principal to know which kinds of things are most important to the pastor. When I led a Catholic high school, my team knew that I didn’t need to weigh in on the annual fundraising gala food menu- it just wasn’t that important to me. I knew that they would identify the right food to serve. This saved so much time and energy.
  4. Better decision making: collaboration leads to crisp and sound decision making. We seek to avoid group-think. A pastor and principal can nudge one another towards the right decision rather than the most comfortable outcome.

At St. Jane’s School, students truly learn what it means to become both saints and scholars.