Principal chosen for St. Patrick HS
by BRIAN NADIG
Jon Baffico has been chosen to be the new principal of Saint Patrick High School, as longtime principal Dr. Joseph Schmidt prepares to become the school’s president.
Schmidt has served as the school’s principal since 1987. He will be taking the place of Brother Konrad Diebold, who is retiring. Baffico and Schmidt will assume their new roles on July 1.
Baffico, age 38, is the assistant principal at Algonquin Middle School in Des Plaines. He graduated from Lake Forest High School and earned a bachelor of science degree in mathematics from Indiana University and a master’s degree in school leadership from Concordia University.
Baffico taught math at Carmel High School in Mundelein from 1996 to 2009, and he has coached basketball and volleyball. He is a member of the school board at Saint Francis de Sales School in Lake Zurich.
Baffico will be the second lay principal in the 152-year history of the school, which is operated by the Christian Brothers. Schmidt was the school’s first lay principal.
“It’s an honor to be hired,” Baffico said. “I’m incredibly excited by the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to getting in there this summer and getting to work.”
Baffico said that he became familiar with Saint Patrick’s history and the quality of the school during his 13 years as a teacher and coach at Carmel. He said that he had been looking for a way to get back into high school education when he heard about the opening and applied.
“In the back of my mind I wanted to get back into high school, but I didn’t know how that would happen, whether it would be as an assistant principal or a dean,” Baffico said. “When I heard about the opening at Saint Pat’s, I wanted the opportunity to try for the job, and I was fortunate that I was a good enough candidate on paper to be considered.”
Baffico said that he also was interested in working at a private school. “In a public school you’re often under restrictions in terms of what you can do,” he said. “A private school setting gives you more autonomy to try more things.”
Baffico said that his current job has helped him prepare to take on a larger role. “The best thing is that my boss has delegated a lot of things to me,” he said. “That has helped me work out for myself how things are done and really prepared me for the principal’s job.”
Baffico said that he expects to spend his first year in his new role by familiarizing himself with the school. “You want to be careful with any grand plans you have going in,” he said. “Initially I’ll learn who makes the building work, observe what goes on and figure out what is needed.”
Schmidt said that a search committee identified four candidates for the post and held a forum at which the candidates were given an opportunity to present their qualifications. He said that after the forum was over the committee selected Baffico by a unanimous vote.
“He had a good variety of experience as a teacher and coach and as an administrator,” Schmidt said. “He’s young, he’s energetic, and he has a nice leadership style that I think will translate well.”
Schmidt has been the school’s principal since Diebold left the position to become the school’s first president after its administrative structure changed. Schmidt began his teaching career at the school in 1967. He also coached at the school and served as its dean of students.
Schmidt said that his new role will require him to work more closely with the school’s board of trustees to set school policies and raise funds, particularly for the school’s financial aid programs.
“We have to help families who can’t afford to pay the full freight of tuition,” Schmidt said. “Up to 50 percent of our families are now accepting some form of aid. We have to be sensitive to those needs in a time of rising tuition.”
Tuition for the 2012-13 school year was $9,400, with quarterly and monthly payment plans offered as options. Nearly $1 million in need-based funding was awarded to students for the current school year. The all-male school has an enrollment of 984 students.
Schmidt said that a succession meeting was held last fall when Diebold announced his plans to retire and that the board asked him to take the position.
“Every day for 46 years I have really looked forward to coming to work,” Schmidt said. “That will continue to be the case. There will still be opportunities to keep in touch with students and faculty. The responsibilities will change, but I think that change will be good for me and I look forward to it.”