Leader named for Francis Academy


The principal of a parochial school in Burbank has been selected to lead Pope Francis Global Academy, which will open in August on the campuses of Saint Tarcissus School, 6040 W. Ardmore Ave., and Saint Pascal School, 6143 W. Irving Park Road.

Saint Albert the Great School principal Terrence O’Rourke recently accepted the position of head of school for the academy, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced on Jan. 8.

"Mr. O’Rourke brings a vast array of expertise to the head of school position, including principal leadership, curriculum and instruction, high school teaching and coaching, as well as strategic business planning," Catholic schools superintendent Dr. Jim Rigg said in a statement.

Saint Tarcissus, Saint Pascal, Our Lady of Victory and Saint Cornelius schools will close after the school year due to low enrollment, and they are merging into the academy, which will offer classes for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade. Our Lady of Victory School, 4434 N. Laramie Ave., and Saint Cornelius School, 5252 N. Long Ave., will not be used for the academy, and plans for those schools have not been announced.

During O’Rourke’s 3 years at Saint Albert, the school experienced a 53 percent increase in enrollment, reaching its highest level in 7 years, according to Rigg. "Additionally, he has overseen an expansion of the library, renovations of the early childhood classrooms and computer lab, incorporation of wireless capability throughout the school and a rebranding campaign, including logo, Web site and marketing materials," Rigg said.

Enrollment increased from 136 to 210 during O’Rourke’s time at Saint Albert.

O’Rourke said that when he arrived at Saint Albert, the school had two outdated Web sites and lacked a logo which was easily identifiable in the community, and that the school had done little to promote its good test scores.

O’Rourke said that efforts to create the academy represent a "dynamic change which we never envisioned" for the archdiocese and that he hopes the academy will serve as a model for Catholic schools. "I’m very excited, mainly to meet the kids and the parents," he said. "That’s going to direct a lot of the decision-making process."

O’Rourke, a Park Ridge resident, said that he is familiar with the Northwest Side, as several of his wife’s relatives attended Our Lady of Victory.

a bachelor of arts degree in English from Northern Illinois University, a master of arts in English from DePaul University and a master of arts in education administration/strategic planning from Dominican University.

"We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of our current principals of Saint Cornelius, Saint Pascal, Our Lady of Victory and Saint Tarcissus over the last year of planning for Pope Francis Global Academy," Rigg said. "You have made this new school possible. Our searches for deputy principal, director of advancement and enrollment, and director of business operations are still in process, and we hope to have announcements shortly on these positions."

O’Rourke is scheduled to attend the open houses which will be held on both campuses of the academy on Jan. 31.