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New school superintendent on learning tour

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SAN DIEGO — As a new academic year dawns, the students won’t be the only ones with homework to do.

Leticia Oseguera, the new diocesan superintendent of schools, anticipates that this will be “a year of learning” for her, too.

Oseguera, who assumed leadership of the diocesan Office for Schools in July, wants each of the 46 Catholic elementary and high schools in the diocese to thrive. That means having healthy enrollment, highly trained teachers, and engaged students who are not only acquiring academic knowledge but also growing in their faith.

But before she can truly help them, she needs to get to know the schools.

Within her first few months, Oseguera hopes to visit every school in the diocese and meet with their principals and pastors. By the end of July, she plans to begin scheduling these meetings.

She doesn’t want to make any assumptions based on her personal experience at Mater Dei Juan Diego Academy in Chula Vista, where she recently completed five years as principal. Rather, she intends to do a lot of listening to the principals’ own assessment of their school’s strengths and areas for growth.

Through these conversations, Oseguera hopes to identify both school-specific and diocese-wide goals for improvement.

“We have some schools that may be struggling, and we have some schools that are thriving, but all of them need some sort of support,” said Oseguera, who has 19 years of experience in education, including seven in public schools and 12 within the San Diego Diocese. “So, the question is: What are the specific needs of that school, and how can we best support them?”

Even currently thriving schools won’t be off the hook. No matter how well a school is doing, there is always room for growth.

Oseguera is also committed to continuing the “culture of collaboration” fostered by her predecessor, John Galvan, and the office’s associate directors, Dr. Julie Cantillon and Matt Cordes.

“We’re all in this together, and we’re all here to support each other, learn from each other, grow together,” she said.

Another priority will be doing whatever she can to support teachers and especially principals.

“I think that the principal position is critical in ensuring that we have a thriving school,” she said. “If the leader is the right leader for that school, then the school will thrive.”

Reflecting on her humble background, Oseguera shared that her father attended school through the first grade and her mother has only a third-grade education. Her parents immigrated from Mexico to the United States when she was 8 years old so that she and her siblings would have better educational opportunities.

She now holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Literature from the University of California, San Diego; a master’s in Education from Claremont Graduate University; and a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration from St. Thomas University.

Oseguera was inspired to become a teacher to help other children to receive a quality education. As superintendent of diocesan schools, she is now in a position to support Catholic school children in both San Diego and Imperial counties.

She said she is aware that the accessibility and affordability of Catholic education is a concern for families across the diocese.

“This is an area that I want to explore, analyze and work collaboratively with our schools and parishes to address.”

Overall, her new position is “more than a dream-come-true.”

“It’s a big responsibility, and so, I take it very seriously … I will work very hard to fulfill that commitment to the students and to the families, because they are our future, and so we have the future in our hands.”

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