CatholicPhilly.com presents a Q&A with Eileen Vice, the first in a special ongoing series of interviews with leaders of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
What made you decide to pursue a career in education?
I had great teachers in elementary school (St. Anastasia, Newtown Square) and high school (Cardinal O’Hara) and they inspired me to pursue education.
How long have you been working in education?
How many years at Cardinal O’Hara school?
This is my second year.
What makes you most proud as the leader of Cardinal O’Hara?
The students are extraordinary. They truly care about each other and I know they will make a difference in the world. I was always proud to be an alum; now I get the unique experience of serving a new generation of Lions.
What unique academic programs does your school offer students?
We have a Classical track, the Regina Chesterton Academy at Cardinal O’Hara. Students take philosophy and investigate ancient literature, history, theology and Latin. We also added pre-engineering and iPad-iPhone application development and are looking at bringing a medical careers program in the future.
Name the top three points that you tell prospective students and families about your school.
Students have many opportunities to grow academically, spiritually, and personally at O’Hara. The students make O’Hara great, and we very much want new students to dive right in and become active participants in their education. There is truly something for everyone at O’Hara.
What is the one piece of advice that you wish you could go back and tell yourself?
In elementary school: Be kind to everyone and stand up for those that can’t.
In high school: Don’t take shortcuts when it comes to learning. Ask more questions!
What is the greatest challenge in Catholic education today?
Unfortunately, affordability is a huge concern. Families struggle to meet the rising tuition costs as we labor to create a valuable learning environment.
What inspires you to work in Catholic education?
As a product of Catholic education, I understand the goals and vision. I feel that Catholic education affords our students valuable opportunities that help them grow as Catholics and more fully prepares them for the “real” world. Helping our students develop a relationship with Jesus gives them the strength to handle conflicts and other difficult situations in their lives.
What is a special tradition in your school that people should know?
I love when O’Hara includes our families in events such as O’Hara Family Christmas, Mother/Daughter Luncheon, Mother/Son Luncheon, Father/Daughter Dance, Father/Son Phillies Game. These traditions create wonderful memories.
What is your favorite part of the school day or academic year?
This year, in addition to my administrative duties, I also teach a literature class. That is certainly a favorite part of my day. I love walking in the halls when students are present. It gives me a chance to catch up quickly on what is happening with them. I love observing teachers and see their plans come to life in the classroom.
Some of my favorite events during the academic year are NHS (National Honor Society) Installation, Academic Convocation and the various award luncheons and dinners that celebrate the accomplishments of individual or small groups of students. Just being there with them is a great honor.
When you’re not at school what are you most likely doing?
I have five daughters; one in college, three in high school and one in elementary school. So, driving carpool is a big part of my life. My husband and I try to carve out time for each other every week as well.
What is one thing that people would be most surprised to learn about you?
I hate surprises. I like being part of them for others, but definitely not for myself.
What is your favorite restaurant or local attraction?
I live near O’Hara so our favorites are The Porch (try the hot turkey sandwich with bacon gravy) and 3 West (try the peach hot wings).
What are your favorite hobbies?
Reading, and catching up with friends and family.
Who is your favorite sports team?
What is your favorite book?
“To Kill a Mockingbird”
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Any place a cruise ship can take me!