The following story appeared in the February 24 Idaho Catholic Register.
By Gene Fadness
Dr. Sarah Quilici, a longtime educator and administrator in both public and Catholic schools, was named last week as the next principal at Bishop Kelly High School beginning this fall. She succeeds Mike Caldwell, who is retiring after nine years as principal of the Catholic high school.
“We are very pleased to have such an experienced leader take on the role of principal at Bishop Kelly,” said Bishop Kelly President Bill Avey. “Dr. Quilici is a highly respected member of our Catholic community with extensive experience in our Catholic schools.
I am confident in her ability to serve BK as an effective administrator and spiritual leader.”
Dr. Quilici has been an educator in Catholic and public schools for the last 20 years. She began her career in education in 2002 as a high school English teacher in the West Ada School District.
She first came to Bishop Kelly 2004 as a speech and debate teacher, a position she learned about while working on her master’s degree in English and on her dad’s farm.
“I grew up on a farm in Meridian, and I knew of Bishop Kelly, but I did not have the opportunity to attend school there,” Quilici said. “Scott Coulter (former BK principal) called me while I was out irrigating in my dad’s mint field and asked if I would teach part time at Bishop Kelly and coach speech and debate. It was my first experience at the school, and I was blessed to get to know so many wonderful people.”
Later, Quilici became an assistant principal at BK, but left in 2011 to serve the Boise School District as an assistant principal at Timberline High School for three years. In 2014, she was hired as principal at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Boise. Three years later, she was appointed Superintendent of Idaho Catholic Schools, overseeing 15 Catholic K-8 schools and two Catholic high schools in Idaho. (The other Catholic high school is St. John Bosco Academy in Cottonwood.) After serving as Superintendent for five years, she returned to Bishop Kelly last fall as the Vice Principal of Academic Affairs.
Many of Bishop Kelly’s policies and processes bear Dr. Quilici’s fingerprints, according to a press release provided by the school. “She was instrumental in bringing blended learning to BK in 2008, helped formalize student support services, hired the first Student Support Coordinator in 2011, and is currently leading BK’s six-year accreditation process,” the press release stated. “She is skilled at leading professional development for administrators and faculty, and has demonstrated excellence in management and organizational leadership in her role as Superintendent of Catholic Schools.”
Dr. Quilici holds a Ph.D. from the University of Idaho, an Education Specialist in Administration from the University of Idaho, and a Masters in English and a bachelor’s in English Teaching from Boise State University.
Dr. Avey’s role as president of the school is focused on external relations with donors, members of the board and community members. The principal focuses on internal matters: curriculum, teachers, and students.
“As a team, the president and principal work to drive forward the strategic goals of the school,” Dr. Quilici said. “Both of us are responsible for developing students, staff and families in spirit, mind and body. We have an excellent leadership team, including a chaplain, Father Gregory Vance, that allows us to help students to grow.”
Last fall, Bishop Kelly completed a comprehensive self-study for accreditation, assessing how the school was performing in four key areas: mission and Catholic identity; governance and leadership; academic excellence; and operational vitality.
“As part of this study, we developed a goal in each area. This spring, we will refresh our strategic plan with the information we learned from our self-study,” Dr. Quilici said. “My first goal is to begin implementing the goals we have set forward. I have a unique opportunity because I already know many of the stakeholders at the school, so we can hit the ground running.”
A convert to Catholicism, Dr. Quilici was Confirmed 20 years ago this year.
Her interest in Catholicism began when she was director of youth ministry and a Confirmation instructor in the United Methodist Church. “I recognized the roots of the Protestant faith were in Catholicism,” she said in a 2017 article in the Idaho Catholic Register. At about the same time she met her future husband, Tony, who was Catholic.
A turning point in her search came when visited the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. “I bought a rosary there and started praying the rosary even though I was not Catholic.” She took RCIA classes at St. Mark’s Church in Boise.
She and Tony were married in 2002 and she was Confirmed in 2003.
The Quilicis are members of St. Mark’s Parish where she is a lector, and they are involved in the marriage ministry.
She is an avid runner who has completed the Boston Marathon twice.
The Quilicis are parents to four children, all in Catholic schools, including a freshman at Bishop Kelly.
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