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Q&A with Incoming President James Childs

<img class="size-full wp-image-21128 alignleft lazyload" src="" alt="" width="200" height="250" />We understand members of our community may have questions about how the transition period in which James Childs moves from the principal role into that of president will be managed. This Q&A with Mr. Childs provides clarification about the transition. Additional information regarding the principal search will be shared in the fall.

What initially attracted you to O’Dowd and why did you seek the president position?

I was compelled to pursue the principal opportunity at O’Dowd because of the inspiring vision articulated and enacted by school leadership, faculty and staff, and the student and parent community. I wanted to be a part of the O’Dowd team and to play a role in continuing the momentum and enthusiasm enjoyed by the school. I felt called to seek the president position because of the common perspective Steve Phelps and I shared about Catholic education. We engaged on a daily basis about building the future of O’Dowd. I owe a debt of gratitude to Steve. He was my friend and collaborator and helped me understand what makes O’Dowd so special.

What are the different roles and responsibilities in the president-principal model?

This successful president-principal model – a best practice in Catholic education – was adopted by O’Dowd in 2005 to enable the transformative growth the school has experienced over the last decade. The principal serves as the inward-facing academician and champion of teaching, learning, and best practices. The president serves as the outward-facing institution-builder focused on vision and development. I served in both roles at my previous school, Mission College Preparatory Catholic High School in San Luis Obispo, and have a deep appreciation for the complementary nature of the roles to enable O’Dowd to continue on our successful trajectory.

Your appointment has created a principal vacancy at O’Dowd. What is the plan for the principal search?

Catholic educators sign contracts in April/May for the following school year. Thus, potential principal candidates have already committed to a school for the 2018-19 school year. That is why we will begin our principal search in late fall. We anticipate announcing O’Dowd’s next principal in early spring, and that person will officially assume his/her role on July 1, 2019. I’ve asked Kim Walsh to lead the principal search process and we will provide more information about the search in the fall.

Without a principal next year, what is the plan for the transition year to ensure O’Dowd runs smoothly on both the president and principal fronts?

I am confident we have the seasoned leadership in place to effectively manage all aspects of school operations. As I straddle both the president and principal positions next year I will be aided by our three Associate Principals – Brian Judd, Colette Roche and Jase Turner – to whom all school-side functions report. These administrators have long-standing experience here at O’Dowd, last year assumed increased decision-making autonomy, and are fully capable of managing the school functions and partnering with me in moving the school forward. In addition, interim president and board member Kim Walsh has agreed to serve next year in a president emeritus role, ensuring continuity in senior leadership as we undertake this transition.

What are your priorities for the coming year?

We have an exciting and ambitious year ahead! On the school side we will be engaging in our strategic planning and accreditation process through the Western Catholic Educational Association which will enable our continued pursuit of educational excellence and innovation, as well as deepen our commitment to our charism. We will also be actively pursuing the realization of Phase 1 of our Master Plan, which includes purchasing the Seneca land and constructing a new community and athletic center.

Questions? Please email questions to


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