Mad for…James

Then the Lord will guide you always, and satisfy your thirst in parched places, will give strength to your bones and you shall be like a watered garden, like a flowing spring whose waters never fail. (Isaiah 58:11)

When my oldest son, Nick, was a freshman at Guerin Catholic High School, his principal was a remarkable man named Rick Wagner. He is now Deacon Wagner, and he is a Christ-filled man as well as a gifted school administrator. Following a rock star is tough. That was the task assigned to James McNeany when he arrived at GC nearly 7 years ago.

This morning, I attended Guerin Catholic’s “Nest Fest” which is sort of a freshman family orientation event. It was incredibly well run and organized. I was remembering those earlier years as a GC parent and marveling at the evolution that has occurred there. It was an impressive event and I really do believe many newbies around me felt the warm welcome that was intended by McNeany and his team.

When James McNeany first arrived at GC, I’ll be honest….I was wary. His background was as an elementary school principal which is a whole different animal. His own family was also very young. That was two strikes in my mind. When you pair that with the fabulous predecessor, well, I just wasn’t sure AT ALL that his hiring was a good idea. However, when he arrived I noticed immediately one of his clear strengths as a leader. Excellent leaders are people who show others how it’s done by their own example, and James did something I truly respected right out of the gate. It made more impact on me and on many other parents than anything else he did. He started showing up. He was present for EVERYTHING. He was at the play, he attended the Golden Voice concert, the baseball game, the basketball games…at home and on the road. I saw him at the all-school masses. In short, he was very present, and he was smiling.

This is a man who clearly cares about young people– his own children as well as yours and mine. He is willing to listen to frustrated parents even when his schedule is full. Trust me, I know this by personal experience. This is a school administrator who makes every attempt to hire folks who really do love the children first. He’s character-filled and he’s doing his best, which is an important quality in a leader. However, the thing that I respect most about James McNeany is that he realizes that he’s not the most intelligent person in the room at all times, and THIS above all is what makes him a leader for whom we Golden Eagle families should all be grateful!

Thank you for all you do each day for the young people and families of the Guerin Catholic community, Mr. McNeany! Godspeed in your role this year– and good luck to you while you navigate this year as the father of a senior for the first time! What lucky kiddos those McNeany children surely are to call you Dad.

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