The Naperville Catholic school community will soon bid goodbye to a modern day legend and educational leader now that Frank Glowaty, 68, principal of Ss. Peter and Paul School, is stepping down at the end of the school year after 39 years of service.
In a time when most principals last no more than a decade, Glowaty has defied the odds of longevity in his job by bringing his “A” game to work day after day, year in and year out, according to those who work closely with him.
“I’ve been his secretary the past three years and have also worked here as a second grade aide and I’ve been a parent of two children who have gone to this school,” said Gwen Wujciga. “Frank has been a gift to all of us. He’s incredibly dedicated when it comes to Catholic education. He’s as passionate about what he does as the first day he came here and he loves the kids.”
Wujciga said that for her boss, working at Ss. Peter and Paul “is more than a job. It’s a vocation and he lives his faith each day by what he does.”
Eighth-grade Spanish teacher Sue Gensler, who has logged two decades at the school herself, says the educational leader of the school “has always been an advocate for the school and the students.”
“Frank had a faculty meeting with us recently and he was all charged up about our developing professional learning communities, which is not easy to do given we’re a small school,” Gensler said. “He’s very technologically oriented and he continues to challenge us. He’s never sat back on his laurels and we have goal setting sessions in the spring and he’s always coming up with ideas to make us better.”
Glowaty said he had been a product of the Catholic school system since he was 5 years old. He attended high school at St. Mel in Chicago, undergraduate studies at Lewis University in Romeoville, and then a master’s program at St. Xavier in Chicago. He later taught for eight years at St. Dennis School in Lockport before his career in administration took flight.
“I taught and coached at St. Dennis and while I was there, I worked for two principals and like a lot of young people, I thought I could do some things better and I wanted to see if my ideas would work,” Glowaty said. “This was at a time not long after Vatican II, and a lot of the sisters were leaving education and it was hard to attract students. I thought a more energetic approach would be good.”
Glowaty said he finished his duties at St. Dennis a week before Ss. Peter and Paul School was let out for summer that year and it allowed him to survey the field and get ready to take over the helm.
“I arrived about a week early and it gave me a chance to observe the culture here, so I talked to parents, read the principal’s newsletter, spoke with students and I started putting together notes about where we’d go and the changes we’d make, and when school first opened, things came together beautifully,” he said.
Glowaty’s honeymoon soon hit the skids, however, and by October “things started to crash.” He made notes and vowed to make changes the following year.
“Things started out well again, only this time within two months things crashed again and I thought, if it takes me nine years to get this to run smooth as a top then that’s what I’m going to do,” he said. “As it turns out, that never happened. The thing is there are always problems or issues you have to deal with, but I’m most proud of the school and the fact that each year, we’re ambitious about our goals and that we academically and spiritually serve the students.”
Gensler says her boss’ networking with parents and others in the community has allowed him “to know everybody,” which will make replacing him extremely difficult.
“It’s going to be a challenge for someone to pick up where he left off,” she said. “For anyone from the outside to come in and do what he’s done will be extremely difficult.”
Glowaty said he won’t actually retire completely from his duties at the school. For the past 25 years, he’s also worked as the school’s advancement director and has established three endowments worth a total of $13 million.
“I’m going to continue to work three days a week as the advancement director and continue with the golf outing and dinner dance and other things we have in addition to trying to get people to leave money to the school,” he said. “As far as my successor goes, I think there is a structure in place here with a strong faculty and great leadership among our four boards, in addition to our pastor. All of that is a great plus for my successor to give him what he needs to help change and make this grow.”