C'Ann Reilly has worn many hats during her time working in Catholic education. Soon, she will remove one of those hats so that it may grace the head of another individual who shares her value for the students at Our Lady of Peace School.
After 28 years as Our Lady of Peace School principal, Reilly recently announced her decision to retire from the position at this school year's end. Our Lady of Peace teacher Maureen Kerr will assume the role after Reilly's retirement.
"I've been a student, parent, grandparent, teacher and administrator," Reilly said regarding the perspectives she has always been mindful of when considering how her decisions as principal impact those involved in education.
Photo by Rebecca Olsavsky - From left, the Rev. Dennis Schuelkens, pastor at Our Lady of Peace, Our Lady of Peace School Principal C’Ann Reilly and teacher Maureen Kerr plan a smooth transition as Kerr will become principal once Reilly retires at the end of the school year. Reilly, who served as principal for 28 years, said Kerr has “the gift of leadership.”
Her choice to leave her position was no different, and Reilly has confidence Kerr will continue to foster the school's mission of PEACE: prayer; encouragement and example; academic excellence; community, commitment, covenant; and esteem for ourselves and others.
Reilly began her role as principal when Kerr was in the first grade at Our Lady of Peace.
Kerr has taught at Our Lady of Peace for 11 years and worked on special administrative projects with Reilly during the past 18 months.
Reilly witnessed Kerr's "gift of leadership" even while the latter was still a student at the school.
"As she became more involved with faculty over these past years, I could see that leadership grow," said Reilly, who believes Our Lady of Peace is in very good shape with strong enrollment, recent facility renovations and a supportive school community she refers to as "family."
When Reilly moved from Huntington - where she was a principal at St. Joseph's High School - to Wheeling, she did so to start a new family. Beginning her role as principal at Our Lady of Peace, she quickly discovered love for her school family as well. Although she said her heart will always be with the school, Reilly would like to enjoy more quality time with her personal family, including her husband, Phil Reilly, six children and 16 grandchildren.
"C'Ann Reilly's dedication to the school ... is remarkable. The diocese will truly miss her presence at Our Lady of Peace. We have great hopes for the (school's) future built upon the strong foundation (she established)," said Vincent DePaul Schmidt, superintendent of Catholic schools.
The Rev. Dennis Schuelkens, pastor at Our Lady of Peace, referred to Reilly as "an exceptional leader who has successfully cultivated a team, community, a family of teachers, support staff and volunteers who educate the leaders of tomorrow in character, academics, the arts, sports - all aspects of life. Her impact will remain and always be felt."
Reilly will continue to serve the school in a different capacity, consulting for special projects. She will also write and direct the annual Christmas show as she has in the past.
Members of the school's community readily compliment Reilly's commitment to her work. She, in turn, tips her hat to those who have made Our Lady of Peace a place of PEACE.
"The people ... That is who I will miss the most," Reilly said.