Pat Weis has worked in Catholic schools during her entire 44 years in education. Thirty-three of those years were spent as a principal, and for the past 10 years, Weis has left her mark as the St. Mary School principal in DeKalb. She is set to retire June 30.
Daily Chronicle reporter Stephanie Hickman sat down with Weis during her final days at St. Mary School.
Hickman: How did you get into education?
Weis: I always wanted to be a teacher. My first job was in Catholic schools in Aurora. And I taught history. History was my love, it still is my love ... and I was at the same school teaching junior high for 11 years. Did a lot of innovative projects. It was back in the ’70s and it was during bicentennial time. We did a huge bicentennial fair so I was always creative, I had this niche ... until one day the pastor of the school came up to me and said, ‘There’s an opening in Geneva at St. Peter’s for principal, and I want you there.’ Never did I ever think about being a principal. So after 11 years as a teacher, I was principal at St. Peter’s in Geneva for six years.
Hickman: What do you plan to do with your retirement?
Weis: I have been living in Sugar Grove. There is a new church that was just built there, St. Catherine Drexel. And I have been volunteering there as the director of religious education. So basically, I’m still going to be in the education part and still in the Catholic entity part of it. ... It’ll just be one day a week, and I’ll be able to do a lot more reading and again using my experience and my networking. ... When you’re around long enough ... you’re able to make all those connections and you have the answers, or you’re able to find the answers, which is equally as important.
Hickman: You’ve been in Catholic education your entire career. Was that important to you or is that just how it happened?
Weis: Yes and yes, to both questions. My first job was in Catholic education and I enjoyed it because I had that latitude. And as I got into a leadership role in principal, you have that ability to create and design without the bureaucracy. And the more experienced you are the more things you can do because you are trusted and respected and people know what you’re going to do. ... I stayed in Catholic schools because of family. ... Allowing me to work in a Catholic school, I was able to go to my daughter’s tennis matches. How can I neglect my family? How can I let my teachers neglect their families?
Hickman: What kind of impact do you hope to leave on this school?
Weis: I don’t know how to say this, but I expect that the new person to come in to be their own leader. I truly believe in out of sight out of mind. I’m gone. And I should be gone. And I guess I want to leave when things are up here. But I don’t expect to be revered, remembered and so forth. It’s a new generation. It’s new beginnings. Continue. Move forward. And that’s what life is about.
Hickman: What will you miss most about being in education?
Weis: I really don’t know because I’ve never been not [in education]. ... I am ready. I am confident. I am ready to retire. I am ready to start something different.