Gmelich to assume president’s role July 1

Who will be the next principal?


Rose Heppner, Staff Writer

The 2016 presidential election is in full swing. However, NDP’s own selection has already occurred, and NDP has its first president: Principal Jim Gmelich.

Watching dreams become realities is one of Mr. Gmelich’s favorite pastimes. From Bemis Field, a $4.5-million project, to new faith-based director’s positions–including ones for Christian Service Learning and Student Formation–NDP’s future looks to be one of change and growth under his leadership.

With his promotion, a search is under way to find a new principal. The Diocese of Phoenix has set the application deadline for Friday, May 20.

As principal, Gmelich is the chief executive and chief operator of NDP. As principal, he is a teacher and student coordinator; he works with teacher schedules, oversee retreats and other  programs, and essentially everything necessary to be a diocesan high school.

“The purpose of the president is to work with the principal to align the school standards,” he said, adding, “My fun will be  watching everybody have fun.”

The Diocese of Phoenix oversees all elementary  schools, high schools, and other service, support and educational institutions considered to be apostolates, according to Gmelich. NDP is a separately incorporated from the diocese and operates as an independent corporation with guidance from the diocese, he said.

Mr. Gmelich said he aims to ensure NDP maintains the principles it advertises–staying true to the mission statement and working through future strategies to expand its commitment to the academic, co-curricular and formation programs that exist at NDP.

Beginning July 1, Gmelich will start a new horizon of opportunities. As NDP’s first president, he will take on a more extensive workload, particularly in the areas of advancement, fundraising,  public relations and strategic planning. He will work more in the realm of finance and building NDP up rather than spending time with the faculty and student body of NDP. His office may move from the Administration building to the Advancement building.

Part of being president is planning ahead. “You have to see at least four years in advance, even what is five, seven, 10 years down the road,” Gmelich said.

His first goal for NDP’s future is to create an environment that allows the NDP community to build a center for the arts.

However, what he plans for academically goes beyond just fundraising, even past the curriculum. He said the school’s future is really determined by resourceful planning, which is exactly what his new job will enable him to do.

He said he will look into creating more connections for internships for students, building the school’s endowment, and perhaps even business partnerships with local companies.

“The president-principal model represents a strategic enhancement of the school’s approach to development and advancement, educational excellence, and the continued formation of students as missionary disciples in the Catholic faith” said Bishop Thomas Olmsted in making the announcement.

MaryBeth Mueller, superintendent of the Diocese of Phoenix’s Catholic schools, said, “This new dual executive leadership model at Xavier and Notre Dame Prep is a reflection of Bishop Olmsted’s commitment to the community.” She said she sees the new model to promote faith, academics and service to strengthen students’ Catholic identity.

Gmelich said he hopes to expand NDP’s Catholic identity, especially since he has been a part of the Catholic school system all his life, spending only five years away from Catholic schools.

Gmelich said he loves Catholic education because it defines NDP’s identity, and he hopes to create more opportunities for NDP’s Catholic identity to grow even further.

What is interesting about the new president is that he never planned on being involved in academics. Gmelich was heading for law school. However, he was employed during his senior year in college as a T.A. at Palisades High School in California, and he realized how much he enjoyed it.

He planned on teaching for a few years and then leaving education to continue his path towards law school. However, he decided that teaching and being involved in education was his calling. He became an assistant principal after six years of teaching at Brophy College Preparatory, where he remained assistant principal/dean for 10 years. Gmelich also spent time as principal at two Catholic high schools in Colorado before coming to NDP.

He said he looks forward to his role as president, and although he didn’t enter the Catholic school system looking to work in financial management, his new position indicates he has become good at doing just that.