Jun 3, 2014

Holyoke Catholic community meets new principal Roberta Lojko



Story and photos by Rebecca Drake

CHICOPEE – Students, faculty and staff at Holyoke Catholic High School, here, met their newly appointed principal, Roberta Lojko (pronounced “Lay-ko”) during a special assembly this morning.

Lojko, who was officially appointed by Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell based on the recommendation of a search committee, will  begin her tenure on July 1, and will replace the outgoing principal, Theresa Kitchell (left in photo below), who will retire at the end of this academic year. Speaking to iobserve, Lojko said Kitchell will be “a very tough act to follow.”

“She (Kitchell) is a very classy, very smart, capable administrator,” said Lojko. She noted that Holyoke Catholic has faced numerous challenges in recent years as it relocated from Holyoke to a temporary location in Granby and then to its present location in Chicopee.

“She did a marvelous job during those transitions,” Lojko said.

With 33 years of experience in public schools, Lojko herself has an impressive career background as an English teacher, high school assistant principal, test preparation and assessment coordinator, and a curriculum development specialist. Most recently, she was an English teacher and the assessment coordinator at Ludlow High School. 

A letter distributed to the Holyoke Catholic school community today announced Lojko’s appointment and detailed her previous positions, stating, “In those capacities she has supervised teachers and guidance counselors, created the master schedule for a school of 2,000 students, coordinated and managed grant applications, programs and funding, developed and implemented staff development programs for the orientation and evaluation of teachers, and has taught English courses at the high school and community college levels.  

“She has been a presenter and facilitator of numerous workshops in the teacher supervision process, curriculum development, teaching through writing process, guidance/college planning information nights and incoming student orientations,” the letter stated.

Lojko also is trained in conflict resolution.

She holds Massachusetts teacher certifications in English, grades seven-12, and as a secondary principal/assistant principal. She earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and secondary education from Simmons College and a master’s degree in English as well as a certificate of advanced graduate studies in educational administration from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“Roberta has a wide range of educational experience,” said Franciscan Sister of St. Joseph Andrea Ciszewski, superintendent of schools for the Springfield Diocese. “She comes well-qualified, with high recommendations.”

Sister Ciszewski also noted that Lojko “desires to integrate her Catholic faith into her leadership at Holyoke Catholic High School.”

As she begins her duties at Holyoke Catholic later this year, Lojko said she plans to “spend a lot of time asking questions about the culture, operation and instruction and learning about the school, the students and the families.” 

Asked what her impressions of the school have been thus far, Lojko said, “It is very welcoming and warm… with a lot of dedicated faculty and staff working hard to make it a place of academic excellence.

“It’s a great place to educate kids,” she said.

Lojko, a parishioner of St. Mary Parish in Ware, also said she looks forward to working in a faith-based environment, “where my values are shared and I can bring my faith to the workplace and can be myself in a leadership role.

Watch for a special news report on Holyoke Catholic's new principal on the June 7 edition of the Springfield Dicoese's weekly newsmagazine "Real to Reel," which airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.