By Deborah Manog Special to the Herald
After dedicating nearly 40 years to a career in Catholic education, Hawaii Catholic Schools associate superintendent Lovey-Ann DeRego retired on June 30 with no doubt in her mind that she has done exactly what she was meant to do.
“I was really prepared to become a teacher early on,” DeRego said.
As a child, she enjoyed many summers helping her mother prepare her classroom for the upcoming school year.
“My mother, a single parent, instilled in me the gift of a good work ethic and love of children,” she said. One of six children, DeRego has two sisters and three brothers.
She credits her maternal grandmother for bestowing her with the gift of faith.
“My faith was really nurtured by my grandmother,” said DeRego, who has memories of her gathering all the grandchildren to sit in a circle to pray the rosary during Advent and the stations of the cross during Lent.
DeRego’s grandmother and mother both taught in public schools and encouraged DeRego to do the same. But after graduating from Sacred Hearts Academy high school in 1972, she felt a call to teach in Catholic schools. She has no regrets.
Soon after graduating from Chaminade College of Honolulu with her bachelor’s degree in education, DeRego was hired at Sacred Hearts Convent School on Bates Street in Nuuanu to teach in its middle school. She later transferred to St. Ann School in Kaneohe to be closer to home.
After getting married, she took a hiatus to raise her three children. Eight years later she returned to the work force at St. Ann School. Eventually, DeRego went to her parish school, St. Anthony in Kailua, where she assumed the positions of vice principal and eventually principal. While working full-time, DeRego earned her master’s degree from Chaminade University.
100 percent accreditation
In 2006, DeRego was hired as associate superintendent of Hawaii Catholic Schools. When she first came aboard not all of Hawaii’s Catholic schools were accredited. As the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA) commissioner in Hawaii, she guided schools through the accreditation process.
It was hard-work, but DeRego loved it.
“It affirms what schools do well and where we need to grow,” she said.
DeRego is happy to report that all Catholic schools in Hawaii, from preschool to grade 12, are now accredited.
She was also instrumental in working with the University of San Francisco to bring to Hawaii a Jesuit doctoral program slated to begin next spring. Many principals and teachers are enthusiastic about the program, she said.
DeRego also partnered well with community organizations such as the American Heart Association. All eighth grade Catholic school students now graduate with training in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), a lifesaving procedure for someone whose breathing or heartbeat has stopped.
The associate superintendent also organized the annual Catholic school choral festival held each March in the Clarence T.C. Ching Gymnasium at the Maryknoll Community Center. The number of participants grows every year and, she is proud to say, their performances get better and better. Maryknoll School live-streams the event on the internet for parents or guardians unable to attend.
Seeing a child learn and grow
As DeRego reflects on her past contributions to Catholic education, she looks forward to a retirement working with children, perhaps as a volunteer tutor.
Seeing a child learn and grow is a passion that fuels her as an educator.
“When you see a struggling child and then the light bulb going on, that is pure joy,” DeRego said.
Bridget Olsen, principal of St. Anthony School in Kailua, has witnessed DeRego give many hours as a volunteer member of her parish stewardship committee, working to increase community involvement in the various ministries of the parish.
DeRego also serves her parish as a sacristan and eucharistic minister.
“Lovey has a deep faith, a love of God, and a strong desire to share and help others to be involved in their church,” said Olsen.
Hawaii Catholic Schools superintendent Michael Rockers said DeRego will be greatly missed.
“Lovey has been a great part of the HCS Office team for 11 years,” he said. “Her faith, dedication, expertise and hard work have made her a great employee and colleague. She has been a great personal and professional blessing to so many affiliated with our schools.”
DeRego looks forward to enjoying her retirement by sewing and spending time with her husband Bill, their three children, and four grandchildren. She has also committed to mentoring new principals in the fall, as a way to give back to Catholic education.
Her days will continue to be busy, no doubt about that.
With a sigh and a smile, she said, “I am grateful for every day.”