St. Anthony head of school hunt narrowed to 2 candidates

A former principal of Maryknoll School on Oahu and a former principal of a private school on Kauai, both with long records in education in Hawaii, are the finalists for the newly created head of school position at St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School, the only Catholic high school on Maui.

The two finalists, gleaned from a list of six candidates, are Betsey Gunderson and Adah E. Askew. They will be introduced to the school ohana – including interested parents and students – Friday morning.

With 33 years of educational experience, Gunderson currently is director of curriculum at Maryknoll, where she served as principal of the high school for 10 years She was raised on Maui and holds a master’s degree in education, school officials said.

Askew has been in education since the 1970s and is currently affiliated with the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which a state Department of Education website says is a No Child Left Behind program to create community learning centers that provide students with academic enrichment opportunities and complementary exercises to regular academic programs.

She also served as principal of Kula Schools in Na Kamalei, Kauai, and has experience as a counselor, development director, associate director of admissions and dean of students, the school said.

A school board committee, charged with overseeing restructuring of the school and to select the head of school, pared a list of six candidates to two in meetings this week.

The Friday gathering, to be held from 8 to 10 a.m., is part of the final interview process, a news release from the school said. There will be 30-minute sessions in the school’s science labs and Room 112 in the upper campus.

In the sessions, Gunderson and Askew will be introduced and field questions from the audience. The sessions are open to St. Anthony Junior-Senior High School board members, faculty, students and parents.

Input from the participants at Friday’s sessions will be collected, and the school board will meet Friday night to make a final recommendation for the head of school post to Hawaii’s Catholic Church Bishop Larry Silva, who has the final say.

Last month, St. Anthony began accepting applications for the newly created position, part of an effort by the 160-year-old school in Wailuku to restructure its operations to boost enrollment and remain fiscally sound.

A committee was set up to oversee restructuring plans, and a key piece of its work was to lead a search for a head of school, who will be responsible for campus management and fiscal operations.

In the restructuring, the principal’s role will focus on the curriculum, ministry and student activity functions. Pat Rickard, principal for the last three years, will continue to hold the position and also will be academic representative to the board, the news release said.

For more information about the head of school position, contact Catherine Nobriga Kim, who is heading up the committee overseeing restructuring, at 442-3403 or email

The school is continuing to register students for the upcoming school year. For more information, call 244-4190 or go to the website

* Lee Imada can be reached at