Dr. Jim Quaid has enjoyed a long career as an educator in Catholic schools.
Now, the former South Side resident is returning to the community as president of St. Rita High School.
Quaid, who currently works at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, will assume his new role after Thanksgiving.
St. Rita officials announced Quaid’s hiring as president on Nov. 4.
Since coming on board, Quaid has visited the all-boys Augustinian school to view students’ day-to-day life, and he’s excited to get started.
“I think one of the great things about St. Rita is when you talk about Catholic schools, it’s ‘mind, body, spirit,’” Quaid said. “And as far as their faith formation goes, it’s second to none. A lot of other schools use them as a model.”
Quaid lives in suburban Westchester but is a former Evergreen Park resident and longtime parishioner of Most Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church. His wife, Diane, works at St. Gerald Elementary School in Oak Lawn and also worked at Our Lady of the Ridge and St. Denis elementary schools. Their children graduated from Catholic schools.
Quaid is director of student services at Fenwick and was previously associate superintendent for the Archdiocese of Chicago. He has also worked at DePaul College Prep, in the North Center neighborhood, and Marmion Academy, a high school in Aurora.
He helped DePaul College Prep transition from Gordon Tech High School in 2014 after DePaul University partnered with the school in 2012 and revamped the curriculum.
He said Catholic education has always appealed to him because it develops “the whole person.”
According to St. Rita, during his 39 years as an educator, Quaid has been a coach, dean of students, principal and president, while also serving on boards at local elementary schools, secondary schools and universities.
Quaid said St. Rita has always impressed him, whether it was witnessing the Rev. Tom McCarthy, former St. Rita president and principal, leading retreats or when Quaid coached against the Mustangs.
His opinion grew stronger after seeing the school in action.
“I was very impressed with the teachers and just the culture in general,” Quaid said. “Their students moved along; they knew exactly what they were supposed to be doing. It’s just a great school. I think it’s got a great tradition.”
Quaid has held leadership positions in the Chicago Catholic League (CCL), of which St. Rita is a member, as well as the East Suburban Catholic Conference (ESCC) and Illinois High School Association. He is a Hall of Fame inductee in the CCL and ESCC.
Quaid hasn’t yet finalized specific goals for St. Rita, but he plans to establish more partnerships with universities.
Quaid succeeds Mike Zunica, who was president through the 2018-19 school year and is now employed at Br. Rice High School.
According to officials, day-to-day operations at St. Rita are being led by Wes Benak, interim CEO and vice president of academics; Josh Blaszak, vice president of student life; and Eileen Spulak, vice president of finance.
In a news release, St. Rita officials praised Quaid.
“St. Rita High School is a vitally important ministry of the Midwest Augustinians, and finding the right leader to guide the school’s efforts has been a top priority,” said the Rev. Anthony B. Pizzo, O.S.A., prior provincial of the Midwest Augustinians. “I am very pleased that [Quaid] has accepted this position. His understanding and appreciation of our Augustinian mission and its corresponding values—truth, unity and love—makes this appointment a perfect fit.”
School officials said stakeholder interviews were conducted with faculty, staff, parents, alumni, board members, Augustinians and students before a search committee selected the incoming president.
Catharine Hennessy, who led the committee, said Quaid was an ideal selection after it interviewed many qualified candidates.
“Dr. Quaid’s experience, ideas and enthusiasm checked every box for St. Rita,” Hennessy said. “The fact that he is so familiar with the South Side of Chicago is a plus.”
St. Rita Board Chair Ernie Mrozek also expressed confidence in Quaid.
“This is an exciting time in the history of our school, and I am confident that Jim Quaid will provide the leadership that will further enhance the all-around excellence that distinguishes St. Rita today,” Mrozek said. “His career in Catholic secondary education has been characterized by significant achievement and recognition in a variety of roles, and he is well respected throughout the Chicago education community. We are fortunate to have a man of his experience, talents and personal skills now leading our school.”