Mahalo to Associate Superintendent Lovey-Ann DeRego
By Deborah Manog | This article was also published in the Hawaii Catholic Herald, 7/14/17 Edition
Hawaii Catholic Schools Superintendent Lovey-Ann DeRego has dedicated nearly 40 years to a career in education and there is no doubt in her mind that she has set out to do exactly what she was meant to do.
As a child, she enjoyed many summers in school helping her grandmother and mother, both teachers, prepare their classrooms for the upcoming school year.
“I really was programmed to become a teacher,” DeRego said.
She credits her grandmother for bestowing her with the gift of Faith. She recalls memories of her grandmother gathering all of the grandchildren so sit together in a circle and pray the Rosary during Advent and the Stations of the Cross during the Lenten season.
“My Faith was really nurtured by my grandmother,” DeRego said. “
“My mother gave me the gift of a good work ethic and love of children and putting that first and foremost in education,” DeRego added.
Principal Bridget Olsen of St. Anthony School in Kailua said she has witnessed DeRego give many hours of her time as a volunteer board member of her parish Stewardship Committee and has worked to increase community involvement in the various ministries of the parish.
“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.
Both DeRego’s grandmother and mother taught at public schools and encouraged DeRego to do the same. But after attending and graduating from Sacred Hearts Academy in 1972, DeRego said, “I really felt that it was a blessing to be able to pray with the kids before the school day started so that’s where I stayed. After dedicating more than thirty years to a career in Catholic education, she has no regrets.
Soon after graduating from Chaminade University with her Bachelor’s in Education, DeRego was hired at Sacred Hearts Convent School and then worked at Saint Ann Model Schools. After getting married, she took a brief hiatus from her career to raise her children. Eight years later she returned to the education work force at Saint Ann Model Schools, then began teaching at Saint Anthony School in Kailua, where she eventually assumed the positions as Vice Principal and later, Principal. While working full-time, DeRego was also taking night classes to earn her Master’s Degree from Chaminade University. After 14 years at St. Anthony’s, she was hired as Associate Superintendent for the Office of Hawaii Catholic Schools.
Throughout her 11 years at Hawaii Catholic Schools, DeRego will be leaving huge shoes to fill. When she first came onboard in 2006, not all of the Hawaii Catholic Schools were accredited. She served as the WCEA Commissioner in Hawaii, guiding schools through the accreditation process. Now, all schools are accredited from preschool to grade twelve. She has been instrumental in communicating with the University of San Francisco over a doctrinal program slated to start next spring, which has garnered interest from about 20 local administrators and educators.
DeRego has also worked so well in partnering the schools with the American Heart Association and now all of the 8th grade students are graduating from Hawaii Catholic Schools, with CPR training. As a member of the committee that plans the Annual Choral Festival, she has witnessed the number of student participants grow every year. She is proud to say that the performances keep getting better and better.
As DeRego reflects on her biggest contributions to Hawaii Catholic Schools, she notes that her biggest challenge on the job has been transitioning to work with the adult leadership of schools rather than working with the children, her one love.
“I really wish our offices (at St. Stephen Diocesan Center) were adjacent to a school because the kids give us energy to do our jobs,” DeRego said. She hopes that her retirement will allow her to return to working with children directly, perhaps as a volunteer tutor.
Seeing a child learn and grow is the passion that fuels her as an educator.
“When you see a struggling child, you work with them and you finally see that lightbulb go off, that, to me, is a real gift,” DeRego said.
Although DeRego’s educational background was originally in secondary education, she was hired to teach the second and third grade classes at Anthony School in Kailua. Thus, the teacher became a student herself and had to learn how new skills including how to teach young children how to read. This, she said, turned out to be one of the most enjoyable parts of her entire teaching career.
“Lovey has been a great part of the HCS Office team for ten years and she will be greatly missed. 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,” said Hawaii Catholic Schools Superintendent Michael Rockers.
DeRego looks forward to enjoying her retirement by sewing and spending time with her husband Bill, three children and four grandchildren. But still, she wants to continue to give back to Catholic Education. She hopes to provide guidance to new principals because she knows firsthand how tough it is to be a new leader of a school.
With a deep sigh and a toothy smile, DeRego said she is grateful for every day.
“Knowing that you can make a difference in the lives of the people that you encounter,” DeRego said, is what keeps her going and the reason that she wants to continue to serve Catholic Education even in retirement.