Former Southwest teacher now at St. Lawrence Catholic School

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Vicki Irsik, right, new principal at St. Lawrence Catholic School in Monett, talks to fourth-grader Clay Butterworth about an experience her cat had with a fox during a classroom visit on the second day of classes at St. Lawrence Catholic School. Murray Bishoff Cassville Democrat

Cassville native takes principal post at Monett Catholic School

Cassville native Vicki Irsik is excited to start her new job as principal at St. Lawrence Catholic School in Monett.

"This place is home," Irsik said. "I've been here since the first of July. I can say the Lord's here, the kids are good and the teachers are phenomenal."

A Cassville High School graduate, Irsik was one of the first babies born at the South Barry County Hospital in Cassville. She and her husband, Mark, also a Cassville High School graduate from 1976, traveled across the nation during his tour of duty with Northwest Airlines and returned to the area 30 years later. Irsik taught all the business classes, including computer apps and web design, at Southwest High School in Washburn for the last five years.

"I planned to retire," Irsik said. "St. Lawrence contacted me and the Lord put me here."

Irsik is the only new person joining the St. Lawrence faculty this year. Her immediate focus has been to update the school's technology system.

"Schreiber Foods, Jack Henry and Associates and larger companies in Monett have been very generous to us," Irsik said. "I'm looking for grants."

St. Lawrence opened school this week with 74 students, in line with enrollment over the past four years. Irsik said the parish is getting older and does not have as many young children as in the past.

"I've set a goal of 120 kids," Irsik said. "That's what we're set up for class-wise. That number of students would allow us to operate on our own without additional help from the St. Lawrence Parish. Our parish is smaller and can't contributed as much as some of the larger ones."

This year, St. Lawrence has six children in the pre-kindergarten class, 10 in kindergarten, and 18 or 19 in the remaining classes through sixth grade.

Irsik also hopes to reach out more to Hispanics in the parish. She and Sister Romelia have talked about starting an English as a second language program for the community. Irsik is also learning Spanish so she can talk to some of the families, though she concedes that is a challenge, with the Guatemalans speaking a different version of Spanish than the Mexicans, and there are two families from Colombia with a very different version as well.

"The 'casa' is still 'house' in all the languages," Irsik said.

"I'd like to build more communication between the parish and the school. We need to all be on the same page."

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