Before Sister Daleen Larkin was celebrated at a farewell Mass and reception for her 23 years as principal of St. Andrew School on June 24, the 64-year-old woman religious talked to The Tidings about how Catholic education has and hasn’t changed, the joys and challenges of being a parochial school administrator as well as being the last in the continuing line of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary principals of the Pasadena elementary school going back to 1897. “Catholic schools have moved into the technological era, and so integrating technology across the curriculum has been a huge process during my administration,” she observed. “Also doing the job of principal administration in elementary schools has become more complex. “So the job has just really grown, and part of that’s administration. Part of that’s personnel. Part of it is human resources. It’s finances. It’s plant management. It’s renovation of buildings. All of those kinds of things are now part of principals’ lives.”When Sister Larkin arrived at St. Andrew’s in the late 1980s, computers were just starting to be part of the education process. Today, Catholic school students are into iPads and tablets, with standards set by the state of California and the federal government. But Sister Larkin stresses that her teachers have never “taught just for standardized tests” the way public schools have been heavily criticized for doing in recent years. Another thing that hasn’t changed at St. Andrew’s is the ongoing faith formation of students and their families ever since the Holy Names Sisters opened the then-called “Academy of Holy Names,” which the congregation owned before selling it to the urban parish.Until 1980, the brick building also included a high school. Today, its 204 kindergarten-through-eighth-grade students mirror the diverse population of Pasadena, coming from Filipino, Asian American, Latino, Anglo plus a smaller number of African American families.“The main joy has been the children — from the little ones to the big ones,” she said of her two-plus decades at the elementary school located on Chester Street just off the 210 Freeway. “Also working with their families and our teachers and staff. I’ve enjoyed being with them and planning activities that make learning enjoyable so children can be engaged. Children are not bored here.”“Probably the big challenge is the financial situation of our nation and our world. Catholic schools’ tuition for some people is affordable, but for others it’s not. So about 25 percent of our families in some way, shape or form receive financial help from the school’s own two scholarship funds along with the Catholic Education Foundation. Still, just balancing the budget — as it is with any Catholic school today — has been difficult.”At the farewell Mass, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary sat in the first two pews, including Sister Catherine Ferguson, international congregational leader. In a statement, she said that the former principal’s leadership in education at St. Andrew’s embodies the SNJM’s commitment to education.“We are proud of Sister Daleen and our community, which has ministered at St. Andrew’s for over 100 years,” she declared. “During her years of service, Sister Daleen continued this tradition with extraordinary leadership skills, excellent communication with families and a loving presence to the children.”In his remarks, Father Paul Sustayta, St. Andrew’s pastor, thanked the principal for “witnessing her faith” for 23 years at the parochial school. “She has really brought the charism of the Sisters with her wonderful way of spirituality to our school, parish and community,” he said. “Hundreds and hundreds of our youths are now responsible adults out in the world serving.” Sister Daleen Larkin, born and raised in San Jose, was sent to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1971 to be the third grade teacher at St. Mary School. She also taught at All Souls School, Alhambra; St. Gerard Majella School, Los Angeles, and St. Stephen School, Monterey Park. In addition, she was the religion coordinator at St. Elizabeth School, Altadena, before being named principal at St. Andrew School in 1989.“Being a teacher and principal has convinced me that education is the key to people’s future,” said Sister Larkin, who in July will become the Western Catholic Educational Association/Western Association of Schools and Colleges accrediting groups coordinator for the archdiocese’s elementary schools. “And a Catholic education creates in children ethical people, and these are the people we need as citizens. So the whole thing about Catholic education being an ‘advantage for life,’ it really is.”After a moment, she added, “The parish is 126 years old. And for so many people it’s the foundation church here in Pasadena, and it’s home. You say, ‘I come from St. Andrew’s,’ and people say, ‘I was baptized there’ or ‘I was married there.’ It’s been wonderful to be part of that foundation church and school, carrying on the legacy of our Sisters.“It’s hard to let go of places that we’ve been a long, long time,” Sister Larkin acknowledged. “It’s also wonderful to know we hand the school to wonderfully competent Catholic educators who will carry on all those good things that people have done for years in Catholic schools.” Editor’s note: St. Andrew School’s new principal is Kenneth Foersch, former assistant principal and dean of discipline at Servite High School in Anaheim.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0629/srdaleen/{/gallery}