St. Matthew School Principal Honored for Outstanding Work

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St. Matthew School Principal Honored for Outstanding Work

Published: May 15, 2017.

(L to R) Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Siegel, Gina Pestrak,
Father Jerome Kish and Father John Belmonte, S.J.

The Lewis University Institute for the Advancement of Catholic and Lasallian Education honored Gina Pestrak, principal of St. Matthew School in Glendale Heights, with the Eighth Annual Bishop Roger L. Kaffer Outstanding Principal Award in the Diocese of Joliet.

The April 27 award ceremony at Lewis University included more than 100 principals, educators, support staff and friends from around the Diocese of Joliet. “It is an honor to recognize the steadfast faith and leadership of the many outstanding principals in the Joliet Diocese,” said Dr. Pamela Jessee, dean of the Lewis University College of Education.

“Gina Pestrak personifies the Catholic values and principles of school leadership honored in the Bishop Roger L. Kaffer Oustanding Principal Award,” Jessee added.

Pestrak began her teaching career in 2007 at All Saints Academy in Naperville. Five years later, she was appointed principal of St. Matthew School. Under her leadership, the school has been transformed and is prospering. The teaching staff was restructured and curriculum updates implemented. Students’ math and language arts standardized test scores have dramatically increased.

“Gina’s collaboration with the parish community and parish leadership councils helps our school to thrive. God works miracles here and we are glad Gina does her part to make that happen,” said Father Jerome Kish, pastor of St. Matthew Parish.

The Bishop Roger L. Kaffer Award is in honor of the auxiliary bishop that served in many roles as an educational leader during his more than 50 years of priesthood in the Joliet Diocese. He served as rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Romeoville before becoming principal of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, where he revitalized the school and personally met with each school family.

The award is sponsored and given by the Institute for the Advancement of Catholic and Lasallian Education. The institute focuses on leadership development, teacher preparation, professional development, outreach and consulting, grants and research and Lasallian formation. For further information, please contact Larry Wiers, director of the Institute for the Advancement of Catholic and Lasallian Education, at or 815-836-5790.

Lewis University is an innovative and entrepreneurial Catholic university offering market-relevant undergraduate and graduate programs to 6,500 students. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis University is nationally recognized for preparing intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected and socially responsible graduates. Visit for further information.

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