After three years as president and CEO of the Mount St. Mary Academy and Foundation, Dr. Pattie Davis has accepted an appointment as the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, starting June 1.
While Davis has cherished serving as the leader of the Little Rock high school she once attended, she said she is looking forward to returning to the diocesan level to work with school principals on professional development and innovative school governance. She will now oversee a system of 30 schools with a total enrollment of 14,000.
“Instead of dealing with a single campus, you're helping a group and, really, that's always been my kind of forte and interest,” Davis said. “I've always been interested in the vitality of the schools and helping them thrive. Those are the things I'm drawn to, the type of programs that schools offer that enhance our mission to evangelize the faith. They say our schools are our greatest way to evangelize, so that's my interest. I like to be part of that.”
Davis said she will be focused on solidifying and improving the diocese’ school system, starting with elementary schools.
“You've got to start from the very beginning. Strengthen the feeder schools, and it goes right on up into higher ed,” she said. “If you want your Catholic schools to survive, you're going to have to really work on building financial stability. They do have a voucher program in Louisiana. So, that's exciting to have that as a resource.”
She said she also was drawn to Baton Rouge in part because of special education services offered through the St. Margaret of Castello REACH (Religious Education for All CHildren) Program.
“They have a special needs program in different schools, and that's kind of an unusual at the diocesan level,” she said. “Being a mom of a daughter with Down syndrome, I'm very interested to be involved with that. Helping them with advancement in the marketing, enrollment, and all those leadership roles that they have to play is going to be very exciting.”
Early in her career, Theresa Hall, superintendent for Catholic schools for the diocese of Little Rock, worked alongside Davis as a teacher at St. Edward School in Little Rock.
“Pattie has been very, very dedicated to Catholic education since she first became active as a teacher,” Hall said. “She’s always cared so deeply about the children, especially underprivileged children. It will be a loss to our diocese, but I’m glad she’s staying in Catholic education.”
A native of Scott (Pulaski-Lonoke County), Davis began her career as a teacher and principal. In 2006 was promoted to associate superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Little Rock.
In 2009, she left Arkansas to become school superintendent for the Archdiocese of San Antonio and in 2015 took the same position in the Diocese of Las Cruces, N.M. She returned to her home state in 2019.
Davis has earned four degrees, most recently a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the University of Notre Dame in 2021.
While her career will take her to the Bayou State, Davis said she is not completely uprooting from the Natural State. She bought a home near the campuses of the Diocese of Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University, but she plans to keep a home in Little Rock.
“I'm a rural farm girl, so I will definitely miss all our natural resources that we have here, all the rivers and mountains. I don't get out as much as I used to, but I really enjoy Calico Rock, the Big White River, Mount Magazine, all those wonderful things up in the Fayetteville area and, of course, Pinnacle Mountain.
She’ll also miss seeing and interacting day-to-day with her students.
“Just having the everyday life of the girls here,” she said. “You watch them progress, how they develop and how confident they are in their leadership skills. It's incredible, and you're just so proud that you're part of Mount. I'm going to miss so much, and it's kind of hard to believe that it's coming so soon. But I told Father Juan (Manjarrez) at St Edward's — that’s my parish — that they probably won’t miss me because I’ll be back often.”
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