The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Catholic High appoints Steve Straessle as head of school

Published: May 25, 2023   
Catholic High School
Catholic High principal Steve Straessle (center) will become the head of school beginning July 1. Assistant principal Matt Dempsey (left) will become the principal and alumni director and English teacher Steve Aday will become the assistant principal.

Steve Straessle, principal of Catholic High School in Little Rock, will take on a new role as head of school for starting July 1. 

Assistant principal Matt Dempsey will move into the role of principal, while alumni director and English teacher Steve Aday will serve as the school’s new assistant principal.

“With many challenges and opportunities facing education right now, I can think of no one better than Matt and Steve to help steer our storied school toward a thriving future,” Straessle said. “Both of these leaders are Catholic High graduates, but more importantly, they truly understand and are committed to nurturing the vital work we do here of transforming boys into good leaders, good fathers and good husbands in their communities.”

The expanded three-person leadership team, along with the Catholic High School board of directors and rector Msgr. Lawrence Frederick, will work together to ensure the faith-based, private high school best serves its students in a future filled with opportunities.

“Steve Straessle will still be as much of a presence on campus as in the past 18 years he’s served as principal, but he will have a new focus on ensuring the Catholic High School mission aligns with the changing dynamics in education across the state and country,” Msgr. Frederick said. “This change makes for an increasingly efficient administrative team.” 

Straessle will continue to serve as the voice for the school, engaging with Catholic High’s students, parents, alumni and supporters while leading the school’s operations. 

“This is an exciting moment for our school as we focus on championing the Catholic High vision and spirit for generations to come,” Dempsey said. “Being asked to serve as principal is a humbling experience, but we are fortunate to have a community of leaders and advocates who know in their hearts what the Catholic High experience means for these young men as they grow into the leaders of tomorrow. Each and every day, I wake up grateful to be a part of that work.”

Dempsey, an alumnus of Catholic High School’s Class of 1996, holds a graduate certificate in Catholic school leadership from Creighton University and earned a master’s degree in teaching from the University of Arkansas Monticello. He received his juris doctorate from the University of Arkansas Law School and is a licensed attorney. Dempsey earned his bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and quantitative analysis, as well as a bachelor’s degree in industrial management from the University of Arkansas. In addition to his administrative duties at the school, Dempsey has taught Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Computer Science, Sports Statistics and Religion. He has also served as the faculty sponsor for the school’s Mock Trial team. 

Aday, an alumnus of Catholic High School’s class of 2002, joined the school’s faculty in 2006. He obtained his master’s degree in Catholic school leadership from the University of Dallas and earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Arkansas. As the school’s assistant principal, he will serve as the dean of students. 

“Our students develop a special kind of relationship grounded in their shared Catholic High experience of faith, integrity and duty. I feel that same sense of brotherhood with Matt and Steve and I’m honored to stand beside them,” Aday said. “Together, we’ll continue to build on this strong foundation and ensure our students achieve both personally and academically with a wide range of extracurricular activities and academic offerings from the traditional to aerospace engineering and robotics.”

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