The pathway for Chris Kijowski, Holy Family School principal, included a stroll into the world of Catholic education. Although she said she hadn’t had the opportunity to experience it from the perspective of a student, she knew when she started working within it; it was the place for her.
“It was a fit for me,” she said, adding, “It was like I came home.”
The winding road along Kijowski’s path included a teaching position at St. Rose in Girard, a position as assistant principal at St. Charles in Boardman, and yet another as principal at Youngstown’s St. Matthias, leading her eventually to the hallowed halls of Holy Family School in Poland, of which she said, “I wanted people, when they walked in, to get that feeling of love. I wanted them to love it as much as I loved it.”
“That’s what I love about Holy Family School; we all work together to make it a loving family,” said Kijowski.
On Tuesday, June 7, a line began to form outside of Kijowski’s office as numerous students and grateful parents paid one last visit, as she chose the bend in the road leading toward retirement following a 27-year career in the Catholic Diocese, the last six of which were spent at Holy Family.
Sharing that she’s ready to start the next phase of her life, which will include traveling and spending time with her three grandchildren, Kijowski is already looking ahead, saying, “First of all, I’ll miss the children,” adding, that she would want people to know "how much she loves Catholic education.”
Reflecting on the beginnings of her career, “To me, that’s the thing about education,” said Kijowski, you get that degree, and begin your career with all these grand plans, “finding out that if you make a difference in one child’s life," that’s all that matters.
Sharing that today, more that ever, she feels that children need mentors and tutors, “I want to stay involved in education in some way," said Kijowski. “I just feel that I don’t want to give up that connection.”
The field of education is somewhat of a legacy within Kijowski’s family. Her husband retired following a 35-year teaching career, her daughter is a teacher at Holy Name, and her son is an assistant principal, involved in the field of autism at Pace University in New York City.
Kijowski seems to have never questioned a single step along the way during her life’s work, instead always feeling she was exactly where she was meant to be. Now, following more than a quarter of a century of involvement in her true vocation, Kijowski is once again, coming home.
Following a 27-year career in Catholic education, on Tuesday, June 7, Chris Kijowski opted for a homecoming as she officially entered retirement following her last act of service as Principal at Holy Family School, personally commissioning the school’s students into the next grade at the end of the year mass. Numerous students stopped to offer thanks and say their goodbyes before leaving on the last day of school.