David Mueller, the new principal of Archbishop McNicholas High School, brings plenty of experience to his position. In addition to being the principal of St. Xavier High School for 19 years and Mother of Mercy High School for six years, Mueller has a master’s degree in business administration from Xavier University

“Why would a principal get a master’s degree in business administration? The answer is that I became intrigued with the organizational side of schools. What aspects of school operations make them exciting, invigorating places for people to learn and to work? Going down the path of a master’s in business administration enabled me to look and study those kinds of aspects while also giving me a glimpse of the business side of operating schools to compliment my main education in the humanities,” he says.

Cincy Magazine sat down with Mueller to learn more about him and what he hopes to bring to McNicholas.

What appealed to you about becoming the principal of McNicholas?

An intriguing and challenging attraction for me was at St. Xavier I had worked with all young men, at Mother of Mercy I had worked with all young women and here was an opportunity to work with them both together and to experience that dynamic. McNicholas is the first co-ed school in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, so it has a long history of dealing with co-education and of capitalizing on the benefits of that.

What do You enjoy most about working with Catholic schools?

Leadership in Catholic education has really become my life’s mission. With all respect to public education, I am convinced that the world desperately needs future leaders who are skilled at viewing the world from the standpoint of a Catholic worldview and solving problems with the strong moral framework and religious convictions that a Catholic education gives them. How do we help students learn good strong academic content, give them strong academic skills and train them in the way of looking at the world through those Catholic eyes and as leaders wanting to get engaged with those kinds of problems?

Again, with all due respect to public schools, I think we have a special mission and talent for engaging students in service work and in equipping them with a good background in Catholic social teaching that informs how they engage with social work and in helping them to be reflective. At the very beginning we want to help them feel the satisfaction of helping people, but beyond that we want to train them in thinking about how do we approach and improve systemic injustices in society.

Do you have any plans for the future?

We’re on the cusp of developing a strategic plan. A couple of [its] themes would be building even further on the school’s success in personalizing education, one of the most notable aspects of which is our SAIL program, which is a program that helps students with special learning needs that supports them so that they can thrive in regular classrooms. By the same token, we have our St. Joseph Scholars program, which gives enrichment opportunities for the very gifted students and helps them … connect with each other and connect with gifted and talented opportunities. We’re going be looking for ways to continue to improve personalized education.

There’s also a very strong impetus here with STEAM, which is science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. When we think about, “How do you equip students to take on messy problems in society both technical and having to do with social injustice?” the kinds of experiences we want them to have in working with interdisciplinary problem solving challenges that STEAM programs will give them will hopefully equip them for that.


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