Meet the new leaders of Catholic schools in the diocese

Categories: Around the Diocese

August 30, 2013, edition
By Sue Schulzetenberg-Gully

The St. Cloud Diocese welcomes new school leaders to Morris, St. Cloud, St. Joseph and Waite Park this fall.

Leslie Honebrink is the new principal at St. Mary School in Morris.

Chris Schellinger is the new president at All Saints Academy, which has campuses in St. Cloud, St. Joseph and Waite Park.

Amanda Gjerde is the new administrator at All Saints Academy in Waite Park, and Marissa Bristow is the new administrator at All Saints Academy in St. Cloud.

Read on to to learn more about them and their thinking.

How is education changing? Where do you think it’s headed?

Bristow: “We’re moving away from ‘one church, one school’ to more of a paradigm where many churches support one school. I read several articles saying that we need to change the paradigm for Catholic schools in order to make them sustainable. The diversity of gifts we receive from the parents of different parishes is just wonderful.”

Gjerde: “One of the biggest changes over the past few years has been the impact of social media and technology advances. As educators, we need to find the best ways to incorporate technology into our core curriculum and use social media to our best advantage.”

Honebrink: “Education is changing especially in the area of technology. Teachers are able to access teaching tools from a variety of websites and apps. I feel there is a concentration in the areas of math and science. We are learning more about how the brain functions and that gives us a better understanding of how we learn and how we manage behaviors. There seems to be a correlating push to teach students to think and problem solve (robotics and inventions).”

Schellinger: “The world is moving faster all the time. The amount of information and rate of change is enormous and intimidating. For this reason alone I believe we should be working to ensure that our students learn how to learn. It is with this skill they will be most able to navigate their future.”

What do you think every student should know before junior high?

Bristow: “It’s important for them to know how to read and to know math skills, but extra curriculars are also important. We’re becoming more of a global world, so a second language is important. Physical exercise and technology are also important.”

Gjerde: “There are so many important things that our students need to know before they enter junior high! First and foremost, they should have an understanding of basic skills: reading, math, science and writing. They also need an understanding of social skills and how to incorporate our faith into our daily living.”

Honebrink: “They should enjoy reading, know math skills and have the ability to write. Other skills to acquire would be: being organized, being respectful, having a good work ethic, being involved and enjoy a sport/activity and dressing appropriately.”

Schellinger: “Confidence in themselves. To know they can do and handle what comes at them. Confidence in the kind of person they want to be, in the decisions they will be faced with, in their idea of what a healthy relationship is and to be themselves.”

What book should every child read in elementary school?

Bristow: “My favorite book when I was growing up was the ‘Velveteen Rabbit.’ [It emphasizes] the belief that you have power to do something.”

Gjerde: “A few of my favorites are “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White, “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo and “The Teacher’s Funeral” by Richard Peck.

Honebrink: “The Giving Tree” and “Charlotte’s Web.”

Schellinger: “The answer is different for each child. The book they should read is the book, or series of books, that will get them ‘hooked’ on reading. It is such a critical life skill and habit that will contribute significantly to their future. And our teachers are so very good at finding that right book that will do that for each child.”


principalbristowMarissa Bristow

Administrator at All Saints Academy, St. Cloud campus

Hometown: Wausau, Wis.

Work history: Administrative assistant at SS. Peter, Paul and Michael School in St. Cloud; recruiter for the city of Tulsa, Okla.

Family: Husband Dennis; daughters Leigh and Marlo

Hobbies: Cooking, working out, traveling


Amanda Gjerde

Administrator at All Saints Academy, Waite Park campus

Educational philosophy: Every student has unique abilities that can be fostered through an environ


ment that is secure, faithbased, caring and nurturing. When students are placed in this environment they will grow intellectually, spiritually, socially, physically and emotionally.

Hometown: Hillman, Minn.

Work history: Fifth grade teacher at Becker Intermediate School for 12 years

Family: Husband Troy

Hobbies: Reading, camping, playing board games, watching movies




honebrinkLeslie Honebrink

Principal at St. Mary School in Morris

Educational philosophy: I feel that every child that enters an educational institution has the right to receive a non-discriminative, creative, stimulating and challenging education, so that the child may achieve his/her highest potential. I feel integrating Catholic Christianity in all aspects of a child’s academic and social environment helps the child to have a better understanding of himself, each other, the world and God’s love.

Hometown: Baudette, Minn.

Work history: Principal at St. Joseph School in Moorhead, Minn., principal at St. Francis School in Benson, Minn., teacher in special education in the areas of behaviors and autism at public schools

Family: Children Sam, Molly (Mark), Ben (Erin) and Elizabeth. Four grandchildren, Alexandra, Allison, Andrew and Adlai

Hobbies: Reading




Chris Schellinger

President of All Saints Academy


Educational philosophy: Educate the whole child (person) through balance and breadth of education. By providing our children with a foundation of many experiences we prepare them best for their future. Certainly this means a commitment to core areas such as religion, math, language arts and others. But we must also strive to provide meaningful instruction in music, art, foreign languages, physical education, technology and other areas. With this they are uniquely prepared to greet and experience the world. By doing this we give them the gift of being most able to realize their potential.

Hometown: Born in St. Cloud and lived near Avon since 5 years old

Work history: Vice president of business development at Bliss Direct Media in St. Joseph

Family: Wife Cathy; daughters Jordan and Leah

Hobbies: Vegetable gardening, spending time in the woods, making maple syrup