Sister Carol Shively, OSU: “…she can really inspire educators to reach for the stars.”

Christine Rivers, Chancellor of the Diocese of Shreveport, is Sister Carol’s supervisor. She says, “Sister Carol possesses the quality of being able to work in collaboration with diverse groups of people. She is committed to the growth and viability of Catholic schools in our diocese. We are blessed by her presence in north Louisiana.”

Christine Rivers, Chancellor of the Diocese of Shreveport and Sister Carol's supervisor, says, "We are blessed by her presence in north Louisiana."

School board president VanNatta, who praised Sister Carol for her efforts during the Katrina hurricane crisis, says she was the right person at the right time when she arrived in Shreveport to take over as superintendent. “When Sister Carol arrived in Shreveport, she found a system of five elementary/middle schools and one high school,” he explains. “System was only due to the fact we all belonged to the diocese. There was no contact between schools, no true systematic view of curriculum, no common accounting and reporting to the diocese, nothing. Immediately upon her arrival, that all changed. Since she began her tenure as superintendent of schools, the dialogue among schools has been opened up, curriculum has been standardized, and common reporting policies have been installed.”

He continued, “To say that I admire the job she has done in Shreveport is an understatement. I am very confident that without her guidance, there would be two fewer schools today and the remaining elementary school would not be very stable. She has brought a sense of community to all the schools, opened the lines of communication, and set standards for accountability and curriculum. I am truly blessed to have had the opportunity to work with her since she arrived in Shreveport.”

Cathedral of Saint John Berchmans School principal Jo Cazes says of her superintendent, “The Diocese of Shreveport is a mission diocese located in the Bible Belt South where Catholics number about five percent of the population and about one person in four lives in poverty. These characteristics bring unique challenges to Sister Carol’s position, challenges that she meets with wisdom, skill and vision. Her efforts on behalf of Catholic schools have enhanced Catholic identity, strengthened curriculum and ensured school staff formation. Sister Carol possesses the quality of being able to work in collaboration with diverse groups of people. She is committed to the growth and viability of Catholic schools in our diocese. We are blessed by her presence in north Louisiana.” 

Sister Carol addresses employees at an Employee Appreciation Luncheon at the Catholic Center.

What are her biggest challenges? “One of the biggest is the fact that we work in a mission diocese that doesn’t always have homegrown men as priests,” says Sister Carol. “We have a number of international priests here. The most challenging part has been wedding them to their Catholic schools, because our Catholic schools can become very much orphaned and that has been my whole context the last eight years, to shepherd them into embracing that school, embracing those children. You say this over and over and over.”

As a Catholic school administrator in the heart of the southern Bible belt, the cost of education is an ongoing challenge. “We’re tuition-based schools, not church-subsidized schools,” she explains. “Therefore we’re constantly working with our school and finance councils to try to keep the costs as low as possible, and at the same time to provide the services that are expected. We’re sitting right here around Barksdale Air Force Base where parents are coming in from all over the world. Their children have experiences and they want to put them in our schools and yet we try to give them the world on a shoestring…and that’s basically what we’re doing right now.”

Sister Carol says serving the poor is another major challenge. “I believe as Ursulines we have an absolute obligation to serve the poor,” she says. “But the poor can’t be served if we hold the (same) standard for those who receive the services as we do the family that makes $200,000 a year. You keep your school open if you have big bank accounts, you keep your school open if you don’t have any money. Someday, the Catholic Church has to step in and take care of that problem. Because we are going to be judged the most harshly for not serving the poor.”

The most disappointing? Says Sister Carol, “Not being able to open schools in areas that I know need new schools, particularly in Bossier Parish. We don’t have a school over there, yet it’s the fastest growing parish (county) in the state. People are willing to just keep the status quo when I know what Catholic schools can do to help those families bring their children up as Catholics. We’re not always where our people are now. Fifty years ago we were, but we have not kept up with society.”

What has Sister Carol found most satisfying in her nine years as superintendent? She says, “When I arrived there was no protocol, there were no procedures in place whatsoever, and I had a group of principals who really had a lack of confidence in the central office. What I brought to the office was stability and a real spirit of serving them; I only exist to serve them. I think I have spoken that though my work and my examples this entire time.”

She continues, “The more rewarding part of it is that I really do know that I am able to serve them and to offer assistance in areas in all kinds of ways. And when you have a team that you can really trust, you can do almost anything, and that’s what I have here!”