By Michael Gresham
The Texas Catholic
WAXAHACHIE — It doesn’t take long for Dianne Brungardt to identify what drew her to St. Joseph Catholic School.
“Oh, it’s definitely the community,” said Brungardt, a 10-year veteran educator who heads into the academic year as the school’s new principal. “The community feel — the closeness of everyone — was very appealing to me. There is a great amount of positivity here. Everyone seems very committed to this school and church as well as to making improvements and taking this school to the next level.”
Brungardt joins the Waxahachie school after serving the past three years as the assistant principal at St. Philip & St. Augustine Catholic Academy. Prior to that, Brungardt taught fourth and fifth grade at Prince of Peace Catholic School in Plano.
Erica Romero, principal of St. Philip & St. Augustine, said St. Joseph is getting “a dedicated Catholic educator” in Brungardt.
“She is forward-thinking, dedicated, compassionate, diligent, ethical and most importantly, faith-filled,” Romero said. “Dianne is one of the hardest working people I know. She will establish goals for improving all areas for growth for the school and will likely do it in spreadsheet form.”
Father Ivan Asencio, pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church, said in choosing Brungardt he felt she presented the qualities needed for both the community and the school.
“She showed great energy and joy. She had this positive attitude and a genuine desire to serve not just the school, but the church as a whole and as a leader of the community,” he said. “That’s what we are looking forward to — this unity.”
Brungardt, who along with her husband Brian is a parishioner at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Wylie, is also a product of Dallas Catholic schools. She attended St. Patrick Catholic School before graduating from Bishop Lynch High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Graceland University in Iowa, her master’s degree from Arkansas State University and her graduate certificate in Catholic School Leadership from Creighton University in Nebraska.
In addition to her passion for Catholic school education, Brungardt will be bringing a few ideas from her past schools to implement at St. Joseph, including a virtue-based restorative discipline program that she first began using at Prince of Peace.
“It is a discipline program, but before that it focuses on building positivity and relationships so that everyone is working together and becoming like a family in the classroom so that when challenges arise they are much easier to address,” Brungardt said. “It really works in bringing people together.”
Conceived by Lynne Lang for the Catholic Education Center in the Archdioceses of St. Louis, the program was originally introduced to address bullying, but is now being used by schools across the nation and across all aspects of education, including extracurricular and athletic programs.
“It’s more than a discipline system because it also helps students restore relationships,” Brungardt said. “It takes it a step further.”
St. Joseph’s enrollment as of Aug. 2 was 125 students, which is a number Brungardt hopes to immediately start bolstering. To do that, she said she’ll turn to the thing that brought her to Waxahachie — the community.
“There’s a lot of great stuff happening here. We just need to get the word out to prospective new students and their families,” she said, adding that the potential is there due to area growth around Waxahachie, which led to a parish expansion in 2017. “We hope to grow with our vibrant church community.”
Brungardt said first the school must strengthen its relationships.
“We want to work on building relationships with the faculty, with the families, with the community — both the parishioners and the community at large,” she said. “We don’t operate in a vacuum so we have to include the parishioners and the community. It takes all of us working together.”
Find more back-to-school coverage in the Aug. 24 print edition of The Texas Catholic.