Dr. Don Ridder will become the next president of Norfolk Catholic School on July 1. Ridder has been principal of Holy Name School in Omaha since 2015. He is well known for leading the team to establish St. Patrick’s School in Elkhorn in 2000. Under Ridder’s leadership, St. Patrick’s was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2013.
Ridder, 57, earned a doctorate in education in interdisciplinary leadership from Creighton University in 2014. His other degrees include a superintendent’s certification in educational leadership from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1993 and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1989.
Paul Burbach, who headed the search committee, said that Ridder brings the right mix of skills and experience to lead Norfolk Catholic School.
“Dr. Ridder's proven track record of academic excellence, increased enrollment, and collaborative Catholic culture at his previous schools makes him an excellent fit for Norfolk Catholic. I am very excited and happy to have him join our staff and leadership team as we move forward,” he said.
Ridder has been serving in education for over 32 years. In 2009 he was named Administrator of the Year by the Archdiocese of Omaha.
“I have been truly blessed to serve as a principal in the Omaha Archdiocese at Mary Our Queen, St. Patrick's, and, most recently, Holy Name Catholic School. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the amazing teachers, staff, parents, students, as well as the alumni, community members, donors and CUES at Holy Name,” Ridder said. “I now feel called to a new level of leadership as president of Norfolk Catholic School and look forward to collaborating with Fr. Dan Andrews, the school advisory board, teachers, staff, students and community. My hope and vision is to build on their excellence in all areas of the school with a continued focus on Catholic mission and identity.”
Ridder grew up on a farm west of West Point and graduated from Central Catholic High School. Norfolk Catholic has been patient in finding the right fit for this role. In 2013, a strategic planning process identified the need for Norfolk Catholic to adopt the president/principal model of administration.
The model affords the appropriate personnel resources to both the instructional side of a school (principal) as well as the strategic, business, and development roles (president) necessary to ensure strong school operation and effectiveness.
“The president/principal model of school administration is employed widely and effectively by many parochial and private schools across the United States and here in Nebraska,” said the Rev. Dan Andrews, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Norfolk. “We are elated to have someone as accomplished as Dr. Ridder lead our school team.”