NCEA president visits three local schools, praises commitment, spirit

This article is a re-posting of NCEA president visits three local schools, praises commitment, spirit published by Cross Roads the bi-weekly publication of the Diocese of Lexington, KY.

In every classroom he visited, Dr. Tom Burnford, NCEA president and CEO, engaged the students in lively discussion. CR photo: Skip Olson

In every classroom he visited, Dr. Tom Burnford, NCEA president and CEO, engaged the students in lively discussion. CR photo: Skip Olson

National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) president and chief executive officer Thomas W. Burnford visited three parish schools in the diocese August 31, along with interim superintendent of schools George Pressey and assistant superintendent Jeremy Hughes.

They visited St. Leo School, Versailles, St. Mary School, Paris, and Seton Catholic School, Lexington. “It was tremendous to visit each school and witness the commitment of principals and teachers and see the joyful spirit of learning among the students,” Burnford said.

Burnford had served as interim president of the NCEA since December, 2015. He was formally appointed as head August 8, 2016. The purpose of his trip to the diocese, he said, was “seeing schools first-hand.”

His mission, and that of the NCEA, is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) is a professional membership organization that assists its members to fulfill their teaching mission of the Church and to lead, learn and proclaim the good news of Catholic school education.

He said that it was “great” to see Versailles pastor Father Daniel Schwendeman “welcoming and greeting each student and parent into the school first thing in the morning.”

He also praised St. Mary School as “so deeply integrated into the life of the community and so clearly proclaiming the love of Jesus.”

Left to right, Diocese of Lexington interim superintendent of schools George Pressey, assistant superintendent Jeremy Hughes, NCEA president and CEO Dr. Tom Burnford, and Seton principal Gene Cahill in front of Seton Catholic School in Lexington during Burnford’s tour of diocesan schools. CR photo: Skip Olson

Left to right, Diocese of Lexington interim superintendent of schools George Pressey, assistant superintendent Jeremy Hughes, NCEA president and CEO Dr. Tom Burnford, and Seton principal Gene Cahill in front of Seton Catholic School in Lexington during Burnford’s tour of diocesan schools. CR photo: Skip Olson

Prior to his post with the NCEA, Burnford served for two decades with the Archdiocese of Washington, DC, as secretary for education, managing the superintendent of Catholic schools, the director of catechesis, and a staff of 22. He oversaw a system of 94 Catholic schools and 139 parish religious education programs, serving over 50,000 students and 30,000 adults.

A native of Sussex, England, and the youngest of seven children, raised in a Catholic family, Burnford migrated to the U.S. for a “gap year” following high school graduation. He earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy and classical languages from Catholic University of American, in Washington, DC, a master of divinity from the

Dominican House of Studies, also in the district, and a doctorate of ministry, again from Catholic University of America.