The ‘Technology Superintendent’

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Deacon Kevin McCormack, the newly-named superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Brooklyn, has spent nearly 40 years guiding students at Xaverian, first as a teacher and then as principal for the past 15 years.

Among his proudest achievements was keeping Xaverian at the forefront of modern technology. In 2011, Xaverian was one of the first schools in the country to bring iPads into the classroom.

Deacon Kevin McCormack has nearly 40 years of experience in Catholic education. (Photo: Diocese of Brooklyn)

When the pandemic struck, Xaverian was prepared from the start to help students learn remotely without missing a beat.

Deacon McCormack has always been a huge proponent of using technology in schools.

“The thing about technology is that it is never an end in itself,” he explained. “The question is not so much why we want to use technology, I think the better question is what is the best way for our kids to learn from it.”

Introducing the iPad to the students at Xaverian allowed a generation of kids brought up with iPhones and computers to learn in ways they were comfortable with. He saw all the resources this type of technology could open up for the students, adding, “you literally have the world at your fingers if you use it right.”

Deacon McCormack believes that the true value is in using technology in a way that is not distracting, but rather for what it does best, and to realize that it serves us and not the other way around.

He highlighted some of the successful ways technology has been implemented at Xaverian, such as female students working on cultural exchange projects with other female students in India via Zoom, teachers having the ability to pull up information in less than 30 seconds, and allowing kids the ability to work digitally and remotely on their iPads in a faster and more efficient fashion.

“There’s nothing magic about it,” Deacon McCormack said. “In our case, we always ask: ‘What is going to be best for the students?’ It’s all about what works best for their ability to learn.”

He said that when Xaverian first began promoting the use of technology in the classroom, people would dismiss what they were doing, calling it a passing fad, gimmick, or distraction. Despite the negative response, Deacon McCormack was convinced this new technology would help kids navigate their way through college and ultimately the workplace.

“We need to teach them about it now; how to use the Internet, how to use messaging and social media, and how to use it to better a situation and not make it worse,” Deacon McCormack said. “It may not work all the time, but more times than not it has been very successful.”

He views technology as a tool to help students encounter the world they are going to inherit, using the example of how most people pay their bills today electronically and not by check. He says these are the skill sets students need to keep current in the classroom and the workplace.

“My point of view is that there are people who love to hold onto things because they’re old,” Deacon McCormack explained. “We’re Catholic, so we understand the importance of tradition and we see the foundation of the tradition, but we are not museum curators. … Our job is to have our roots firmly planted in the tradition … but also striving and reaching for the opportunities this new era allows us.”

As far as implementing the successes he has achieved at Xaverian throughout all the schools in the diocese, Deacon McCormack wants to take a more wait and see, and watch and learn approach.

“I don’t come in with guns blazing,” he said, “I come in with humility and a sincere desire to learn all the great things that have been done that I have been aware of. But my perch in the high school was limited. Now I get to see it from Bay Ridge to Rosedale, from Douglaston to Far Rockaway, and everything in between.

“What I do know is that when we use technology right, it works.”