Bishop Verot Catholic High School, building on more than 50 years of tradition and excellence in Catholic education, is a community of faith and learning dedicated to service and centered on Christ. An educational ministry of the Diocese of Venice, Florida, Bishop Verot serves students from southwest Florida as well as international students in a co-educational college preparatory environment. Bishop Verot provides students with opportunities for lifelong learning and leadership, teaching skills for college and values for life.
Bishop Verot High School is a Catholic community of learning for young men and women sponsored by the Diocese of Venice, administered by a dedicated staff of Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and devout lay people, supported by parents and the priests and people of 22 Roman Catholic parishes in the Deanery. The philosophy of Bishop Verot identifies a religious purpose and an academic purpose. Both are interrelated. We believe that the Christian commitment in service to God and neighbor is engendered by fostering the students' understanding of and respect for truth, which is evidenced in the teaching of Jesus Christ as proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church, and by upholding democratic values in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The spirit of our patron, Saint Francis de Sales, in which our apostolate is carried out, is noted especially for the Christian values of charity, gentleness, and respect for the dignity, freedom, and uniqueness of each student, who is created in God’s image and blessed with gifts and talents that are to be nurtured and developed.
Therefore, education is understood by its very nature to be a spiritual activity. The learning, growth, and development that result bring each person closer to reaching their God-given potential as human beings. The essential condition for learning is the purposeful activity, the willingness to work. Learning is not a gift freely given, but an objective that the learner must pursue. The faculty and staff of Bishop Verot, while recognizing the primary role of parents in the total educative process, see as their function one of instructing, motivating, directing and assisting young students through the learning process to reach their fullest Christian human potential within a favorable learning environment.
Schools are for learning. Every program we offer, whether curricular or co-curricular, holds the promise and potential for student growth. Our students are expected to learn useful knowledge and related intellectual skills. Bishop Verot admits students who are able to take advantage of the programs we offer, and who desire to meet their responsibilities as members of the student body within the context of a community of faith. We will cooperate with each student in identifying and developing his/her particular talents and in enabling each student to achieve a full life as a mature Christian and member of the human community.
In fulfilling our educational mission, we are concerned for the spiritual, intellectual, moral, physical, and social development of each student. By these efforts, we attempt to maintain standards of excellence in every school program in preparing students to meet the challenges of living a Christian life in the modern world.
- Bishop Verot High School is a Catholic faith community of learning, consisting of students, teachers, administrators, and staff, as well as parents, alumni, and benefactors, all sharing in the responsibility of advancing the mission of the school.
- The philosophy of Saint Francis de Sales is the basis for the identity of our school, emphasizing for all the daily importance of following Christ by practicing the Gospel virtues of gentleness, kindness, humility, and patience.
- Each person is created in God’s image, and therefore an atmosphere of mutual respect between students, faculty, and staff is vital to school life and the learning process.
- The faculty, staff, and administration of Bishop Verot strive to continue the tradition of academic excellence that is a hallmark of Catholic education.
- In addition to valuing academic achievement and co-curricular success, a fundamental priority of Bishop Verot is to challenge students to develop character and leadership skills and promote personal and spiritual growth.
- Students are most effectively challenged to reach their potential when the spiritual, social, emotional, and academic needs of each individual are recognized as unique.
- The Catholic mission and identity of Bishop Verot is cherished and valued while at the same time is respecting of the cultural and religious diversity within our community.
- A welcoming, safe, and comfortable school environment promotes student learning.
- The ultimate goal of an education at Bishop Verot is for students to be committed to lifelong growth and learning, inspired by faith to give of themselves for the betterment of others.
History of Bishop Augustin Verot Mosaic
Bishop Augustin Verot was a courageous and bold leader who took controversial stances on numerous political and religious issues. His fearlessness is depicted by a hand pointing toward heaven, raised in strength to shepherd the Church of Florida through the trials of war, slavery and reconstruction.
Verot was the Bishop of Savannah during the Civil War and named the first Bishop of Florida in 1870. The eastern United States, aflame with conflict and division, is visible within Verot’s vestments.
A telescope represents Bishop Verot’s controversial advocacy for astronomer and inventor Galileo Galilei (d. 1642) at the First Vatican Council (1868-1870). Condemned by the Church 250 years earlier for teaching that the earth revolved around the sun and not vice versa, Galileo’s teachings were by Verot’s lifetime proven to be accurate. Nevertheless, the Council Fathers opposed the so-called “rebel” bishop, not wanting to draw attention to an issue that was by this time a major embarrassment for the Church. Galileo would not be pardoned officially until 1992.
The bishop’s different colored shoes represent a number of different issues that forced him to walk a political and religious tightrope as a shepherd for conflicting causes, often taking controversial positions. Before the Civil War, he defended the institution of slavery even as he advocated the humane treatment of slaves. And during the war, he advocated the southern cause and denounced the savage Federal attacks on southern cities and homes, but was the only southern religious leader of any denomination to care for the spiritual and physical needs of the 30,000 Union prisoners incarcerated at Andersonville, Georgia.
The chain and shackle illustrate Bishop Verot’s struggle with the most divisive political issues of his day – slavery. His teachings reflect an acceptance and at time, defense of the institution of slavery before the Civil War. But this is tempered by a concern for the safety and well-being of African Americans, both as slaves and later as free men and women after their emancipation. During and after the war, Verot defied laws and established schools for black children. And his cathedral congregation in St. Augustine was among the first in the south to be integrated; blacks worshiping next to whites in a progressive display of toleration and inclusiveness a century before the civil rights movements.
Verot is depicted wearing the traditional mitar, worn on a bishop’s head during liturgical celebrations. The cross on the mitar is both green and orange, colors that symbolize the Catholic and Protestant branches of the Christian faith. A hundred years before the ecumenical movement opened dialogue between the separated churches Verot called for reconciliation with Protestants at the First Vatican Council in 1809, in an era when religious mistrust and prejudice were strong on both sides. In part because of his ecumenical concerns, Verot labored in vain to block the teaching of papal infallibility defined by the council.
The French flag visible to the left of Verot’s hand depicts his heritage. Born in 1805 in Le Puy, France, the newly ordained, 25 year old priest arrived in Baltimore, Maryland in 1830. Invited to teach in the only American seminary there, he held his teaching post for 28 years.
Verot’s crozier, or shepherd’s staff, grows from the mangroves typically found along Florida’s coastlines. With reluctance the 53 year old priest accepted reassignment in 1858 to look after the spiritual needs of Catholics in the state of Florida. At the time of Verot’s arrival, only three priests resided in the state. To a land still largely untamed, Verot recruited priests and nuns from his native France to establish new parishes and schools. From 19861 to 1870, Verot continued to look after Florida’s needs as the Bishop of Savannah, Georgia, a diocese that included Florida. In 1870, the Diocese of Saint Augustine was formed, and Verot was named the first Bishop of Florida, a post at which he remained until his death in 1876.
The School Board consists of parents and community leaders dedicated to advising the Principal on matters pertaining to school policy and planning for the continued growth and success of Bishop Verot Catholic High School. Articles II and III of the Constitution and By-Laws of the School Board, detailing the purpose and duties of the Board, appear below. Currently, there are eleven members of the Board that meet once a month for two hours. In addition, members serve on committees that support and advise the Principal and school administrators on matters such as finance, facilities, admissions, development, staff relations, curriculum, and other areas of concern.
The Bishop Verot School Board is advisory in nature, playing a vital role in school affairs by contributing valuable experience and expertise. Board members work to create and update a five-year strategic plan for Bishop Verot, assist in creating and approving the annual budget and tuition structure, participate in completing a comprehensive site plan for school facilities improvements, evaluated student admissions and retention strategies, and recognize teachers and staff members for excellence. School Board planning efforts complement the daily work of the faculty and staff by lending experience in matters such as accounting, law, local civic affairs, marketing, fundraising, construction, public relations, planning, and other skills and competencies that assist the entire school community.
Board members are not involved in the day-to-day work of running Bishop Verot High School beyond their contributions to school policy and strategic planning. Specific concerns or questions regarding teachers and coaches, course or graduation requirements, admissions decisions, school calendar and schedules, disciplinary matters, and other day-to-day realities should be directed toward the appropriate school administrator and not to Board members.
EXCERPTS FROM THE CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
Article II: Purpose
The School Board, whose authority is derived from the Bishop of the Diocese of Venice, is called into being by the local school Principal and given its mission to provide quality Catholic education for all students whose parents desire to take advantage of such an opportunity.
Article III: Duties
The School Board serves as an advisory council to the Principal. Its specific areas of responsibility include:
- Making specific policy proposals to the Administration.
- Reacting to policy proposals initiated by the Administration.
- Assisting in finances (budget, salary scale, tuition).
- Recruiting students.
- Planning and implementing public relations programs.
- Demonstrating support for the educational program and policies of the diocese and the school.
- Reflecting major concerns of parents.
- Reporting valid concerns/procedures/proposals of the Board to parents.
- Call for an evaluation by qualified persons concerning the extent and effectiveness of policy.
Areas of responsibility beyond the role of the School Board include:
- Hiring and terminating school personnel.
- Final curriculum design and development.
- Evaluation and supervision of teachers.
- Final policy decisions.
Meet the School Board
The Bishop Verot School Board is comprised of current and past parents, alumni, and community leaders brining years of person, professional, and educational experience to this advisory board. The School Board works with adminstration, specifically the Principal, in an advisory role on matters pertaining to school policy and planning for the continured growth and success of Bishop Verot. In addition to the School Board responsibilities, some of the members also serve on area-specific committeees including the Finance Committee, Academic Affairs Committee, Development Committee and the Marketing Committee.
John Clinger is in his third year as School Board member at Bishop Verot. He moved to Ft. Myers in 1991 and married into the Verot family. His wife Rusti '89, her brother, sisters, niece and nephews are Verot alumni. John's mother-in-law, Lee, also was a member of the Verot family as a valued school employee for many years. John is a Senior Vice President - Wealth Management Advisor with Merill Lynch. He and his team work with wealthy families to define and implement strategies to meet their individual financial goals. He also serves as the Resident Director of the Ft. Myers Branch for Merrill Lynch. John and Rusti have four daughters, Katie '09, Emma-Lee'10, Madison '18, and Abigail '19.
Jeff Brown '80 is serving as a third year Bishop Verot School Board Member. Jeff has been a local banker for nearly 30 years focusing on residential mortgages. He is currently employed with Synovus Mortgage and has helped many families achieve their goal of home ownership. Jeff graduated from University of South Florida with a degree in Marketing. Jeff and his wife, Karen, have two children, Lauren and Steve '14.
Fr. Stan Dombrowski is in his third year serving on the Bishop Verot School Board. Fr. Stan, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, arrived at St. Cecilia Parish in July 1998, where he served as a Parochial Vicar until July 2001, when he was made Pastor. Fr. Stan has been involved in many ministries: teacher, hospital chaplain, chaplain in the United States Navy (served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm) as well as parish ministry. Athough born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Fr. Stan considers Ft. Myers his home.
Andrew Engelbrecht '94, is in his second year serving on the Bishop verot School Board. A Fort Myers native, having attended both St. Francis and Bishop Verot, he earned a bachelors in business from the University of Florida and a masters from Penn State in turf management. Andy is an agronomic sales manager for SiteOne Landscape Supply, working mostly with golf course superintendents. With over 25 years in the golf industry, Andy is a Class "A" member of both the PGA and GCSAA. He and his wife Betsy have four children, Rachel '14, Kristen '18, and future Vikings Jake, and Ryan.
Anthony Gargano, PA is serving his sixth year as a member of the School Board. For nearly three decades, Tony Gargano has assisted many of Southwest Florida's most successful real estate leaders, developers, brokers, and investors as a real estate attorney and trusted advisor. Tony earned his BA in English from the University of Florida, graduating with high honors and Phi Beta Kappa; and earned his Juris Doctorate from the prestigious Notre Dame Law School. He and his wife Jessie have eight children, of which five have attended or are attending BVHS; Megan '04, Anthony '06, Monica '08, John '13,Thomas '15, Jimmy '18, Vinny '20, and Nick '22.
Hon. Zachary M. Gill '98, is serving in his first year on the Bishop Verot School Board. He was born and raised in Ft. Myers, attending St. Francis Xavier and Bishop Verot. Judge Gill is a graduate of Florida State University and attained his law degree from Barry University School of Law. Upon graduation, Judge Gill served as an Assistant State Attorney in the Ninth and Twentieth Judicial Circuits. Thereafter, he joined the law firm of Goldstein, Buckley, Cechman, Rice, and Purtz P.A., where he primarily handled civil litigation matters until Governor Rick Scott appointed him to the Lee County Bench in June of 2016. Judge Gill and his wife have two young sons, who, in time, will be third generation Vikings.
Paula Hellenbrand, is serving in her first year on the Bishop Verot School Board. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and holds a BS in Human Resource Management. Paula spent 12 years with the Parker Pen Company, a Gillette Subsidiary, in Human Resources and later in Distribution Management. Paula and her family moved to Florida in 1999 and together with her husband, Rick, they own Encore! Realty Services, a boutique real estate company. Paula and Rick have three children, Nicholas 25, Nathan 23, and Christiana 15, Class of 2020.
Constantine Mantz, MD is serving in his sixth year as a member of the School Board. Constantine graduated from the University Of Chicago School Of Medicine in 1995, completed a residency in radiation oncology in 2000, and currently is Chief Medical Officer for 21st Century Oncology. Constantine and his wife, Christina, have three boys, Alex ’15, Nicholas ’18, and Andreas ’21.
Jack Martin is in his second year as school board member at Bishop Verot High School. Jack is a Realtor with Century 21 Selling Paradise and has been marketing and selling both commercial and residential Real Estate for over 25 years. Jack is a product of Catholic education and graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, NY. Jack and his wife Debbie have one son, John ’17.
Matt Roepstorff '03 is serving his third year as a Bishop Verot High School Board member. Matt was raised in Ft. Myers and is a graduate of Bishop Verot High School. Matt obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Alabama where he majored in English and was a member of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. He went on to obtain his Juris Doctorate from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, FL where he was on the Executive Board for the Mock Trial team. Matt joined Pavese Law Firm in 2015 and primarily focuses his practice in the areas of business and corporate law, civil litigation, and local government.
Brad Shipley '99 is serving as a third year Bishop Verot School Board member. Brad was born and raised in Ft. Myers, attending St. Francis Xavier and Bishop Verot. He attended the University of Richmond '03, and is a Certified Public Accountant and Shareholder in the firm of Wiltshire, Whitley, Richardson & English. Brad is also a member of the board of directors of Classic Basketball, Inc., the organizers of the City of Palms Classic, a member of the Florida Institute of the Certified Public Accountants (FICPA) Management of Accounting Practice committee, a member of the leadership of Bonita Springs Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2015-2016, and an associate member of the Gulf Citrus Growers Association and the Commercial Investment Professional of SWFL. Brad and his wife Melissa have two daughters, Madison and Peyton, future Vikings.
Marc Taglieri is serving in his second year on the Bishop Verot School Board. He attended the University of Virginia ‘95 and holds a BS in Education and Master Degrees in Teaching and Educational Leadership. Marc spent 20 years as an Educational Leader at public and private schools in New Jersey and Florida. Currently, Marc is a Sales Consultant and Sales Trainer with Pulte Homes in Fort Myers. Marc and his wife Christine, relocated to Fort Myers in 2011 with their two children, Marc Jr., ‘20 and future VIking Juliana ‘21.
Caprice Boyd Woodburn is serving her second year as a Bishop Verot School Board Member. Caprice graduated from the University of South Florida and has worked in the education field for over twenty-five years. After 15 years teaching in Lee County classrooms, she joined Florida Virtual School in 2004, and is currently the Senior Manager of Florida Relations. Caprice and her husband, Rick have three children, Jeff, Jared, and Connor ’15, and one grandson.
2011 SACS ACCREDITATION
Bishop Verot Catholic High School is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), a division of AdvancED. SACS CASI is the accrediting organization for 23,000 private schools and districts in 30 states, the Navajo Nation, Latin America, and the Department of Defense Schools worldwide. Reaffirmation of accreditation for private schools is on a five-year schedule. To earn and maintain accreditation from SACS CASI, schools must:
- Meet the AdvancED Standards and Policies for Quality Schools. Schools demonstrate adherence to the AdancED standards and policies which describe the quality practices and conditions that research and best practice indicate are necessary for schools to achieve quality student performance and organizational effectiveness.
- Engage in continuous improvement. Schools implement a continuous improvement process that articulates the vision and purpose the school is pursuing (vision); maintains a rich and current description of students, their performance, school effectiveness, and the school community (profile); employs goals and interventions to improve student performance (plan); and documents the uses and results to inform what happens next (results).
- Demonstrates quality assurance through internal and external review. Schools engage in a planned process of ongoing internal review and self-assessment. In addition, schools host an external Quality Assurance Review Team once every five years. The team evaluates the school’s adherence to the AdvancED quality standards, assesses the efficacy of the school’s improvement process and methods for quality assurance, and provides commendations and required actions to help the school improve. The team provides an oral exit report to the school and a written report detailing the team’s required actions. The school acts on the team’s required action and submits a progress report following the review.
The reaffirmation process at Bishop Verot Catholic High School was an extensive one that required broad-based participation from all stakeholders across the campus community. Bishop Verot SACS teams made up of faculty, staff, parents, and students engaged in an in-depth self assessment of each of the seven AdvancED standards beginning in the spring of 2010 and continued through the spring of 2011 with the final presentation to the SACS CASI Quality Assurance Review.
On March 28 - 29 2011, the SACS CASI Quality Assurance Review Team, made up of educational experts from across the state of Florida, visited Bishop Verot for their final review and to make recommendations based on their findings from their onsite visit.
At the conclusion of this review by the Quality Assurance Review Team, Bishop Verot received full accreditation with rating of “Highly Effective” (the highest rating possible) in four of the seven standards. These areas include: 1.) Vision and Purpose, 2.) Governance and Leadership, 3.) Resources and Support Systems, and 4.) Stakeholder Communications and Relationships. These ratings mean that Bishop Verot is an exceptional school that exhibits practices not commonly found in other schools. Only a small percentage of schools achieve standard ratings at this level.
The Quality Assurance Review Team commends the school for the following strengths and accomplishments. While additional strengths are noted in the detailed review of each standard that appears in the final report, the commendations listed below are the strengths that the team believes are most deserving of being highlighted:
- The exceptional support from parents, alumni, and community provided for BVHS allows for a myriad of successful programs, activities, and student learning opportunities.
As evidenced through interviews with various stakeholder groups, each member takes exceptional pride in BVHS’s accomplishments and successes. The School Board, which serves in an advisory capacity, has thirteen members who are parents, alumni, and community members. The liaison with non-profit organizations provide the opportunity for students to participate in several community service projects. The representation of many segments of the school’s stakeholders allows for not only diversification but also a unified voice and purpose in ensuring Bishop Verot High School succeeds.
- Multiple formal communication channels enhance awareness of the school’s effectiveness with all stakeholders.
The school website is outstanding in providing valuable information, as well as user-friendly links to such menus as the weekly e-blast for parents; Facebook community for stakeholders, including alumni; student BVHS domain gmail accounts; and the admission portal which allows parents to register for school events, complete an online admissions application, and pay admissions fees over a secure site with a major credit card. Bishop Verot Catholic High School fosters collaboration with community stakeholders to support student learning through a variety of methods, including various stakeholder group committees, the alumni, local parish priests, and a strong volunteer program.
- All stakeholders share a strong commitment to student learning and achievement.
Team interview and observations revealed that student performance on standardized tests are consistently higher than local, state, and national averages and there is a high degree of parental involvement through volunteer opportunities and the use of an Advisory School Board. The guidance department provides students with valuable support in the college selection and application process and teachers embed higher order thinking skills in lesson plans. Stakeholders involvement and commitment is an integral component of a successful school. Expectations for high performance are held for all stakeholders.
- The essence of Bishop Verot Catholic High School’s mission statement permeates the actions, attitudes, and speech of all its stakeholders.
An emphasis on service to the community is found in encouraging seniors to act as leaders for school sponsored retreats as well as participation of students on mission trips. The physical facility reflects the importance of the Salesian beliefs with quotes posted throughout which inspire and remind stakeholders of a world beyond the classroom. Test data reflect the high expectations for student achievement.
A school and stakeholders that are deeply immersed in the vision and mission of the school ensure a focus that has a positive impact on success.
Bishop Verot Catholic High School is blessed to have a nurturing leadership team and staff that exemplify profound Catholic values in the Salesian tradition.
A group of teachers and staff initiated an organization called SALT (Salesian Leadership Team), to ensure a smooth transition as the Oblate order recently withdrew from the school community. With the help of this group and BVHS staff, the mission and collective values remain intact where all work together to build a community of faith and learning.
The rich tradition of providing a learning community that exemplifies the rich tradition of values makes Bishop Verot Catholic High School a very supportive and enriching environment.
Recommendations for Improvement:
In addition to the commendations, the Quality Assurance Review Team identified the following required actions for improvement. The team focused its required actions on those areas that, if addressed, will have the greatest impact on improving student performance and overall school effectiveness. The school will be held accountable for addressing each of the required actions noted in this section. The school will be asked to submit a progress report on the required action.
- Develop and implement a multi-year comprehensive plan addressing needs of the school based on relevant data and rationale, research, and best practices to include:
- Improvement Goals
- Needed Resources
- Focused professional development addressing improvement initiatives
- Implement a systematic approach towards gathering, analyzing, and using data, including faculty and staff training on how to effectively base curricular, instructional, and operational decisions on data trends. .