St. Agnes taps new head of school as Dominican high schools embrace transition in sponsorship

November 14, 2023

St. Agnes Academy hosted a ceremony on Oct. 2 to mark the transition of sponsorship from the Dominican Sisters of Houston - Congregation of the Sacred Heart to Dominican Veritas Ministries Inc. (Photo courtesy of St. Agnes Academy)

HOUSTON — St. Agnes Academy has hired Dr. Karen Jakuback as its next head of school, beginning with the 2024-25 academic year.

The appointment of Jakuback was unanimously approved by a search committee, the St. Agnes Academy board of directors and the board of trustees of Dominican Veritas Ministries Inc. (DVM).
Jakuback has dedicated most of her career to Catholic education — which spans 27 years — and is currently the president of Ursuline Academy of New Orleans.

Chair of the Board of Directors Tammy Ahlgren said, “I truly believe Dr. Jakuback is the perfect fit for the St. Agnes community, and as a board, we are confident that Dr. Jakuback will be the strong leader St. Agnes expects. We are deeply grateful to our interim head of school, Deborah Whalen, for laying an exceptional foundation for Dr. Jakuback and a smooth transition for the school community.”

Hiring Jakuback is a continuation of a transfer of nine Dominican schools in the nation into a new model of sponsorship. Sept. 1 marked the official activation of DVM as a canonical sponsor and the transfer of schools, including two schools sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Houston, Congregation of the Sacred Heart: St. Agnes Academy and St. Pius X High School.

Speaking at both Houston schools, Sister Donna Pollard, OP, prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Houston, reminded students, teachers and staff of how this moment of transition was consistent with the 800-year history of the Order of Preachers, founded by St. Dominic.

“Dominicans belong to an itinerant order — an order founded on change, growth, evolution, transition and adaptation. St. Dominic founded an order that would respond to the signs of the times and change as the mission and ministry requires.”

Sister Pollard said the transition is a real-life example of how Dominicans are responding to the “signs of the times.”

“Together as Dominicans, we are looking to the future of our schools with the assurance that they will continue as Catholic schools rooted in our Dominican charism, now with a new sponsorship model, Dominican Veritas Ministries,” she said.

In a statement, St. Piux X High School officials said students, staff and board members hosted a Sponsorship Transition Ceremony on Oct. 3. St. Agnes Academy held its own ceremony on Oct. 2. DVM provides support to the Dominican Sisters of Houston schools, including resources and administration. These schools are canonically connected but operate separately.

After a six-year process, representatives from five different Dominican congregations in the U.S., including congregations from Adrian, Houston, Peace, Sinsinawa and Springfield activated the DVM.
DVM Executive Director Kristin Barstow Melley, PhD, said she was enthusiastic for the sisters and the future of their schools.

“DVM is the next chapter and continuation of the inspiring story and witness of these congregations of Dominican Sisters and the schools they founded. We celebrate with gratefulness the establishment of this new community, created to nurture and sustain the vibrant Catholic, Dominican identity alive in these schools.”

The DVM community is grateful for all the hands, hearts and minds that contributed to this achievement. Over the next two months, each school will recognize this historic moment with a special ceremony honoring the incredible legacy of their founding congregations and celebrating their transition into DVM.