St. Peter Catholic names new principal, moves forward with renovations

August 16, 2022

This rendering shows plans for a new Catholic high school in the Archdiocese. Preparations to launch St. Peter Catholic — A Career and Technical High School are underway. Marc Martinez was hired Aug. 1 as the school’s principal. The new school will be located off Old Spanish Trail near SH 288 in Houston’s Riverside Terrace community. (Rendering courtesy of the Catholic Schools Office)

HOUSTON — The future opening of St. Peter Catholic — A Career and Technical High School has just gotten a big boost. Dr. Marc Martinez was hired Aug. 1 as its principal, and he brings with him a wealth of experience in Catholic education to lead this school to an exciting future.

The move is a significant one for the old parochial school building, which now sits empty at 6220 La Salette St. in Houston. The Board of Trustees’s plan to renovate the old elementary school into a state-of-the-art facility includes upgrading classrooms with new technology, equipment and furniture appropriate for a secondary campus. In addition, plans include adding a new elevator, changing the building’s façade, and creating an outdoor, covered classroom for differentiated, project-based instruction. Actual renovations are on track to start in late fall or early spring.

Once completed, the career and technical high school for students in grades 9 to 12 would be the first Catholic school of its kind in Texas. The four programs of study chosen were based on current and projected job growth in Texas, and the programs’ pathways will hone students’ skills in leadership, collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking, thus preparing them for employment within multiple industries.

“If there is a student who has a desire to enter into technology, marketing, education, or building and construction, then St. Peter Catholic is what you want to look at to prepare them for a position in the job market right out of high school,” Martinez said.

“This gives our students an opportunity to explore a different avenues and paths, other than the traditional preparatory college route,” he added.

With Martinez’s hire, the technical school is a step closer to becoming a reality for the Archdiocese. Martinez’s exemplary background in Catholic education — he attended, taught, administered, and was a parent in Catholic schools — prepared him well to open and operate it for years to come.

“The school was looking for a Catholic educator whose dynamic, collaborative, and inspiring leadership could promote the mission and values of the school and ensure that St. Peter continues to develop student leaders through educational excellence, a passion for justice, and personal attention to each student’s personal development,” Haney said.

“With Martinez’s extensive experience in Catholic education administration at all levels, as well as his strengths in building community and business relationships, developing curriculum and facilitating accreditation processes, he brought a unique set of gifts that make him especially qualified for the position,” she added.

“I prayed about if this would be a good ministry for me to be involved in beyond the advisory committee,” Martinez said. “I threw my name in the hat and thought, ‘Let’s see where God is going to take me with this.’”

He also knows there are many students who can benefit from this kind of curriculum. The goal is to enroll 50 freshmen for the 2023-24 school year, then add another 50 students each year so that by the fourth year, there should be a total enrollment of 200 students, including sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Another goal is to hire teachers that utilize project-based learning (a student-centric pedagogy) to teach the core subjects of theology, math, science, history, and English as well as one of the different job skill pathways being offered: architecture/construction, business/finance/marketing, education/training, and information technology support.

Church leadership, St. Peter Catholic Board of Trustees, community partners, and anyone else willing to donate has helped the financial gauge move closer to its mark. To date, fundraising efforts have raised $6.7 million toward the project, according to Secretariat Director and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Debra Haney.

Meanwhile, the school needs to continue to fundraise so renovation costs are covered and the operating budget is supported for the first few years’ worth of operations, said Haney.

“We are excited to see this dream become a reality and will be thrilled to meet the 50 lucky students that will be in the founding class of St. Peter Catholic High School!” she added.