PALM SPRINGS—St. Theresa School in Palm Springs is reflecting with gratitude on Principal Mike Keno’s six years of leadership as he retires at the conclusion of this school year.
Students and faculty have shared favorite memories, including Keno’s participation in the annual “Donuts with Dad” event. Sixth graders at the school draw a picture of their father but do not label it. The dads have to figure out which picture is of them. Each year, there is a student whose dad cannot be there, so Keno steps in to play dad. It always brings joy to the child, and he has a good time as well.
“Drawing Mr. Keno was a unique and strange experience,” remembers Rowan Watt. “The pressure was on because if I messed up the picture all eyes would be on me. Even though my picture was not perfect, Mr. Keno liked it, and I felt I had done a good job.”
Students and staff said Keno has inspired them through his devotion to his faith, his commitment to create a school community where everyone feels welcomed, and his tireless efforts to get to know each student and to help each achieve his/her personal best.
“Mr. Keno has been a blessing to our St. Theresa Community. He has dedicated much of himself to our school, children and parish,” affirms Errikka Paiz, who has two daughters in middle school there.
Keno was hired one week before the start of the 2013-14 school year, so he had to hit the ground running. He has not stopped since. What was supposed to be a few months as an interim principal turned into six years.
“He has done wonders for the school and has been a great counselor and friend for me,” said Father John Kavcak, MSC, Pastor of St. Theresa Parish.
Keno has pioneered new curriculum such as Foss, Mystery Science, Amplify, Dr. Sun’s First in Math and Newsela. “Mr. Keno has been a support for me, giving me many resources and much guidance,” reflects teacher Jessica Zarate.
Keno has also overseen the renovation of the Middle School and Preschool Buildings and gym at St. Theresa School. This year his efforts led to the opening of a new STEM Lab. Fourth grader Bivani Romo was very excited about building a Lego Robotic Satellite there.
“I really liked working with my friends and I had to learn how to code in order to move the satellite,” she said.
Keno is very active in the St. Theresa Parish, serving as a Eucharistic Minister, and on many committees, and attending parish functions.
“The best thing I can say is that Mr. Keno is first and foremost a devoted Catholic man,” says parishioner Pat Cienkus. “He reflects what a Catholic principal and leader should be. He is visible at Sunday Mass, sitting in the front pew and is always willing to lend a hand.”
Keno has inspired students, parents, staff and parishioners to live up to the teachings of Jesus, they say. The school community said they hope that he is proud of the work he has done and that he never forgets the difference he has made at St. Theresa School.