In the spirit of celebrating the 150th anniversary of its founding, La Salle University presented honorary degrees at its May 19 Commencement exercises to three Catholic educators who have started or operated schools that offer hope, support, and opportunities for their students in the Lasallian tradition.
“Each of those honored have demonstrated the ability to put into practice the philosophy of St. John Baptist de La Salle, our namesake and the patron saint of teachers,” said La Salle University President Brother Michael J. McGinniss, F.S.C. “As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of our founding, it is fitting we honor those who have contributed to the mission of St. La Salle by continuing his legacy.”
The three recipients were Brother Brian Carty, F.S.C., founder and President of De La Salle Academy, a private, independent middle school in New York City for economically disadvantaged but academically gifted students; Brother Lawrence Goyette, F.S.C., founder of the San Miguel School in Providence, R.I., an inner-city middle school that has become a model for other schools across the nation; and Sister Jeanne McGowan, S.S.J., President of La Salle Academy in North Philadelphia, a school for students in grades 3 through 8 whose families would not otherwise be able to afford a Catholic education.
Br. Brian began teaching at the Monsignor Kelly School, a private school for inner-city boys in New York, and he later became its principal. He started De La Salle Academy in 1984, and the school has become known for individualized instruction and a focus on the whole child: body, heart, mind, and spirit. In 2003, he founded George Jackson Academy, an independent school for academically capable boys from lower-income and underserved families in New York City. He is co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Franciscan Community Center, which serves the needs of the poor and immigrants on New York City’s Upper West Side.
“Sister Jeanne, Brother Lawrence, and I are honored to officially join La Salle University’s wonderful community,” Br. Brian said. “We have followed in the footsteps of those pioneers who, 150 years ago, opened up an institution that was built on the philosophy and principles of John Baptist de La Salle. As everyone is clamoring about school reform, the bedrock upon which any new and effective educational system must be built is the Lasallian principles of a clearly articulated and lived mission, a challenging curriculum geared to the practical needs of students, teachers who know their students well, and a strong and supportive community that enables teachers to do and be their best.”
Br. Brian holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Catholic University, a master’s in counseling psychology from New York University, and a master’s in social work from Columbia University.
Br. Lawrence has been a teacher and administrator at several Catholic schools in Rhode Island, New York City, and Long Island, N.Y., since 1972. He served as President of San Miguel School in Providence from its founding in 1993 until 2003, and he now serves as its Executive Director.
“It’s an incredible honor to receive an honorary doctorate from La Salle University,” said Br. Lawrence. “The mission of La Salle University aligns closely with the mission of the San Miguel School in Providence. La Salle goes to great lengths to be able to provide a quality Lasallian and Christian education to students. I am proud to now be a part of this great Lasallian university.”
Br. Lawrence earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Providence College and a master’s in elementary education from Fordham University.
In 2002, Sr. Jeanne, a Sister of St. Joseph, agreed to serve as a consultant to a then-forming school in the San Miguel model that Br. Lawrence began in Providence. That eventually led her to become President of what is now La Salle Academy. Believing that education provides a way out of the cycle of poverty, Sr. Jeanne has developed La Salle Academy into a flourishing school. The school, she said, relies on “the generosity of others” to provide the funding that enables it to offer a high-quality education for students with only a modest contribution from their families.
“When Brother Michael called me in January and informed me that I’d be receiving the degree, I told him that I was humbled and honored,” Sr. Jeanne said. “La Salle Academy is the success that it is today because of the hard work of many, many people and because it is owned by an independent Board of Trustees and endorsed by the Brothers of the Christian Schools and Sisters of Saint Joseph. The charisms of both orders are shared and encouraged. However, La Salle Academy is a Lasallian school. We follow the philosophy of education of the Brothers and of St. John Baptist de La Salle.”
A native of Philadelphia’s Kensington section, Sr. Jeanne served for 14 years as a teacher and Principal of Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic School in West Philadelphia. She was also the President of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Principals Association. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Chestnut Hill College and a master’s of education from Boston College.