Bishop DuBourg High School’s Mark Bayens and Monica Freese bring enthusiasm and experience to their new roles of running the co-ed Catholic high school with a mission of teaching the Catholic faith and offering opportunities for service while striving for academic excellence.
Bayens is the president of the archdiocesan school. The parishioner of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque in Oakville left a position as athletic director at Notre Dame High School to return home — he graduated from DuBourg in 1981. It’s also where his father, Ray Bayens was a teacher, class coordinator and athletic director for 37 years.
Freese is the principal of the school with a motto of “Faith in Christ … Service to Others.” The St. Michael in Shrewsbury parishioner comes from St. Louis Public Schools, where she was assistant principal of Northwest Academy of Law and Social Justice.
The duo began work on July 1. The two leaders began communicating early on with their vision and commitment and how they bring their variety of experiences to the roles. Since both of them are new, “we bring both feet fully forward into 21st-century learning. We both bring fresh ideas and are going full steam ahead,” Freese said. “We are 100 percent dedicated to the students’ success and the school’s success.”
Bayens said DuBourg is in a good location with a diverse student body, family atmosphere and strong curriculum. Fundraising, enrollment and facility improvements are a big part of his role. He’s building on the 70-year tradition of Catholic education and updating people on the improvements in facilities and the comprehensive college preparatory curriculum.
A strength is DuBourg’s campus ministry, involved in all aspects of students’ lives, Freese explained. “The faith formation is authentic because it’s really, truly a walking, talking example of the Catholic faith.”
This semester students are doing service projects with women religious communities. Faith-based activities include Kairos retreats and class prayer days. Several clubs center on spirituality and service.
“Faith isn’t something you do on Sunday. Faith is something you live every day,” Freese said.
Baynes added that the school provides a safe place for students to practice their faith in class and in their activities.
Freese touted the school’s Academy of Advanced Studies and college credit courses. The academy is DuBourg’s honors program designed to challenge students with rigorous courses and additional opportunities such as seminar courses, test preparation, college visits and summer enrichment activities. DuBourg offers 56 advanced college credit hours through Saint Louis University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The student-teacher ratio is 9-1, a full-time learning consultant is on board and every student has a Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet.
“We’re making sure every student here is fully prepared for college and career,” Freese said.
The goal of their strategic plan is to increase alumni involvement, academic potential and enrollment along with improving facilities. Personal outreach is a priority focused on meeting the community’s needs.
Besides the renewed energy and dedication of the leadership team, DuBourg has had extensive investment from the archdiocese and alumni, Freese said. The Annual Catholic Appeal supports the school with an annual gift toward capital improvements, scholarships and academic programs.
The administrators are inspired by the students.”They are so positive and such good kids. You want to make sure every day you are doing right by them,” Freese said.
Bayens said he’s “paying it forward” as someone who benefited from a DuBourg education and also what it meant to his father. Mike Berks, technology director, and Kevin Regan both were on staff when Bayens attended DuBourg. After serving as DuBourg president for one year, Regan returned to teaching religion at the school. Former principal Bridget Timony moved to Springfield, Illinois, to care for her mother full time.
>> DuBourg profile
• Students come from 43 different zip codes and 75 grade schools.
• 39% of the student body is made up of students of color.
• 75% of students are Catholic and 25% are from other faith traditions.
• Approximately 65% receive some sort of tuition assistance.
• 50% are boys and 50% girls.
• 70% of faculty have advanced degrees
• More than 25 sports teams and more than 20 clubs and activities
For information, visit www.bishopdubourg.org. To contribute to one of the funds for the school, visit bit.ly/3hKxgac.
>> New leadership
The archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education and Formation named Mark Bayens the president and Monica Freese the principal of Bishop DuBourg High School earlier this year.
Experience: Director of athletics at Notre Dame High School. He previously worked at Rockwood Summit High School and has been a teacher, coach and department chair with additional experience in administrative affairs, finance and fundraising.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in physical education and health from the University of Missouri-Columbia; master’s degree in education from Maryville University; master’s degree in education administration from Lindenwood University.
He is a 1981 graduate of DuBourg. His father, Ray Bayens, was a teacher, class coordinator and athletic director at DuBourg for many years. DuBourg’s Alumni Hall is named for him. He died in 2000 at the school at age 64, apparently of a heart attack, and his funeral Mass was held at the school.
Experience: Assistant principal of Northwest Academy of Law and Social Justice, part of St. Louis Public Schools. She previously was international baccalaureate coordinator at Metro Academic and Classical High School and has served as a teacher, department chair and program coordinator. She was selected for the 2020 Missouri Leadership Academy and has been the Secondary Social Studies Teacher of the Year.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Blackburn University; master’s degree in public administration from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville; 7-12 secondary certificate in social studies from Washington University; 9-12 principal certificate from Saint Louis University; doctorate degree in education leadership from Maryville University.