Rebecca Hammel, the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Nashville since 2018, is leaving to become the new superintendent for Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Dallas.
“After nearly five years of service to the diocese and the CSO and after prayerful reflection, I have decided to accept a new opportunity in Dallas,” said Dr. Hammel, who has a doctorate in Catholic education leadership and policy. “I am grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve the students, families, and staff of the Diocese of Nashville, and I am confident the CSO will continue to thrive under new leadership.”
Dr. Hammel’s last day at the Diocese of Nashville will be May 26. A national search for a new superintendent will begin in the coming months, with the goal of recruiting the best fit for this important leadership position in the diocese, said Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Brian L. Cooper.
During her time at the helm of the diocese’s Catholic Schools Office, Dr. Hammel worked closely with pastors, principals, and the Catholic Schools Advisory Committee to strengthen the schools of the diocese with respect to their Catholic culture, overall excellence, and institutional vitality.
Key accomplishments during her tenure include:
• Leading Catholic schools through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Expanding Pope John Paul II Preparatory School to include junior high grades 6-8.
• Supporting the launch of St. Michael Academy in Nolensville.
• Reinvigorating the Catholic Schools Office with new staff and significant curriculum improvements.
• Launching and supporting a new identity for the Advancement of Catholic Education (ACE) program.
• Incorporating Hand in Hand Options, the diocesan entity that supports the needs of all students.
“Having brought Dr. Hammel on board, I have always appreciated Rebecca’s leadership and passion for Catholic education and her love for the children,” said Cooper. “Several major achievements were realized in the CSO during her tenure. I am proud of all that has been accomplished and wish her the very best in her new role.”
“What I have accomplished was only possible because of the good people that I worked with during my time here,” Dr. Hammel said. “It has been a blessing to partner with the families, faculties, pastors, and staff members of these schools alongside other dedicated personnel in the Chancery office.”
Nashville Bishop J. Mark Spalding expressed his gratitude for Hammel’s service to the diocese and its schools.
“I want to thank Dr. Hammel for her years of dedicated, Christ-centered service to our diocese and our Catholic schools,” said the bishop. “At times, it was challenging. Facing the Covid-19 crisis, she navigated this uncertainty with great resolve and determination for the well-being of our students and faculty. I wish her well as she transitions into this new stage of her career, and I am grateful for the work she did in our schools.”
Dr. Hammel began her tenure as superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Nashville in August 2018. For more than 30 years, she has been involved in Catholic education as a teacher, principal, and administrator.
She began her career as a teacher in her home state of Indiana. She took her first job as a principal at the age of 28 and then worked for a year in the schools office for the Archdiocese of Louisville. Dr. Hammel then served 11 years as the principal of St. Maria Goretti School in Westfield, Indiana, which is located north of Indianapolis.
From there, she moved to Austin, Texas, where she was the head of the lower school at St. Gabriel Catholic School.
She then served as associate superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Atlanta before coming to Nashville.
The Diocese of Nashville administers 16 diocesan and parochial schools. The 17th and newest diocesan school, St. Michael Academy, is currently under construction in Nolensville and is scheduled to open for classes for the 2024-25 school year. There also are three independent Catholic schools in the diocese.
The Diocese of Dallas has 29 diocesan and seven independent Catholic schools with 13,874 students, according to the Schools’ 2022 Annual Report.