Pam Breuning, principal of St. Dominic School in Springfield, Ky., feels certain God called her to Catholic education.
Her career in Catholic education is a combination of her life’s interests — faith, children and education, she said in an interview earlier this week.
“I feel strongly that I’m called to be here, that God led me here. I think it all fell into place for a reason,” she said.
Early this month, the Archdiocese of Louisville recognized her faith-filled leadership. She received the archdiocese’s Distinguished Catholic School Leader Award Feb. 2 during the annual Catholic Schools Week Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption.
Breunig has led the Washington County elementary school for 19 years. Under her leadership, St. Dominic earned the National Blue Ribbon School distinction in 2019, a feat she thought all but impossible when she took the helm.
“I remember thinking early on, we could never get anything like that. I thought ‘we don’t have this, we don’t have that,’ ” she explained. “I finally decided to get what we needed and to concentrate on what we needed to improve on. And, that’s what we did.”
That persistence and dedication to education comes naturally to her, she said. At a young age, her parents instilled in her the value of education, particularly Catholic education. She attended her parish school, St. Augustine in Lebanon, Ky.
Her father, also an educator, was principal of Marion Area Technical Center. He and his siblings attended St. Dominic and he encouraged Breunig to apply for the principal position in 2002.
“I wasn’t even looking for a job when this opportunity came up. I remember I interviewed on my birthday. Now, every year on my birthday it reminds me what a gift this is to me,” she said.
In her nomination form, Breunig was described as “first a Catholic school leader who is always focused on the mission.”
“This informs her actions and decisions, making sure that the student is always front and center when making those decisions,” the nomination said.
Her faith, she said, is her first priority. Prayer begins the school day, meetings in her office and faculty gatherings.
The overall formation of students entrusted in her care is a great responsibility and one, she said, that keeps her going even on the tough days.
“This year has been very trying but I really think my experience has helped me to weather it. We have been through some tough times at this school before so I knew we could do this. Our staff has done a brilliant job,” she said.
St. Dominic has 207 students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and 30 faculty and staff members.
Prior to becoming principal of St. Dominic, Breunig was an English teacher for nine years at Marion County High School. She holds a bachelor’s of arts degree in advertising from Western Kentucky University, a master’s of arts degree in education from the University of Kentucky and a principal certification from Eastern Kentucky University.
Breunig and her husband of 32 years, Larry, attend St. Dominic Church. They have two adult children: Jackson, 22, and Reed, 19.