Janet Eaton visited St. Jude School in Wichita last week, one of the stops she is making to area Catholic schools to orient herself as the new superintendent of Catholic Schools. The school year begins Aug. 16 for most schools, the day after the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. (Advance photo)

By Christopher M. Riggs
Janet Eaton’s life is undergoing a huge transition – at work and at home.
She and her husband, Kevin, just closed on a house last week and most of their belongings are still in storage in St. Louis, Missouri. One of their three children, 13-year-old Cooper, is getting his bearings in a town he’s never lived in and preparing to go to school at St. Francis of Assisi.
Eaton, the new superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Wichita, does have a head start over Cooper. She is a graduate of Newman and Wichita State universities and was the principal at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School from 1992 to 1999.
After accepting a position as principal of a school in Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, her family and work life was nurtured from 1999 to 2018 in the St. Louis area. Another son and daughter, both adults, remain in the Show Me State.
“In the short four days I’ve been here, it’s the same impression that I left with 19 years ago in so many senses. That it’s just a fabulous spot to be. It’s a wonderful place for Catholic education. It’s a treasured gift here in the diocese,” she said last week from her office in the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne building, located on the Cathedral campus.
“So, my first impression is just how lucky I will be to keep working in the schools, with the schools, with the principals and teachers, and particularly the office staff here. My other impression is that I’m following on the heels of a giant and that’s overwhelming at times, but it’s great too. It’s humbling, very humbling.”
Eaton succeeds Bob Voboril, who just retired after 25 years as superintendent.
Much of her time has been spent orienting herself to her new duties. She has been attending meetings, reading, learning about school technology, and meeting as many teachers, principals, and staff as she can. Each morning she tries to go to Mass at a different parish to familiarize herself with the parishes.
“I don’t know that I have initial plans right now. I have certainly been trying to take it all in and understand where things are,” she said.
“From there I hope to be able to think about where the next level would be, where can we go from here? But at this point, my plans are just trying to get onboard…how to be ready for the school year as a team and how to support the schools, and mainly, the educators in those schools.”
Eaton said she is excited to be able to bring what she learned as a principal of an 800-student grade school and 700-student high school to the Diocese of Wichita.
“I think I’m too early in the job to think about what did I learn that I could bring here, but Catholic education in St. Louis is revered as it is here,” she said.
One of the differences, of course, is the adoption of the stewardship model of life in the Diocese of Wichita.
“Stewardship is embraced here in this diocese in the way it should be,” she said. “I want to share the astonishing sense in this diocese of stewardship and of Catholic first and what Catholic education means to the people. It is something to be held tightly because it is so unique. I don’t think I knew a year ago what I missed. I now can look back at it and think, wow.”
She said the Diocese of Wichita’s reputation regarding stewardship is known around the United States. While in St. Louis, when talking about her Wichita roots, people connected stewardship to the diocese.
“Sometimes it is not until you are without something that you really understand and appreciate it. Stewardship is a jewel and we the faithful of this diocese are so fortunate to fully live it each day.”

More about Janet Eaton
Janet Eaton, the new superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Wichita, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1986 from Newman University. She received a master’s degree in Building Administration in 1994 from Wichita State University and an education specialist degree in District-Level Administrative Leadership in 2016 from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.
Work history
• Principal, St. Dominic High School, O’Fallon, Missouri, 2011-2018
• Principal, Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Darlene Prairie, Missouri, 1999-2011
• Principal, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Wichita, 1992-1999