By Gary Luster
Although the 2024 national election is still two years away, Serra High School in Gardena has already elected its newest president, Dr. John Moran.
“I absolutely love it there, I love the students, the community, the families, the alums,” Dr. Moran said of his new home. “I’ve never seen a school community so passionate for its school.”
Moran, who assumed office at Serra on May 2 of this year, who has been hailed as a transformational leader, has created sustainable change and excellence in schools, colleges and businesses throughout the course of his career.
With a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Doctorate of K12 & Higher Ed. Leadership from the University of Southern California, Dr. Moran was the person that Serra has entrusted to take the school to new heights of academic excellence.
“I want to build on the culture of excellence that is already at Serra and my vision is to have us to be excellent across the board, not just in athletics,” Dr. Moran said. “We’re known for that but we do so much more and I want to continue to strengthen academics and the arts and STEM education.”
True to his word, Dr. Moran has already enrolled the school in an ambitious new program involving the international space station. Thanks to his efforts, Serra is one of only nine schools in the entire country this year with a berth on the space station.
The school’s National Society of Black Engineers Club (NSBE) is already beginning to design, program, and build a unique experiment relating to micro gravity which will be sent to the international space station in the spring of 2023. The NSBE students will create their experiment using NASA guidelines.
The experiment will remain on the ISS for one month, during which time, the astronauts will download data to our students, so they can analyze and draw conclusions from their experimentation.
But Dr. Moran’s vision doesn’t end there. One of the focuses his career has been strengthening academic rigor and excellence. In light of that, he is taking a holistic or big picture approach to implementing his vision for the school which will include not just academics, but athletics and faith as well. The past few years saw the school construction a new $1.3 million football stadium as well as the renovation of several existing buildings on campus.
With his creation of a board of consultants, Dr. Moran will be using them to help develop a five-year strategic campus master plan that he believes will catapult Serra into the future and put them on the journey to excellence. Increased teacher training, professional development, innovative curriculum design, and adding more elective courses are some of the things that will be part of the new campus plan.
While academics and teacher satisfaction is important for any school, Dr. Moran said that it is important that school remember its core values.
“Another focus is to strengthen our Catholic identity by living out the faith, principles and sacraments of the church in everything we do at Serra High School,” Dr. Moran said.
Our mission is to introduce all students to God through Jesus Christ and help them develop their social skills and their EQ as well as their IQ and prepare them to make an impact on their communities instead of just an impression.”
With 23 years of leadership experience in religious schools and colleges such as Don Bosco Technical High School in Boston in the 90s, as well as various religious schools in northern and southern California, he is well aware of the importance of religion and faith in a student’s life.
Dr. Moran wants his teachers to not only provide exceptional teaching methodologies to students but to also mentor the students both spiritually and socially so that the boys and girls at his school grow and develop into godly men and women.
To help facilitate their spiritual growth, he makes it a point to leave his office on campus every day so that he can eat lunch with the students and talk to them about things that are important to them.
Moran wants to make Serra into a rewarding experience for students and one of the ways he does that is by talking with student leadership groups.
These groups have told him that they want Serra to provide more educational opportunities, more elective courses, and more after-school programs. Dr. Moran has already made good on that with the space station program and plans to continue to make good next year when robotics will be added to the school’s educational curriculum.
“I want to develop leadership qualities in students,” he said. “We provide a variety of leadership opportunities such as campus ministry, student government. We want to develop leaders, not followers.”
Moran earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Massachusetts and Master of Education from Harvard University. He received his Doctor of Education from USC after completing a dissertation based on his research of African American parent perspectives on special education. He will work closely with school principal Jeff Guzman to implement his vision for the school’s business operations and external affairs of the school.
Junipero Serra High School is located in Gardena. The school is operated by the Department of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The High School was founded by James Francis Cardinal McIntyre in 1950. For more information on Dr. John Moran or on Serra High School, visit their website at la-serrahs.org.