Vigneron, sister-in-law of archbishop, brings 30 years of education experience, passion for Catholic education to new role
DETROIT — The Archdiocese of Detroit’s Department of Catholic Schools will welcome a new associate superintendent for the 2022-23 academic year, announcing Kim Vigneron will serve schools in the archdiocese’s Northeast Region, which includes St. Clair and Macomb counties.
Vigneron brings more than 30 years of experience in education to her new role, which will begin Aug. 17. She will assist Deacon Sean Costello, who was hired as superintendent in April, and joins a regional administrative team that includes Laura Knaus, associate superintendent for the Northwest Region, and Eric Haley, associate superintendent for the South Region.
Vigneron is the sister-in-law of Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, and was selected after a thorough search process that included standard hiring practices, Deacon Costello said.
“Kim has over 30 years of experience in education, having served as an administrator, instructional coach and teacher,” Deacon Costello said in a letter to schools Aug. 1. “I am excited for Kim to join our team. She brings with her a wealth of experience, a fresh perspective, and a tremendous love for our Lord and His Church.”
Most recently, Vigneron served as principal of Beverly Elementary School in Birmingham. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from Hillsdale College, a master’s in educational leadership from Saginaw Valley State University, and an educational specialist degree from Wayne State University. She and her husband, Gary Vigneron, have two adult sons, Garrett and Griffin.
Having been raised in a family of educators, Vigneron said education “has always been a focus in my life.”
“I’m a firm believer that God intended for me to be in education,” said Vigneron, who lives in St. Clair and attends Our Lady on the River Parish in Marine City. “That’s the calling that I heard early on. Even as young as middle school, I had the opportunity to help in my mom’s kindergarten classroom, and I just always found joy in that.”
After earning her degree from Hillsdale, Vigneron began her teaching career in the same elementary school where her mother taught: Lobbestael Elementary in the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools system.
“She was a kindergarten teacher, and I was a third-grade teacher,” Vigneron said. “So that was a good memory to have, and my mom has always been my mentor.”
When her mother retired, Vigneron even took over her former classroom, teaching kindergarten for nine years at Lobbestael. After a break to raise her own children, Vigneron pursued advanced degrees in educational leadership, and returned to the education scene as a learning consultant in the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools.
Over the next nine years, she held a variety of roles in the district, including as learning support specialist, response to intervention specialist, and literacy coach, assisting L'Anse Creuse teachers and administrators in introducing new educational strategies.
In 2013, Vigneron was hired as principal of Tenniswood Elementary School in Clinton Township, also in the L'Anse Creuse district, and four years later, she moved on to become principal of Beverly Elementary in Birmingham, where she helped guide the school’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Working with the Archdiocese of Detroit will allow Vigneron to merge her love of education with her love for the Gospel, she said.
“As I’ve evolved and grown in my career, not only have I grown as a professional, but I’ve also grown in my faith life,” Vigneron said of her new role with the Archdiocese of Detroit. “This allows me the opportunity to serve both of those pieces.”
As associate superintendent, Vigneron will work directly with principals, pastors and teachers in the Northeast Region to help form the next generation of missionary disciples, including a commitment to strong academics and a vibrant Catholic identity.
“Just like learning your ABCs, if you start early with learning that love of Jesus, (children) will grow up spreading that love and evangelization to others,” Vigneron said. “I think that’s what draws me to this role.”
Given her background helping teachers in various support and leadership roles, Vigneron said she hopes to take what she’s learned and share it to help Catholic schools grow and adapt to the challenges and opportunities of the post-pandemic learning environment.
“Having the opportunity to be immersed in academics and curriculum throughout my career, I’ve always worked alongside teachers and principals to facilitate and share instructional strategies,” Vigneron said. “I’ve had the opportunity to have a lot of training in that area, and I hope I’ll be able to work with principals and teachers in that capacity.”
As a parent, Vigneron said she understands the need for Catholic schools to present an attractive alternative to public education, which starts first with listening to parents and students, she said.
“Not every parent is looking for the exact same thing” when considering a Catholic education for their child, Vigneron said. “It’s about listening to them and asking, what are their hopes and aspirations for their children? I don’t know if there’s one answer. I think when you have that conversation, it can help guide parents to see how important choosing a Catholic school really can be.”
In addition to the regional associate superintendents, the Department of Catholic Schools also includes May Bluestein, Ph.D., assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment; Jill Haines, JD, CPA, assistant superintendent for school finance and government programs; and Vic Michaels, assistant superintendent for student services and athletics.