Sr. Lenore Pochelski, IHM… A Strong Woman of Mind and Heart
Sr. Lenore was born in Chicago, the oldest of three daughters. Their mother was an executive secretary for Jewel Foods; their father was a pipe fitter and welder for International Harvester. Sr. Lenore attended public school until 5th grade when her family moved to the suburbs, and she enrolled in a Catholic school where she was taught by sisters for the first time.
When the Pochelski girls were in high school, their mother found a new Catholic all-girl school, Immaculate Heart of Mary High School in Westchester, IL, for Sr. Lenore and her younger sisters to attend. There, the family was introduced to the IHM Sisters from Monroe, MI who founded and staffed this new school. As a high school student, Sr. Lenore was drawn to the IHMs because they were intelligent women, strong educators, and vibrant leaders – and following graduation, she entered the IHM Congregation on September 7, 1965.
As an IHM sister, Sr. Lenore attended Marygrove College on the Monroe campus for four years, studying theology in addition to regular college subjects. For her last year of undergraduate work, Sr. Lenore joined the students on Marygrove’s Detroit campus. During these five years, the years following Vatican II, the Catholic Church, and the IHM Sisters were experiencing great change. When Sr. Lenore joined the IHMs in 1965, the Sisters wore full habits and took religious names like Sr. Lenore Marie. By the time she graduated from Marygrove, the sisters were wearing street clothes and going by their family names (Sr. Lenore Pochelski).
After three years of teaching 8th grade at Sacred Heart in Roseville and St. Matthews in Detroit, Sr. Lenore was called back to Monroe where she was directress, teacher, and principal at the Hall of the Divine Child, the IHM-run boys’ boarding school there. During this time, she completed her master’s degree in educational leadership at Wayne State University, and then she moved to Farmington where she was principal of Beahan Junior High, the co-ed junior high school at Our Lady of Sorrows, for 11 years.
While Sr. Lenore was at Beahan Junior High, the IHMs established the Board of Directors at Marian – and she served as an IHM representative on that first Board. Members of the Marian Board then asked her to join the administrative team at the school. Throughout her 30 years at Marian, Sr. Lenore has served as assistant principal, principal, president, and head of school.
Over three decades, Sr. Lenore ensured the school’s mission and vision prosper while preparing the young women for the world ahead. Her gift of connecting with the community has been instrumental in raising money to fund scholarships, which have quadrupled in cash awards. During her tenure, Marian raised capital funds to upgrade technology and expand and improve its footprint to include the new gymnasium, auditorium, Library Media Center, Ferris Foyer, and the Marian Commons with its kitchen, servery, Student Dining Area, Student Lounge, and the courtyard that complemented these additions.
Her stewardship through the global pandemic will make a lasting impact. There was no playbook for educating students. So, she worked with the faculty and staff to shift the school’s focus and recognize areas of need academically, technologically, socially, and emotionally. Marian became a model school for face-to-face and distance learning under government-mandated protocols. The outcome was the creation of a teaching approach that allowed for on-campus students and asynchronous learners to maintain a sense of community for learning and the expansion of social-emotional services available to students, faculty, and staff.
While her time with Marian will end following the 2022-2023 school year, her impact and legacy will be felt for generations to come.