Berendes to retire after 14 years leading Resurrection School

By John Rohlf

The Message Assistant Editor

Click here to hear more on Berendes' decision to retire

Theresa Berendes

After over 30 years in education and 14 years leading Resurrection School as their principal, Theresa Berendes is retiring at the end of the school year to spend more time with family. 

Berendes, who grew up on the west side of Evansville and went through the Catholic School system as a student, has worked 32 years in the diocese. After teaching middle school math for 15 years at St. John the Baptist School in Newburgh, she was a principal at St. Theresa School for three years and Resurrection School for the last 14 years. She also taught for one year at the beginning of her career in the public school system. 

Berendes said the opportunity to be a principal at Resurrection was a perfect fit for both her and her family. 

“Resurrection’s my home parish … as an adult,” Berendes said. “My husband and I, we raised our family here at Resurrection. And when this position came open, it was the perfect time for our family, for me to move here. So I was lucky enough to get the job here.” 

Even before taking the principal jobs at St. Theresa and later at Resurrection, Berendes was afforded the opportunity to take on leadership. Berendes took on a leadership role for discipline at St. John the Baptist, when she was still teaching there. She was afforded this opportunity by Charlotte Bennett, who was principal at the time. From that point, Berendes was able to make a natural transition to taking on her administrative roles. 

Berendes said another benefit was the funding provided by the Diocese of Evansville to help her pay for her master's degree to get into administration. 

“They needed more people into administration,” Berendes said. “So that was an incentive to move that way too. And then St. Theresa was perfect for my first job as a principal. And then the timing of this was perfect for our family as well.” 

Berendes was challenged immediately upon starting her tenure at Resurrection. Two students died over a three-month period, which she said “was a tough time for our community.” She stressed through this time, they bonded as a community. 

She also noted the growth of the school and the quality of the staff of Resurrection. 

“For me to know that I’ve had a part of pulling that team together, in my opinion, the best school in the Diocese of Evansville,” Berendes said. “Our team is incredible. Our families are supportive. It’s just a thriving community here at Resurrection but it’s time for me to take and focus on my family.” 

Resurrection teacher Courtney Ethridge and Berendes started at Resurrection at the same time. Ethridge, who will be taking on the newly formed assistant principal position next school year, touted the strong foundation Berendes built in her time as principal at Resurrection. 

“She’s here all the time,” Ethridge said. “She’s a lifelong parishioner. She came in knowing the people and the school and just hit the ground running. And just has made this such a strong foundation.” 

Berendes stressed the desire to have more time for family was a key factor in her desire to retire. 

“We’ll certainly miss Mrs. Berendes,” Diocese of Evansville Superintendent of Schools Michelle Priar said. “But I know she looks forward to spending more time with her family, and for that, we’re very happy for her.”

Berendes shared her mother passed away when Berendes was 20 years old. She cited the difficulty for her not to have her mother there to help raise Berendes’ children. She said now with multiple grandchildren, it is time to focus on family. 

“It’s been our life dream to do this,” Berendes said. “This is what, as parents, we’ve worked on since we had a child 30 years ago. This was the plan we put into place and it’s come to fruition. I love being here. I love what I do. But it’s time.” 

Nancy Dukes was recently named as Berendes’ successor as the school’s principal, with Ethridge serving as the assistant principal. Check our other story in this week’s issue on the hires of Dukes and Ethridge to administrative roles.