Keith F. Kiser, Headmaster
For more than two decades, Keith Kiser has watched over St. Joseph's Catholic School with a steady hand and a prayer in his heart. As High School Director Dr. Steven Jones said, "Keith has seen it all."
"It's a real risk for us to get lost in the details of running a school and to lose sight of the mission at times, but Keith never does," said Dr. Jones. "It helps us make a lot of decisions when there is no playbook, which is pretty common when working with 600-plus teenagers and preteens."
"He doesn't take his eye off the prize, which to me is the mission of the school," said Jennifer Church, Assistant to the Headmaster since the year after Keith arrived. "He doesn't divert his gaze from Christ, so I feel like he's led us in the right direction all these years."
Keith began his duties at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in the summer of 2000. Under his leadership, the school was immediately recognized as the first independent Catholic school in the Diocese of Charleston on August 15, 2000.
Enrollment at the school has grown from 164 students in 2000 to more than 600 students today. The school expanded from four high school grades to a total of seven grades, including the Upstate’s first single-gender middle school.
When Keith arrived in 2000, the school employed 27 faculty and staff. Today, the school employs more than 90 faculty and staff members, many of whom Keith recruited from across the country. In 2000, there were only two male teachers on staff; today, there are more than 30. Keith initiated the Household Program, had the Blessed Sacrament brought onto campus, and petitioned the Bishop for a full-time chaplain.
During his tenure, St. Joseph’s has received national recognition multiple times as one of America’s Best Catholic High Schools from the Catholic High School Honor Roll. The school has not only continued its academic successes of a 100% college acceptance rate, exceptional SAT/ACT scores, and numerous National Merit Finalists but also enjoyed unparalleled athletic success, including state championships among several of the school’s sports teams.
"Keith embodies what it means to be a true servant leader," said Middle School Director Wanda Jaraczewski. "He is fiercely loyal to the mission of our school, and every decision made is measured against its alignment and support of that mission. Keith brings incredible wisdom to the table -- a wisdom that has been honed and tested by many years of faithful, dedicated service to his faith, his family and this community."
"Keith never makes important decisions hastily," said Barbara McGrath, Director of Admissions and one of the school's founders. "He not only seeks the needed advice of the Board and his leadership team, but he takes everything to God. Throughout the school week, Keith often visits the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and I know he’s praying for the students, his staff, and the families of St. Joe’s, and the wisdom to do God’s will. Keith is a strong leader because of his strong faith and trust in God."
Keith is an experienced teacher, author, motivational speaker, coach, and youth minister. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion from Grove City College, and a Masters of Religious Education from Duquesne University. Keith and his wife, Tami, have 10 children, are members of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Mauldin, and are the owners of Heart Ridge Retreat and Cultural Center in Sunset, S.C.