Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


New associate superintendent brings ‘true passion’ for Catholic Schools 

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published March 22, 2024

ATLANTA—The Archdiocese of Atlanta Catholic Schools hired Dr. Tony Bonta to serve as an associate superintendent for the school system.  

Bonta will be focused on advancement and strategic planning efforts as he focuses on school viability issues. 

“Dr. Bonta has been a teacher, a principal, a president and an associate superintendent in other dioceses,” said Dr. Diane Starkovich, the school superintendent, in an email. “He brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of Catholic education and a true passion for Catholic schools.”

Dr. Tony Bonta, coming from the Diocese of Nashville, joins the staff of the Office of Catholic Schools as an associate superintendent. Photo by Johnathon Kelso

His previous position was in the Diocese of Nashville as the assistant superintendent of schools.  

Bonta, 58, grew up in Hobart, Indiana. He earned his doctorate in historical theology, examining the implementation of the Second Vatican Council and the pursuit of racial justice in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana. He and his wife, Adela, live in Gallatin, Tennessee, and are members of Our Lady of the Lake Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. 

Bonta answered questions from The Georgia Bulletin about his service in Catholic education: 

Can you share a bit about your background and journey to becoming an associate school superintendent? 

I was born and raised in Northwest Indiana. I grew up in an Italian (paternal) and Slovak (maternal) household surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents where faith, family, friends, food and fun were values that we lived each day. I am excited and blessed to be a product of Catholic education from grade school to graduate school (with the exception of kindergarten, first grade and freshman year of college). I am a life-long educator with 30-plus years of experience in private and Catholic education as a teacher, coach, administrator, and secondary school principal and president.   

What or who inspired you to pursue a career in education, and what motivates you to serve as an education leader in Catholic schools? 

My parents, as well as my teacher, Helen Giorgio, and two mentors, Jim Jovanovic and Ron Altstadt motivated me to pursue a career in Catholic education. 

I am motivated to learn more about the schools and school communities, and to serve and support them. Catholic schools are a precious and invaluable treasure for our Catholic Church and the world. Each and every day, we have the opportunity to educate and form generations of students, faculty, staff, families and stakeholders in church teaching, academic excellence, development of one’s skills and God-given gifts and vocation, character formation and the importance of service and justice.  

One of my greatest joys is to attend all-school Masses and pray with and for those school communities, as one sees the students celebrating their faith, participating in ministry, and giving praise to God. 

How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you believe it benefits the schools and communities you serve? 

Collaborative leadership, grounded in building relationships, listening, and collaboration. It is so important to listen and learn about a school community, their history and traditions, a diocese and its history. Leadership is built on trust, authenticity and integrity, understanding the needs of the community, being caring and understanding, and leading with support and service to our schools and school communities. 

How do you approach building relationships with staff, students, parents and other stakeholders in the education community? 

It is important to visit the schools and meet staff, students, parents, and other stakeholders, to understand their needs, goals and hopes. It is important to serve and support, through word and action.   

Outside of your role as an educator, what are some hobbies you enjoy in your free time? 

I enjoy cooking and grilling, visiting college campuses and historic sites.