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January 4, 2021

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Dr. Catherine Von Hatten, 1954-2020

Catherine LeBlanc Von Hatten, a former MRH assistant superintendent of schools, passed away unexpectedly on December 29, 2020 in Boulder, Colorado after a brief struggle with cancer. She was 66 years old.

Dr. Von Hatten served MRH from 2000 through 2005 and was a key figure in the turnaround of the district during a tumultuous and challenging period. Serving under then-superintendent Dr. Linda Henke, she worked tirelessly to reverse a long history of financial and academic setbacks. Within a few years, MRH was recognized nationally for its innovative practices. Teachers, principals and administrators at MRH remember Dr. Von Hatten as calm in the middle of chaos, kind, and both skillful and relentless in finding solutions to complex problems.

"She is credited with much of the curriculum work that transformed the district," says Roxanna Mechem, the current acting superintendent. "There are many stories about Catherine in MRH lore that speak to her grace under pressure, her commitment to children, and her strong leadership. She will be missed by many who had the pleasure to work with her."

MRH Board secretary Maria Langston adds, "Catherine truly embodied grace under fire and was such a champion for MRH. She taught us so much." 

In early childhood, Catherine's family moved several times for her father to serve as a Navy doctor. These moves shaped her in three key ways: she learned to build friendships easily, adapt to situations quickly, and find pleasure in new experiences. She married in 1975, the same year she graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. The Von Hattens raised their daughter in St. Louis. During their time here, Catherine continued her education, achieving a Master’s Degree from Washington University and Doctoral Degree from St. Louis University. She served in multiple positions in the School District of Clayton. From teaching kindergarten and early childhood classes to serving as a teacher leader and then a principal and professional development director, she embraced the challenges of new and complex positions.

After retirement from MRH in 2005, Dr. Von Hatten continued as an active teacher, learner and participant in her community. She consulted with many school districts and was a consummate coach for a long list of highly successful teachers and principals. She took up water color when she and husband Michael moved to the island of St. Thomas for several years, drawing upon the beauty of the tropics for inspiration and continued her passion throughout the remainder of her life.

Catherine LeBlanc Von Hatten is survived by her husband, Michael Von Hatten, of Boulder, Colorado; her daughter Ashley Von Hatten and son-in-law John Yerton, of Westminister, Colorado; her parents, Dr. Joseph and Shirley LeBlanc of Edmond, Oklahoma; her three younger sisters and their husbands: Joanne Williams (Daryl) of Edmond, Oklahoma, Mary Bailey (Ken) of Williamsburg, Virginia, and Jeanie Butts (Benjamin) of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Cancer Society at http://main.acsevents.org/goto/Catherine_VonHatten .

For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.