Schools announce new presidents, principals
Cheryllyn M. Branche, Principal, Xavier University Preparatory School, New Orleans, is a native of New Orleans and has been an educator for more than 35 years. After Hurricane Katrina, Branche returned to New Orleans and was reassigned to Benjamin Banneker Elementary School as principal, a position she has held for a total of nine years. Prior to her assignment as principal, Branche worked in Louisiana and Michigan as a secondary counselor, special education teacher, health and physical education teacher and an assistant principal. Recently, Branche was recognized by the State of Louisiana as a “Turnaround Specialist” trained through the University of Virginia’s nationally recognized School Turnaround Specialist Program. In 2010, she received the Educator Excellence Award for the State of Louisiana. She has a master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Southern University at Baton Rouge and certification in educational leadership from Western Michigan University.
Branche’s educational philosophy is that “one size does not fit all” and that programs should be modified to fit the child. She has the firm belief that education must provide students with opportunities to understand how to contribute as citizens and to be responsible for their own learning and that children flourish when provided appropriate opportunities to grow.
Dr. Karen S. Collins, President and Chief Executive Officer, St. Augustine High School, New Orleans, is the first layperson and first female administrator in the school’s history. A New Orleans native, she has a doctorate degree in special education and educational leadership, a master’s degree in educational leadership and special education, and a bachelor’s in elementary education and special education. She has been a school administrator in New Orleans, Mississippi and most recently in Missouri as principal of McClure South Berkeley High School, adjunct instructor in the special education department at the University of Missouri and assistant professor at Harris-Stowe State University.
Collins was principal in New Orleans at Frances Gaudet Elementary prior to Hurricane Katrina and principal at Sarah T. Reed Senior High School post-Katrina. She also is CEO of Smith-Collins, LLC, a development and services company for the elderly and individuals with disabilities.
“It is an honor to be selected as the fourth president in the history of St. Augustine High School,” Collins said. “My pledge is to uphold tradition and forge forward with raising the bar of academic excellence. I am grateful that the St. Augustine Board of Directors considered gender to be but one factor in their assessment of the best qualified person.”
Christian Brother Gale Condit, President, Archbishop Rummel High School, Metairie, most recently was vice president of development at The St. Paul’s School in Covington. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Santa Fe and has earned a master’s of social work in community organization from Tulane University, a master’s of education in guidance and counseling from Loyola University New Orleans and a master’s of religious education from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Brother Gale also is a graduate of Buttimer Institute in Christian Brothers Lasallian studies and of the Graduate School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif. He has a certificate in advanced development training from Catholic School Management, Inc.
In previous stints at Archbishop Rummel, Brother Gale was a religion and sociology teacher, guidance counselor, admissions director and vice principal for development. He also has held teaching and administrative posts at De La Salle High School, the Institute of Human Relations at Loyola University, the Academy of the Sacred Heart, The St. Paul’s School and Covenant House in New York City and New Orleans.
“My goals for this year are to foster and strengthen Lasallian Core Principles, which are faith in the presence of God, quality education, respect for all persons, inclusive community and concern for the poor and social justice,” Brother Gale said. “In a word, we enter to learn and leave to serve.”
Glenn J. Gennaro, Interim President, Ursuline Academy, New Orleans, brings more than 40 years of Catholic and private education experience to the Academy. Most recently, he served as the principal for the Jefferson Community School (JCS), the oldest charter school in Louisiana. At JCS, he implemented a positive behavior support and mentoring program, directed campus renovations and completed technology upgrades throughout the school. Prior to this position, he was the fellows director and chief financial officer for the School Leadership Center of Greater New Orleans, where he managed a fellows program of continuing education in five civil parishes and acted as chair of the Principals’ Advisory Board and Fellows’ Selection Committee. Gennaro was the principal at St. Clement of Rome School, Pope John Paul II High School and St. Christopher School. As principal, he developed curriculum guides, integrated technology throughout the classroom, directed fund-raising campaigns, and supervised planning and construction for new facilities. Gennaro was also the director of guidance and admissions for Jesuit High School, the assistant principal at Academy of the Holy Angels, and a teacher at Redemptorist High School. Among his numerous board memberships is the Clarion Herald Board of Directors. The New Orleans native is a graduate of Jesuit High School and earned his B.A. and M.Ed. from the University of New Orleans.
Gennaro said he appreciates a quotation from St. Angela Merici, which may be appropriate for the coming academic year: “If according to the times and circumstances the need arises to make new rules or do something differently, do it prudently and with good advice.”
Michael Guillot, President, De La Salle High School, New Orleans, is a New Orleans native and has a life-long career in education and the nonprofit sector. He started his career as a Catholic school educator in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, working for 12 years as a teacher, coach, counselor, administrator and principal. From 1990 until Hurricane Katrina, he founded and operated one of the largest consulting firms for nonprofit organizations, working with more than 100 different schools, universities, hospitals and organizations around the country. After Katrina, Guillot and his family relocated to North Carolina for five years, where he continued his leadership roles in healthcare and the arts, as well as serving as an adjunct faculty member and instructor at Peace College and Duke University. In 2010, he returned to New Orleans to serve Holy Cross School as its assistant headmaster until his appointment to the presidency at De La Salle. Guillot is advancing to candidacy in 2012 and will earn a Ph.D. in leadership and change from Antioch University in 2013.
“Lasallian educators have been transforming lives around the world since 1680,” Guillot said. “It is an honor and privilege to join the De La Salle community in advancing this mission of service to the families and students of our area.”
Peggy St. John, Principal, De La Salle High School, New Orleans, has served at De La Salle in many teaching and administrative capacities since 1982, following her graduation from the University of New Orleans with a B.S. degree in mathematics education. She taught math and assisted the academic assistant principal with scheduling. Her various roles over the years have included math department head, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) accreditation chair, faculty senate leader, summer school principal, academic games coach, Mu Alpha Theta moderator, JETS team coordinator, chess club moderator and Math Counts coach. Coordinating students in Academic Games was special because it involved traveling with students to national competitions, where they frequently won awards. St. John earned an M.Ed. in administration from UNO in 1999 and was named De La Salle’s dean of academics, assuming many of the responsibilities of an academic assistant principal. In 2003, she became the academic assistant principal and also assumed responsibility as the moderator of District and State Literary Rally. She was appointed principal last September by the school’s corporation board.
“It has been such an honor and privilege to work at De La Salle High School for the past 30 years with some of the most talented and dedicated faculty and staff in the city,” St. John said. “As principal, my goal is to continue the Lasallian traditions of De La Salle High School, which include academic excellence, spiritual development and athletic success. God has truly blessed us at 5300 St. Charles Avenue by giving us the opportunity to transform our students’ lives and to continue to teach minds and touch hearts!”
Deborah Bradbury, Principal, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Kenner, has had a 36-year career in education in Louisiana and California, including 27 years in Catholic schools. She has taught grades Pre-K through eighth. She was raised Catholic and attended both Catholic elementary and secondary schools. As a teacher her heart has always been in Catholic schools. So she is happy to once again be back in a Catholic school where she can not only teach, but also be the best leader she can be.
“My goal as principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is to provide to the children who are entrusted to our care a safe and loving environment in which to come to school every day; to encourage personal growth of the students’ relationship with God through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ; and to provide students with an education that will prepare them spiritually, academically, socially and emotionally to make moral real-life decisions,” Bradbury said.
Miriam F. Daniel, Principal, St. Rita School, Harahan, had served as assistant principal of St. Rita from 2006-11 and has been a member of the parish for 25 years. All three of her children attended St. Rita School. Daniel earned a master’s of education from Loyola University New Orleans and was the recipient of Loyola’s Outstanding Graduate in Reading Award. She holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Loyola and was awarded Catholic School Administrator Certification in 2010. Daniel was assistant principal at St. Clement of Rome School from 2004-06 and assistant principal and third-grade teacher at St. Agnes School from 2002-04. She also taught previously at Faith Lutheran School. She was assistant to the director of Loyola’s Summer Reading Clinic in 1986 and 1987. She was a member and later vice president of the St. Rita School Board of Education and chairperson of the St. Agnes School Improvement Team for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in 2000 and 2001.
“To teach as Jesus did and to lead by example is intrinsic to the role of the Catholic school principal,” Daniel said. “With this in mind, I look forward to creating a positive learning environment centered in Christ where all students can thrive and reach their fullest potential.”
John “Matt” Downey V, Principal, St. Benilde School, Metairie, has been working in Catholic education and ministry since he was 20, when he began working as the director of drama for his high school alma mater, Newark (Ohio) Catholic High School. Since then, he has worked in parish ministry as a youth minister and extensively in Catholic schools as a drama director, coach, club moderator, teacher and now in his sixth year as a school administrator. He has served previously in the Diocese of Columbus and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va. Downey received a master’s of religious education from Loyola University New Orleans in 2004. He also has a bachelor’s degree in English from Ohio State University and a master’s of science in educational leadership from the University of Dayton.
“I am very much looking forward to working with the St. Benilde Parish and School family to ensure that St. Benilde remains a viable Catholic school that promotes the academic, social, and – most importantly – spiritual development that each individual child will need to be the faith-filled leaders of tomorrow,” Downey said. “The school belongs to the community, and I am humbled to serve them.”
Dr. Bridget Hagan, Assistant Head of School, Stuart Hall School for Boys, New Orleans, taught for the last seven years at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She brings with her a strong academic background and a depth of experiences working in the areas of curriculum and instruction and teacher development. Hagan graduated from St. Mary’s Dominican High School and obtained a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., in 2000. She graduated with a master of science degree in reading education from Loyola University New Orleans, which she has used to work with students and teachers as a reading specialist. Hagan completed her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of New Orleans, where she has taught as an adjunct professor since 2006.
“As assistant head of school, I hope to further the mission of the Stuart Hall community, which is to live the words of Catholic educator Janet Erskine Stuart, R.S.C.J. (‘Education is formation, not just information’),” Hagan said.