Schools announce new presidents, principals for 2016-2017 school year
New presidents and principals in the family of Catholic elementary and high schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans welcome the 2016-2017 school year at their respective schools.
➤ Michael Giambelluca, who served for 12 years as principal of Jesuit High School, has been named president of De La Salle High School in New Orleans.
“I am grateful, humbled, honored and excited to serve as president of De La Salle High School,” Giambelluca said. “Most especially, I am very much looking forward to working alongside all constituencies of our school community to build on the good work of our late president, Dr. Michael Guillot. I commend interim president, Dr. Myles Seghers, and all the members of the De La Salle school community for their commitment to maintain the spirited resurgence of De La Salle in academics, athletics, the arts, and in numerous other co-curricular activities.”
Giambelluca is a graduate of Jesuit High School and Tulane University with majors in Latin and philosophy. For two years, he taught and coached at Brother Martin and then earned a law degree from Tulane. He practiced law for a few years and then taught, coached and served as athletic director at St. Martin’s.
He was disciplinarian at Jefferson Community School for one year before serving as principal at Jesuit for 12 years. Before serving as principal at Christ the King from 2014-16, he was president for one year at Creighton Prep, the Jesuit high school in Omaha, Nebraska.
Giambelluca is proud to join De La Salle, a school whose graduates have successfully served with distinction in a myriad of occupations and endeavors both locally and globally for more than 65 years. He looks forward to building relationships as he navigates the “daily responsibilities of advancing and balancing the apostolic, pedagogical, community and business realities of De La Salle.”
“The unprecedented increase in student enrollment in the last four years is a testament to the reality of De La Salle as a truly welcoming and diverse community,” Giambelluca said. “It is a community that is committed to creating a ‘trusted place’ that enables students to flourish, a community that embraces creativity and innovation, and a community that is inspired by its Gospel mission to form leaders who will be light in a world too often clouded in darkness.”
➤ Thomas Moran, a graduate of Jesuit High School, has been named president of The Good Shepherd Nativity Mission School.
Moran earned his bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from Loyola University New Orleans, beginning his career at Deloitte as a CPA before deciding to embark on a new career in education.
Moran earned his certification and master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from the University of Holy Cross, starting out as a mathematics and religion teacher, moderator and coach and ultimately holding leadership positions as an assistant principal and principal.
At Archbishop Rummel High, Moran was part of the team that implemented a strategic planning and visioning process for the school. The committee’s work included reviewing Archbishop Rummel’s mission statement, overseeing a complete revision of school curriculum that ultimately increased the TOPS eligibility of students by more than 50 percent, and produced the first balanced financial budget in more than a decade. Moran also managed Archbishop Rummel’s fund-raising and communications efforts as the director of institutional advancement and worked to revamp the school’s financial aid process and work study program.
Outside of the classroom, Moran served as volunteer baseball coach in the Jefferson Parish Recreation Department for almost 30 years and was recognized in 2005 by Baseball America as the country’s Youth Coach of the Year.
In 2011, after 16 years in education, Moran returned to the corporate world and spent the next five years in positions including director of auditing at Stewart Enterprises, CFO of Adriatic Marine and business development director at Bourgeois Bennett. Last February, he returned to education as president of Good Shepherd Nativity Mission School, his current assignment.
His leadership team will include dean of students Don Boucree and dean of academics Dr. Christi Sumich.
“We will never legislate, police or solely educate our way out of poverty, injustice, prejudice and hopelessness – we will only truly tackle those by bringing the face of Jesus to every kid, in every neighborhood,” said Moran, alluding to the 15-year-old school, which provides a faith-based, tuition-free, year-round education to more than 100 low-income children. “The passionate people of The Good Shepherd School do that every day – it is now time to bring that passion and fire everywhere!”
➤ Jack Truxillo, president and chief executive officer of Cabrini High School, mostly recently served as associate superintendent in the Office of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. Truxillo has more than 38 years of educational experience in the public and Catholic school systems.
A graduate of Jesuit High School, Truxillo earned his bachelor of arts in secondary education social studies with a minor in special education and a master of education in administration from Loyola University.
He has professional certifications as a principal of elementary, special and secondary schools and in social studies and special education. He also has a lifetime Louisiana teacher certification.
His education career began in the Jefferson Parish middle and high school systems as a teacher, principal of Jefferson Parish summer schools and the special education extended school year program.
He was dean of students at John Quincy Adams Middle School and Jefferson Community School, the first charter school in Louisiana.
His alliance with Catholic school administration started when he was principal at St. Agnes Catholic School in Jefferson from 2000-05 and continued from 2005-12 as director of admissions for his alma mater, Jesuit High School.
“Serving in Catholic schools and in Catholic education, I have a belief in the importance of living out our mission and Gospel values and being
able to discuss our Catholic faith,” Truxillo said. “We are administrators in schools, but, at the heart of everything we do, we must always remember that ‘Catholicity’ of our responsibility as administrators. We are Catholic role models. I want to lend all the support I can for others to be Catholic educators. We can’t lose sight of our purpose as Catholic educators. Everything should be based in our faith.”
Truxillo said he had a strong sense of Cabrini’s founder, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini, the first American citizen saint, the moment he stepped on campus.
“She lived here and walked the grounds,” Truxillo said. “They say it is holy ground, and it’s true. You have a saint whose presence you feel. There’s that pride and sense of community. I knew I was in the right place to advance the mission of Cabrini.”
Truxillo plans to advance the Cabrini mission of developing young women in mind and heart who live the core values of respect, excellence and service in high school and throughout their lives.
➤ Annette Accomando, who grew up in the former St. Maurice Parish, will serve as principal of Our Lady of Prompt Succor School in Chalmette, the only Catholic school in St. Bernard civil parish.
She most recently served as vice president of academic and student affairs at Nunez Community College, where she was a founding faculty member.
Accomando attended Andrew Jackson High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in education, with a minor in English, from the University of New Orleans, and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from UNO. She is in the dissertation stage for a doctorate in higher education administration.
Accomando began her teaching career at Chalmette High School, where she taught English, and she also taught English as a second language (ESL) classes for the civil parish of St. Bernard. She later taught English, journalism, ESL and reading at St. Bernard Community College.
After Hurricane Katrina, she worked for the Lafayette Parish school system as dean of effectiveness and planning and later as dean of instruction and planning. During her tenure, the parish established the state’s first early college academy in which graduating high school seniors receive a high school diploma as well as a two-year associate’s degree.
That model has been brought to Nunez Community College, where students from Chalmette, Landry-Walker and McDonogh 35 high schools take an industrial arts curriculum and graduate with an associate’s degree.
All three of her children attended Our Lady of Prompt Succor School. Two of her children had reading challenges with dyslexia, but Accomando said her experience as a reading specialist and researcher helped her find new approaches to their learning. Both graduated from college and have embarked on successful careers as an architect and photographer.
“These children are highly intelligent – they just need to be taught differently,” Accomando said.
At Our Lady of Prompt Succor, where she serves the church as a lector, CCD teacher and Legion of Mary member, she hopes to build on the school’s “strong tradition” established by former principals Evelyn Kingston and Sharon Coll.
“This is a phenomenal school where people really work together,” Accomando said.
The school has grown steadily since Katrina with the revival of St. Bernard’s population.
“We had about 361 students last year, and right now we’re at the 380 mark,” she said. “It’s very exciting. I’d like to concentrate on growing the school. It’s not really about the numbers but about serving the community.”
➤ Anatalie Waddell Bachemin, a 1966 graduate of Xavier Preparatory School, has returned to her high school campus to lead St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School as interim principal. Her appointment was announced March 17 by the 5116 Magazine Street Corporation and the St. Katharine Drexel Preparatory School Board. She began her position June 1.
Bachemin holds a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision of instruction from Xavier University and certifications as supervisor of student teaching from the University of New Orleans and media and technology from the University of Southeastern Louisiana. She also has 35 years of experience as a Spanish and French teacher, former assistant principal and library media specialist in public schools.
She believes that “every child can learn and excel in school in the proper environment and with well-qualified teachers” and plans to reinstitute “Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives” to strengthen classroom teaching. Using this method, teachers move from teaching rote skills to advancing students to higher-level thinking and analytical skills. Her teachers attended workshops, conferences and in-services this summer.
Her volunteerism at the school and serving as two-term president of the Xavier Prep/St. Katharine Drexel Prep Alumni Association and board member made Bachemin well-acquainted with the school, and she intends to develop a more rigorous curriculum and move from a 90-minute block schedule to 75 minutes to allow time for a student activities period.
She was chair of the association’s annual scholarship fund-raiser “Remember When,” which raised $70,000 in 2016. Bachemin will remain co-chair of the scholarship fund. Ten students received academic and needs-based scholarships this school year.
Bachemin sees this academic year as a renaissance year at St. Katharine Drexel to “renew and revive” the strengths of Prep where students and teachers alike are expected to excel just as they did when she was a student.
“Xavier Prep has made me the person I am and gave me the morals I have had as a young person and adult,” Bachemin said. “All the nuns and teachers were excellent. They taught me that I should excel in everything I do and have high expectations of myself. This gave me confidence that I could do what I set out to do in life.”
➤ Heath Barker, who has served at Christian Brothers School for the last 13 years, has been named principal of Christian Brothers School’s St. Anthony Campus in Mid-City.
The St. Anthony Campus will offer coed instruction for students in grades pre-K4 through fourth. Grades 5-7 will be all-girls, with the boys transferring to the Christian Brothers School’s City Park Campus for grades 5-7.
“This venture has taken approximately two years to come to fruition,” Barker said. “As a result, seeing the amount of families and children who have chosen us to take care of the educational needs on the St. Anthony campus is overwhelming. Although there has been much preparation, I know there is always room to grow.”
Barker began his educational career teaching first grade at Good Shepherd Nativity Mission School in 2002. In the summer of 2002, he was hired at Christian Brothers School’s City Park Campus. In addition to his teaching duties, Barker has been an administrator at Christian Brothers School for six years.
Barker also has served as campus minister, director of federal programs and summer camp director. Barker has also has been a member of the District Mission and Ministry Council of the legacy District of New Orleans-Santa Fe and has represented the district as a member of the Regional Mission Formation Board.
Barker graduated in 2001 from the University of New Orleans with a bachelor of science degree in education and is a candidate at St. Mary’s College of California for a master’s degree in Lasallian Studies.
He is a graduate of the Lasallian Leadership Institute and the Buttimer Institute, both formation programs within the national network of Lasallian schools. He and his wife Tricia reside in Metairie with their two children, Samuel, 6, and Lorelei, 3.
“It is my hope that we create and maintain a community of educators and learners whose sole purpose is to use all the gifts given to them by God to be kind, loving Christians,” Barker said. “A central challenge is no different from what the rest of the world is experiencing right now – and that is to love one another as Jesus did. And I don’t just say that without any gravity. Without the ability to love one another, we are nowhere. Thus, the greatest challenge for us is to create a community where this love for one another is not only present, but also alive for others to see.”
➤ Leila Benoit, who served as assistant principal of academics from 2015-16 at Archbishop Chapelle High School in Metairie, advances to principal this year.
She was assistant principal of student affairs at Chapelle from 2014-15 and served as director of campus ministry and a theology and social studies teacher at Archbishop Hannan High School in Covington where she helped redevelop the campus ministry program after the school’s relocation to the northshore from Meraux.
At Chapelle, she sees a great campus ministry already in place and is blessed to have Father Christian Delerno, pastor at St. Mary Magdalen, on campus as chaplain.
“This year we are striving towards making the sacraments more readily available to our students and faculty, including offering daily Mass up to three times per week,” Benoit said.
She has a master’s degree in education from the University of Dayton and a bachelor’s in psychology from the College of Charleston.
Benoit is experienced in working with youth of all backgrounds, having served as a residential counselor at the United Methodist Children’s Home in Decatur, Georgia, and at Trinity Teen Solutions in Powell, Wyoming. She supervised and counseled at-risk youth living in a group home and in a Catholic residential wilderness program.
She said she plans to look toward obtaining Blue Ribbon status as new programs are implemented at Chapelle to increase the level of academic rigor.
“We are implementing a “writing across the curriculum” program … and a new and innovative method of evaluating teaching and learning in the classroom in order to drive our professional development program.”
Benoit has been involved with the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults team at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, served as co-chair of Our Lady of the Lake’s Festival of the Lake, and volunteered at the Cathedral of Christ the King Youth Group in Atlanta. She enjoys playing volleyball, participating in CrossFit and traveling, especially to hike portions of the Camino de Santiago in Spain.
“We are blessed to have amazing students, parents and faculty members who make Chapelle a huge family,” she said. “I am looking forward to continuing to foster this unique atmosphere, as well as raising the bar academically and helping to create an environment where the Catholic faith is evident in everything we do.”
➤ Julie Boyd will serve as interim Upper School Division Head of the Academy of the Sacred Heart for the upcoming school year. Boyd is a graduate of Mount Carmel Academy and Vanderbilt University, Peabody College.
Boyd has been teaching for the past 20 years, including the last 15 years at the Academy of the Sacred Heart. She has served in the Upper School as Social Studies teacher, AP teacher, Social Studies Department chair, National Honor Society advisor, Faculty Honor Council representative and Student Advisor.
After graduating from Vanderbilt, she taught at St. Mary’s Dominican High School and then at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in Houston.
“I am looking forward to a new and exciting school year based in faith, intellectual values, social awareness and community with the goal of helping each and every member of our community experience great personal growth,” Boyd said.
She said the professional experience at Sacred Heart has been fulfilling.
“It’s been a true pleasure to work here in such a collaborative and supportive environment,” Boyd said. “We have great students. It’s been a true pleasure to serve in all of my capacities.”
The Upper School, which encompasses grade 9-12, will introduce this year a new AP Environmental Science class and a computer coding class, which will teach students how to write back-end code.
“We’ve also been enhancing our Fine Arts program,” Boyd said. “Students now can choose among music, drama, dance and an assortment of visual arts. One of our goals is to create well-rounded students who have the opportunity to see what they enjoy. Giving them greater opportunities will provide that.”
Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Sister Anna Bui takes the helm this academic year as principal of Our Lady of Prompt Succor School in Westwego.
Sister Anna professed her vows to be a Salesian Sister of Don Bosco 40 years ago. She said the Salesian mission has always been centered on children: to educate the young, most especially the poorest youth, to know, to happily serve God in this life and to enjoy and to contemplate him in the life to come.
“I can proudly say that I have been committed to Catholic education, dedicated to educating the youth academically and spiritually, instilling Gospel and human values to serve others in the tradition of ‘Salesian Preventive System’ of St. John Bosco, using reason, religion and loving-kindness. These are my mission and also goals for the year.”
She said she adheres to the motto of her order’s founder, Don Bosco, who said: “Da Mihi Animas, Coetera Tolle” which translates to “Give Me Souls, Take Away the Rest.”
Vietnamese by birth, Sister Anna earned a bachelor’s degree at St. Paul College of Manila in the Philippines, a master’s degree in leadership at the University of San Francisco and has a teaching credential and master’s degree in general education from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
She has 25 years of teaching experience and 15 years of being a principal in various schools in the archdioceses of San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Sister Anna says she might be new to New Orleans, but she is ready to jump into her new assignment at Our Lady of Prompt Succor.
She said she would work closely and collaboratively with the school’s administration, other Salesian sisters, faculty, staff and parents to educate the youth to become “honest citizens of society, and good Christians of God’s kingdom.
“I am now ready to serve,” Sister Anna said. “Here I am, Lord. You called me!”
➤ Laura DeLaneuville, a New Orleans native who served as assistant principal at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Norco for the last two years, has been named principal for the 2016-17 academic year.
An educator since 2000, DeLaneuville earned her teaching certification in special education (mild/moderate) from the University of New Orleans. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and minor in sociology from UNO and a juris doctor from Loyola University New Orleans School of Law.
Since 2003, DeLaneuville, a graduate of St. Lawrence the Martyr School and Archbishop Chapelle High, has taught English, reading, literature, social studies and Spanish at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Norco, filling a dual role as the school’s assistant principal for the last two years.
DeLaneuville, a Sacred Heart alumna, and her husband Artie have served their parish as youth ministers for eight years, placing a special focus on the needs of hungry and homeless who seek shelter at Ozanam Inn.
“It is an honor and a blessing to be named as interim principal of Sacred Heart of Jesus School and to represent this parish – my parish – in this capacity,” DeLaneuville said. “My mission is to continue our commitment of academic excellence and Catholic identity, providing child-centered education based on faith, tradition and high academic standards founded on the values and teachings of Christ and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.”
DeLaneuville said Sacred Heart’s “strong sense of family” pervades the school of grades pre-K2 through 7, noting that many teachers come to campus during the summer break without being asked to clean and upgrade their workspaces and hone classroom strategies. She said the school’s strengths include a small student-teacher ratio and a curriculum that integrates fine arts, music, drama and foreign language. This fall, French will be added to the middle school offerings.
“I look forward to furthering the commitment of faith, family, and community in our parish as we continue Jesus’ mission and ministry in educating our children,” DeLaneuville said. “Our dedicated faculty, staff, parents and community are committed to maintaining a quality Catholic education that integrates Catholic doctrine and faith throughout the curriculum, while providing a child-centered education to our students and helping each student reach his or her full potential.”
➤ Deacon Lawrence Houston, who served as St. Peter Claver School’s vice principal and a teacher for the past 13 years, has been named principal of the school for the 2016-17 academic year.
A graduate of Catholic schools in St. Louis, Missouri, Deacon Houston attended St. Matthew Elementary and Cardinal Ritter College Prep High before coming to New Orleans to pursue a degree in music at Xavier University of Louisiana.
In 1990, he earned a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance, returning to his alma mater to complete a master’s degree in elementary education, with a concentration in elementary principalship.
Deacon Houston spent a year at this first teaching post and current assignment – St. Peter Claver in New Orleans – teaching seventh grade homeroom and math before teaching at St. Monica School for six years. Deacon Houston returned to teach at St. Peter Claver in 1998, serving as a homeroom teacher for fifth and eighth grades and a middle school math and technology teacher.
His service to St. Peter Claver was enriched in 2010 when he was ordained a permanent deacon and assigned to his beloved parish. Deacon Houston and his “soulmate,” Erica Nealy Houston, married in 1990 and are the parents of two children – Kyle and Kayla.
“Our mission lies in our Catholicity and evangelization,” Deacon Houston said. “I think for a parent to know there is someone who is ordained in the school’s leadership role really helps to solidify what that mission is. It helps them to see that our faith runs deep, that this is important for us.”
Deacon Houston said he is especially excited to lead St. Peter Claver School as it celebrates 95 years in the city’s Treme neighborhood.
“The founding of the school was by the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament under St. Katharine Drexel,” Deacon Houston noted. “It has a rich history and a rich legacy within the community. It’s a parish-based school and it’s a multi-generational school. We say that we are a family, and we try to live that out.”
“Our motto is ‘Educating the Whole Child’ – something we do well!”
➤ Rosie Kendrick, an 11-year veteran of teaching and native of New Orleans, has been named principal of St. Stephen School in New Orleans.
She was educated at Our Lady of the Rosary School and the Academy of Holy Angels, a member of the latter’s final graduating class of 1992. She earned an associate’s degree in early education from Delgado Community College, a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of New Orleans and a master’s degree in elementary education from Grand Canyon University.
Kendrick taught at a local private school before being hired as a first-grade teacher at St. Frances Cabrini in 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina struck. After a post-Katrina period based in Atlanta, Kendrick returned to New Orleans in 2008 to teach at St. Stephen, teaching a variety of subjects to fourth, fifth and seventh graders. She became the school’s vice principal in 2014.
Kendrick said her passion for education – and its capacity to better the lives of students – is best summarized in an observation offered by late Louisiana educator William Arthur Ward: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
“In my new position, I will demonstrate to the students and staff the importance of education and passion,” Kendrick said. “I begin the day with a smile and a hello to every parent, student and teacher. Every child is told, ‘You are fabulous!’ I pray that their day will be rewarding and prosperous. I believe that education is not just a job; it is a necessity.”
Kendrick said she and her staff will promote their students’ appreciation for the importance of education by allowing them to assist with the planning of school activities and projects.
“Education should be engaging,” she said. “When I was a student I couldn’t sit down; I couldn’t keep still. One of the problems I had in school was because I had to sit there and be quiet. I think this generation of students needs to speak, think and be involved in their education.
“No one says it better them Benjamin Franklin,” Kendrick said. “‘Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.’”
➤ Kimberlie Kilroy, a native of Slidell, has been named the new principal of St. Catherine of Siena School (SCS) in Metairie.
Kilroy’s faith formation was cultivated at St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Slidell. As a young adult, she pursued a degree in education and received a bachelor’s degree in music education and a K-12 teaching certificate from the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
After completing her undergraduate work, Kilroy began to work for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Seattle. She completed her master’s degree in educational administration with a principal certification from Seattle University.
She has served in Catholic education for eight years, three as the principal of Immaculate Conception and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Everett, Washington. Kilroy said the Holy Spirit has influenced her Catholic school ministry.
She also was influenced by the words of St. John Paul II at World Youth Day in 2000: “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Kilroy said she was “excited to continue to grow and share my knowledge, wisdom and experience with the community of St. Catherine of Siena School.”
“In partnership with the faculty, staff, school parents and parishioners, I look forward to encouraging the students of SCS to exceed academic expectations and cultivate a school climate that is deeply rooted with God’s love, grace and mercy,” Kilroy said.
➤ Cheryl Orillion, who has served for many years as a teacher and principal in Catholic schools of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, has been named principal of Holy Rosary School, which serves students in grades K-12 with different learning styles.
Orillion has been a lifetime resident of the Greater New Orleans area. She attended St. Cecilia School and Holy Angels Academy and received a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of Holy Cross.
She was a teacher and assistant principal at St. Louise de Marillac School in Arabi and St. Matthew the Apostle School in River Ridge before serving as principal of St. Benilde School in Metairie and Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Norco.
She also served as assistant superintendent of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. She is a member of the Special Needs Committee convened by Dr. Jan Lancaster, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of New Orleans.
She and her husband have three adult sons, and two are Catholic high school teachers.
“I strongly believe in the mission of Catholic education for every child and family who desire it,” Orillion said. “It is important that the strong tradition of Catholic education continues as it serves as an instrument for spreading the Gospel values throughout our society.”
Orillion said the mission of Holy Rosary School is “to work with children who have difficulties in the way they can learn so that they can experience success.”
“Our curriculum is still the same curriculum, but the child’s learning style dictates the style of teaching and what the approach is,” Orillion said. “Our school serves a definite need, and hopefully the children can leave us with the skills and everything they need to be successful in their next level of education.”
Orillion said Holy Rosary School fits in seamlessly with the “movement” within the Office of Catholic schools to help students with various learning styles or special needs.
“When a parent has a child with a different learning style, sometimes it fits into a box, and unfortunately, education does, too,” Orillion said. “Parents usually don’t have the background that educators do, and they need someone with them on that journey.”
➤ Michael Prat, a teacher and administrator at Christian Brothers School for the last 11 years, has been named principal of Christian Brothers School’s City Park campus.
Prat began his educational career at Christian Brothers School in New Orleans in 2001. In addition, he was director of Lasallian Programs for the Legacy District of New Orleans-Santa Fe of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.
As an administrative team member at Christian Brothers, he has overseen the development office, curriculum and academics, special student and faculty programs, and discipline.
After graduating from Jesuit High School, Prat earned an undergraduate degree in secondary education from the University of South Alabama and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of New Orleans.
He also graduated from the Buttimer Institute of Lasallian Studies and the Lasallian Leadership Institute, both formation programs within the national network of Lasallian schools. Prat is an alumnus of Christian Brothers School. He is married and has four children.
“I am looking forward to continuing the 56-year legacy of the Christian Brothers in City Park by helping our young men reach their fullest potential as Christian gentlemen,” Prat said.
Prat will oversee boy students in grades 5-7 at the City Park campus.
“I’m most excited to see our students grow up and mature,” Prat said. “I love working with this age group and seeing them make their way in the world and figuring out who they are and trying to find their place in society.”
Christian Brothers School is adding a STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) called Project Lead the Way, which is a problem-based, hands-on approach to science.
“We love being creative and thinking outside the box,” Prat said. “We’re trying to provide the state-of-the-art, cutting edge programs that can give our kids the best possible education we can provide.”
The school also will have a new afterschool, academic- assistance program.
➤ Darnell “Dawn” Swear, a native of New Orleans, has been named the new principal of Christ the King School in Terrytown.
Swear earned her bachelor’s degree in business management at the University of Maryland’s “Asian Division” satellite campus in Subic Bay, Philippines, the naval air station at which her husband was stationed.
Years later, as an in-home mother volunteering and substitute teaching at her son’s school of Christ the King in Terrytown, Swear heard a calling to teaching.
“I started volunteering in the cafeteria, the library and the classroom. I got hooked being in the classroom, being around the kids, being in a school setting, so I went back to school to get certified.”
Swear received her teacher’s certification at Our Lady of Holy Cross College (now the University of Holy Cross), also earning a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in 2002.
Swear officially began her teaching career at Christ the King in 1998, working for six years as a third-grade teacher. In 2007, after a three-year absence to teach fourth grade in the Jefferson Parish Public School System, she returned to teach at Christ the King, taking on a dual role as
“I am also a extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and feel honored to serve at our Thursday school Masses,” said Swear, who also will be among the ministers distributing holy Communion at Christ the King Church’s Sunday family Mass each month.
“I have had the privilege to work with the best faculty and staff under the direction of a very supportive pastor, Father Michael Nam, along with supportive and dedicated parent groups,” Swear said, adding her excitement at welcoming some new faculty members and a new school board to the Christ the King School family.
She said Christ the King’s “family atmosphere” is palpable.
“When you walk in the school office, you get hugs,” she said. “This is my family here. Everybody supports everybody. The kids are loved. They come in and out of the office for hugs and not because they’re in trouble. We have an open door policy!”
➤ Patti Waddell, who has an extensive background in early childhood education and school improvement, has been named principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Kenner.
Waddell’s professional career began more than 27 years ago in the Jefferson Parish Public School System, beginning with 10-year period as a prekindergarten teacher and teacher-leader at Catherine Strehle Elementary, where she later served as principal for eight years.
“During my tenure as principal, I obtained several arts grants for the school and collaborated with the local community church to organize yearly school supply drives for many of the students,” Waddell said.
Waddell also served as instructional strategist for Jefferson Parish Schools’ prekindergarten program for several years before being promoted to the pre-K coordinator position, responsible for writing, obtaining and managing grants, doubling the size of the district’s pre-K program and supervising the pre-K staff. During this period, Waddell also was an adjunct early childhood instructor at Delgado Community College.
Waddell retired from the Jefferson Parish School System in June 2012 with more than 23 years of experience. She began teaching pre-kindergarten at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Kenner in 2012 and was promoted two years later to assistant principal and curriculum coordinator.
Waddell earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UNO, a master’s of science degree in counseling from Loyola University and a “Master’s +30” teaching certificate from Southeastern Louisiana University, gaining certification in educational leadership. In 2011, she completed the Louisiana School Turnaround Specialist Program at Xavier University, an invitation-only continuing education opportunity.
“This program focused on improving my leadership skills in the area of school improvement and provided tools to assist me in raising the school’s annual test scores,” said Waddell, a fellow of the School Leadership Center since 2008.
“Our Lady of Perpetual Help l Parish is near and dear to my heart,” said Waddell a parishioner since 1994 and a lector since 2003. “I am excited about this opportunity to serve as the school’s moral, spiritual and academic leader. I look forward to working collaboratively with our school’s families, teachers, staff and parish community as well as using my training in school improvement and previous leadership experience to transform our school into one of excellence.”
➤ Kirsch Wilberg returns to New Orleans as principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) in Belle Chasse after spending a decade in educational leadership in Texas. She was most recently principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School in Selma, Texas, and interim principal/assistant principal at St. Peter Prince of the Apostles in San Antonio.
“I am so happy to be home,” Wilberg said.
Being hired at Our Lady of Perpetual Help was fortuitous. Wilberg mentioned to a friend she was moving back, and Our Lady of Perpetual Help School was recommended for two of her three children before the job opening for principal was available. Her eldest daughter will attend her alma mater, Mount Carmel Academy.
“It was all God’s divine intervention,” she said of the timing, adding her family remains in Louisiana, her husband’s job was ripe for a move and her daughter wanted to attended a Louisiana college.
Wilberg is thrilled to lead OLPH through its accreditation process with input from parents, parishioners and stakeholders about the school’s future.
“The accreditation is a great opportunity for us to really explore the school so that when we create the school improvement plan, we have a place to go,” she said. “When we move forward, we’re moving forward on solid ground.”
Wilberg has a master of arts degree in educational leadership with a focus on Catholic school leadership from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She seeks to empower teachers with professional development opportunities and create a structured student support process, as well as add a new spring gala.
“I see my employment as a ministry – to give back to the Catholic Church,” she said. “In Catholic education, we’re teaching the whole child, and I’m not just talking social skills and values, but the religious aspect. My Catholic religion is not just something I do on Sunday. It is infused in everything I do and should be imbued in what we teach our students” no matter what the situation, from the current racial tension in the country to science.
“If we talk about it from a Catholic standpoint – of being merciful and how it relates to our religion – kids have a better understanding of and foundation in their faith,” she said.