Diocesan staff retirements, important information shared at principals’ professional day

Catholic school principals participate in an activity during the Sept. 27 professional day. Staff photo


By Mary Stadnyk | Correspondent

Catholic school principals from around the Diocese were met with a blend of important news and pertinent information that will assist them in their roles as leaders in education during a professional day held Sept. 27 in St. Ann School, Lawrenceville.

Two high points of the morning included an address by Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., who thanked the principals for their service to their schools and the Diocese, and reminded them of the importance of continuously promoting Catholic identity in all facets of their ministry. The principals also learned that two long-standing staff members in the diocesan Department of Catholic Schools were retiring.

JoAnn Tier, who started her work in the Office of Catholic Schools in 2000 but has served in her current position superintendent of Catholic Schools since 2009, will retire June 30. Dr. Margaret Boland, who is in her 24th year as associate superintendent, will retire Dec. 31, but will then continue on in a part-time capacity until June 30.

Elements for Catholic School Success

Bishop O’Connell began his talk by stressing the two critical elements in the life of any organization –identity and mission.

“In other words, ‘who you are’ and ‘what you do,’” he said. “The health and integrity of any organization can be determined by demonstrating that its mission flows from identity. In understanding identity at its deepest level you not only get a sense of ‘who’ but you also get a sense of motivation – the ‘why’ of the organization.

Bishop O’Connell cautioned that when an organization acts in a way that is contrary to its identity, it can cause an organization to break down and unravel.  However, “When identity and mission are in balance, there is a much stronger argument for an organization’s success,” he said.

“It is the administrators of our Catholic schools who must lead the charge!” the Bishop said. “To do so, the administrator must understand and believe in the Catholic identity of the school; must see its mission determined, supported and motivated by its Catholic identity; must lead the school effectively – its faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni and benefactors – toward the accomplishment of its mission, and, must motivate his/her collaborators in the process of institutional assessment or evaluation so that everyone will recognize that the school is what it says it is, does what it says it does and is excellent at both.”

Effective Diocesan Leaders

Discussing their pending retirements, both Tier and Boland were most animated about their passion for Catholic education.

“Catholic education is very important. It is tied to the whole Church because it provides a premiere education in a faith-based environment,” said Boland, a member of St. Luke Parish, Toms River, who has enjoyed more than 50 years in the education field, working in the public and Catholic school sectors. Prior to joining the Department of Catholic Schools staff, she had served as principal of St. Benedict, School, Holmdel.

Tier, as well, has more than 50 years of experience serving at all levels of education including as a public school English teacher and then 14 years in All Saints School, Burlington, teaching for four years from 1986 to 1990, and then serving as principal from 1990 until she joined the Chancery staff in 2000.

Tier, who is a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Moorestown, said she is “on fire knowing that Catholic education can provide the best opportunity for kids to grow spiritually, to come to know God, receive an exceptional academic education and learn to believe in themselves.

“Catholic education is a combination of Catholic faith and academic excellence that provides fertile ground for kids to grow,” she said, “and I love to see that.”

Other highlights of the day included a presentation on personnel issues by Joseph Bianchi, diocesan chief administrative officer; Christine Prete, from the diocesan Development Department, who spoke on Giving Tuesday, and a three-part presentation by Michael Coppotelli, associate superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of New York, who reviewed with the principals ways in which Catholic schools can benefit from different government programs and helpful hints on how to use the money efficiently.

Positive Feedback

Tracey Kobrin, principal of St. Peter School, Point Pleasant Beach, reflected on how the annual Professional Day provides an opportunity for principals to learn together and share ideas. Noting how meaningful it was for Bishop O’Connell to take the time to address the principals and thank them for our their leadership in Catholic education, Kobrin said, “His leadership in the Diocese of Trenton and his love of and steadfast support for Catholic schools inspires us as we fulfill our mission as Catholic school leaders and educators.”

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