As school year begins, new principals to focus on 'intellectual, moral and spiritual growth' of students

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PROVIDENCE — “When I think about this team of new principals in our schools, I’m beyond optimistic for Catholic education in our diocese,” Superintendent of Rhode Island Catholic Schools Daniel Ferris said. With this positive and enthusiastic outlook for the upcoming year, the Diocese of Providence welcomes six new principals to continue the mission of educating the whole child — mind, heart and spirit.

“The children in their schools will directly benefit from their exceptional leadership and talent,” said Ferris. “These are good — really good — educators. I’ve worked with some of them personally and others I’ve known by reputation before they stepped into their current principal role. We’re blessed, very blessed.”

As the product of lifelong Catholic education, Jessica Walters, principal of Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Bristol firmly believes in the mission of Catholic schools here in Rhode Island.

“I am excited to help OLMC continue to look to the future and find new ways to blend the best of the traditions of the past with new opportunities that advancement in technology and our understanding of best educational practices can bring,” she said.

At Mercymount Country Day School in Cumberland, Susan Morrissey has been named principal by the Board of Trustees and ratified by MESA (Mercy Education System of America).

Morrissey comes to Mercymount with more than 20 years of experience leading independent schools. Most recently, she worked in California’s Silicon Valley leading a small Catholic school to recognition as one of the most innovative in the country according to the National Catholic Educational Association’s Momentum magazine. She is well-known for her work in bringing math, science, engineering and coding to new heights with creative program design and teacher development.

“It was clear to the Board of Trustees early on in the hiring process that Susan had the experience and energy level we felt was needed for this exciting and rewarding position,” said Brian Lynch, chairperson of the Board of Trustees. “We look forward to working with Susan and anticipate a great future for Mercymount.”

Mary-Regina Bennett, the new principal of Woodlawn Catholic Regional School in Pawtucket, shared that she looks forward to advancing the school’s mission of providing the diverse multicultural community with the very best staff and curriculum which fosters students’ intellectual, moral and spiritual growth.

“This growth will occur while teaching each child the importance of using their gifts to serve their family, church and the greater community. This year we are looking forward to integrating STEAM initiatives into our curriculum and using our technology to ensure all are students are 21st century learners,” Bennett explained. “I am very excited to be working in this loving learning community.”

Erin Clark feels honored to have been appointed principal of St. Joseph School in West Warwick. She shared that one of the goals for the school this year is to continue to implement a blended learning model in classroom instructional practices. Blended learning, a program that combines small group instruction from the teacher, individualized learning through technology and collaborative learning with peers, lets students learn best at their own pace and in their own way.

“This hybridization truly prepares students for the demands of high school and beyond,” said Clark. “I am excited to contribute to the school’s long tradition of academic excellence and faith formation and to position St. Joseph’s for the future.”

Maurice (Mo) Guernon, principal at Sacred Heart in East Providence, began his educational career in a Catholic school and is excited to be back in a family school culture that encourages students as individuals to put into practice each day the Good News of the Gospels. This year he hopes to help expand extra-curricular opportunities, boost enrollment and acquire additional technology and equipment with the help of a vigorous campaign for financial contributions.

“I am thrilled to be principal of Sacred Heart School, a century-old institution of learning that provides sterling academics in a strong community of faith,” Guernon said, noting that among his major goals was to increase the school’s visibility. “These are exciting times for our entire school community.”

On the Catholic high school level, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin appointed Mark DeCiccio as principal of Bishop Hendricken High School, which serves more than 900 students in grades 8-12.

This school year, DeCiccio shared that he will be working closely with the administrative team to achieve goals of the Warwick school’s strategic plan, looking closely at curriculum, schedule and technology. DeCiccio, 2003 graduate of Bishop Hendricken, is proud to be back in this new role.

“Being the principal at Bishop Hendricken High School is a great responsibility, it is a great privilege and it is an honor to lead this amazing community,” said DeCiccio. It is a dream come true to be back at my alma mater guiding the next generation of Hawks.”