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Arlington Bishop O'Connell
New president named for O’Connell
Though most recently from Georgia, Kathleen Ryan Prebble is no stranger to the D.C. area.
Gretchen R. Crowe | Catholic Herald
Courtesy Photo
O'Connell's new president Kathleen Preeble.

Students at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington will have a new face to welcome as classes begin this fall. After a six-month search by a committee including members of O’Connell’s board of governors, parents, alumni and diocesan officials, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde recently named Kathleen Ryan Prebble, 58, as the school’s new president.

“A model of scholastic achievement and Catholic identity, Bishop O’Connell High School has been blessed with strong leadership since its foundation in 1957,” said Bishop Loverde. “I welcome Kathleen Ryan Prebble, and I am confident that O’Connell will benefit from her direction and guidance.”

Hailing from her most recent position as president of Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Ga., a college preparatory school operated under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy, Prebble will be new to O’Connell and to Northern Virginia, but not to the Washington, D.C. area.

A 1974 graduate of Catholic University in Washington, Prebble spent three decades working in Catholic education in Maryland schools. After eight years at Mount de Sales, Prebble said she’s ready to get back to her family near Washington. And, she said, she’s excited about diving into everything O’Connell has to offer.

“I’m exited to go to O’Connell because it has had a really strong place in the community,” she said. “It’s in a diocese that’s very supportive of Catholic education.”

When visiting the school, Prebble said, she was struck by the “happy students” on the school’s campus. She is looking forward to getting to know this community of students, faculty and staff, and she sees that as her No. 1 priority.

“My first job will be to learn and understand what the O’Connell experience is and to really get my hands around and embrace what makes O’Connell unique and special,” she said.

Prebble’s first official day of work is July 6. She succeeds former O’Connell President Barry Breen, who resigned at the end of this past academic year after five years as president.

Prebble has many years of experience as a Catholic educator, including positions as a teacher, dean of students and an assistant head of school. In her eight years at Mount de Sales, she completed capital campaigns that resulted in new and renovated facilities, established endowments for faculty and student programs, and increased tuition assistance by more than 600 percent.

Prebble also reincorporated the sixth grade into the middle school, established an after-school program, and increased professional development budgets and participation by more than 50 percent. As a result of her efforts, the school received dual accreditation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools in 2007, has produced the largest number of National Merit semifinalists in any private or public school in middle Georgia since 2003 and won the Civic Education Award in 2006.

As O’Connell president, Prebble will be the highest-ranking administrator at the school and responsible for maintaining the school’s Catholic identity, developing and executing a long-term strategic plan, directing marketing and public relations efforts and monitoring facilities as well as financial development programs.

Believing herself a lifelong learner, Prebble said she is looking forward to continuing to grow her passion for Catholic education at O’Connell.

“I’ve spent my entire professional life in Catholic education and I have a tremendous passion for it,” she said. “I like the ability to be in a place whose whole purpose is success for students and to be able to help them develop the skills and the relationships that will ultimately make them successful in this world. It’s very rewarding.”

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