New Principals Prepare to Take Helms of Diocesan Schools

Eleven new principals are slated to staff diocesan schools as the 2007-08 academic year gets under way in the Arlington Diocese. These school CEOs gathered last week to orient themselves to their new positions and to one another at a daylong retreat at the Benedictine Pastoral Center in Bristow.
"You have the most important position in education," said Dr. Timothy McNiff, diocesan superintendent of schools. "It is the principalship, not the superintendancy, that makes education work."
This is a year of acquainting themselves with the schools, parents and students, the new principals said. Upholding the strong values and traditions of the schools is also a common goal, they added. No matter what, McNiff said, the job of the principal is to "make your school the Catholic school that we all hope to send our kids to."
Four of the 11 new principals have previous experience leading schools in the diocese, two have taught at diocesan schools and the remaining five are brand new to the area.
David J. DiPippa, principal of St. Leo the Great School in Fairfax; Louis Frisenda, principal of Holy Family School in Dale City; and Edward Hoffman, principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Warrenton, all switched positions this year after serving as principals of other schools. Rebecca McTavish, principal of Sacred Heart Academy in Winchester, is reprising her role as principal of Sacred Heart, a job she held in the mid-'90s.
DiPippa brings to St. Leo six years of experience as principal of St. Luke School in McLean, as well as a bachelor's degree in history from Catholic University in Washington and a master's degree in education administration from George Mason University in Fairfax. DiPippa served as an educator in Maryland and Norfolk before taking a job at Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, where he taught and served as assistant principal for teacher personnel, 1986-2001. In 2001, he was named principal of St. Luke.
Frisenda earned bachelors' degrees in philosophy and theology, and a master's degree in applied theology from Wheeling Jesuit University; he has a master's degree in Catholic School Leadership from Marymount University in Arlington. Before moving to Northern Virginia, Frisenda taught in Ohio and Maryland. Once in Northern Virginia, Frisenda worked  as assistant head of school for academics at Notre Dame Academy in Middleburg, 1998-2003, assistant principal at St. Mary School in Alexandria, 2003-04; interim principal, 2004-05; and principal 2005-07.
Hoffman received his undergraduate degree in social studies and education from Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., and earned a master's degree in school administration from McDaniel University in Westminster, Md. He has taught in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., before most recently serving as associate head and principal of Notre Dame Academy.
The role of principal at Sacred Heart is a familiar one to McTavish as she occupied that position from 1994-96, after teaching at the school from 1986-91. She also taught at Paw Paw Elementary School in Paw Paw, W. Va., and Winchester City Schools in Winchester from 1979-80. McTavish holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master's degree in social foundations of education from the University of Virginia. Before returning to Sacred Heart, McTavish worked as a business relations consultant, and in sales and marketing.
Mary Baldwin, principal of St. Veronica School in Chantilly, Elizabeth Poole, principal of Linton Hall School in Bristow, and Sister Maria Goretti, principal of St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School in Woodbridge, all have experience teaching at other diocesan schools, as well as those they are currently leading.
Baldwin is taking the helm of St. Veronica after teaching at the rapidly growing school for the past year. Prior to arriving at the school, Baldwin taught fifth- and eighth-grades at St. Andrew the Apostle School in Clifton, 2000-06. A native of Duluth, Minn., Baldwin was educated in Northern Virginia, earning a bachelor's degree of individualized studies from George Mason University in Fairfax in 1999 and a master's degree in education and Catholic School Leadership from Marymount this May.
Poole has been affiliated with Linton Hall School since 1981 when she used to travel from her native England to be a staff counselor and swim teacher for the school's summer camps. Poole did most of her schooling abroad, receiving her bachelor's degree in education and movement studies from the University of Kent and her teacher certificate from the University of Exeter. She received a master's degree in elementary school counseling from George Mason University in Fairfax in 1991, after which she worked as a counselor. She was hired for a part-time position at Linton Hall in 1994 and named assistant principal of St. John School in Warrenton, 1999-2006. Poole also taught elementary school in London and Virginia.
Being principal at Aquinas will be like a homecoming for Dominican Sister Maria Goretti Baker who spent a year teaching at the Woodbridge school in 1997. Sister Maria Goretti entered the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia (the Nashville Dominicans) in August 1991, after which she earned a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn., in 1996, and a master's degree in educational leadership from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tenn., in 2003. She taught in Virginia, Ohio and Tennessee and before taking on the role of principal at St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Atlanta since 2004.
Dominican Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, principal of the new diocesan high school in Cherry Hill, Janet Cantwell, principal of St. Mary School in Alexandria, Patrick J. Hanus, principal at Our Lady of Hope School in Potomac Falls, and Renee White, principal of St. Luke School in McLean, are first-time teachers in the diocese.
Sister Mary Jordan holds a bachelor's degree in secondary education and social studies from Millersville University of Pennsylvania; a master's degree in educational administration and leadership from Northwestern University of Louisiana; a partially completed degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; and catechetical certification from the Diocese of Nashville. Before entering the convent, she taught global studies, world geography, sociology and psychology at Northeastern High School, Manchester, Pa., from 1990-91. Since becoming a Dominican, her assignments have included assistant principal and teacher, St. Cecilia Academy, Nashville, Tenn., 1991-92 and 1993-97; teacher, St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School, Woodbridge, 1997-98; principal, St. Mary Star of the Sea School, Hampton, Va., 1998-2000; principal, St. Vincent de Paul School, Denver, Colo., 2000-03; and teacher, John Carroll Catholic High School, Birmingham, Ala., 2003-04. Since 2004, Sister Mary Jordan has served as principal of St. Henry School in Nashville.
Cantwell earned her undergraduate degree in microbiology and completed coursework in early childhood education at the University of Maryland. She also earned a master's degree in Catholic leadership from Catholic University in 2001. The Baltimore native has taught at elementary and middle schools throughout the Archdiocese of Washington. She has served as principal of St. Bernard School in Riverdale Park, Md., 1999-2003, and most recently at St. Bernadette School in Silver Spring, Md.
Hanus earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and a master's degree in educational leadership from the University Western New Mexico Gallup. Hanus taught elementary, middle and high school in Nicaragua and New Mexico. He served as assistant principal of Gallup Catholic School in Gallup, N.M., 2001-03, and principal of St. Mary's School of Piscataway in Clinton, Md., 2003-06.
White received her bachelor's degree in education from Purdue University and a master's degree in educational leadership from Florida Institute of Technology. Prior to moving to Virginia, the Boston native served as principal at Our Lady of Lourdes in Melbourne, Fla., as well as on the Diocesan Principal Evaluation Committee, Professional Development and Synod Schools Commission. Her teaching experience includes Melbourne High School, Melbourne Central Catholic High School and Ascension Catholic School. White takes over leadership of St. Luke School from DiPippa. Gretchen R. Crowe can be reached at

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