O'Connell's Katy Prebble resigns

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Kathleen "Katy" Prebble, president of Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School in Arlington, announced Feb. 11 that she will not return to the school next year.

"In the past two and a half years, while serving as president, Katy has served the school, the diocese and Catholic education well," said Sister Bernadette McManigal, diocesan superintendent of schools.

"A long list of accomplishments is directly attributable to Katy's leadership," she said.

The most visible examples include remodeled science labs, the addition of a global studies program, attractive and safe athletic fields, dual enrollment courses with Marymount, new seats in the school auditorium and the addition of pre-engineering courses in the curriculum.

"Katy was tireless in her zeal for the students and faculty at Bishop O'Connell High School," Sister Bernadette said. "Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde joins me in thanking Katy for her service and in wishing her well in her next endeavors."

Prebble took over for former O'Connell President Barry Breen July 6, 2010. Prior to coming to O'Connell, Prebble served as president of Mount de Sales Academy in Macon, Ga., a college preparatory school operated under the guidance of the Sisters of Mercy.

Prebble was new to O'Connell and Northern Virginia, but not to the Washington 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 moved back to the D.C. area to be closer to family.

At O'Connell, Prebble was 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.

"The 1,200 students who grace the halls of our school every day are a remarkable and diverse group of young men and women eager to establish themselves as the leaders of tomorrow," Prebble said in a statement released by the school. "I will miss them dearly as well as the dedicated faculty and staff who work incredibly hard to guide them through these wonderful and exciting high school years."

Prebble said she is enthusiastic about the school's strategic plan and its initial efforts to create a facility master site plan.

"The next few months will be busy as we work diligently to strengthen our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program and plan the addition of our second engineering course," she said. "Our STEM curriculum continues to grow, and O'Connell is set to become one of only two private high schools in the greater Washington DC area to offer a Project Lead the Way school curriculum in engineering."

Prebble said she has been inspired by O'Connell's spirit and traditions and that she is a better person for being guided by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

"Many of you may know that years ago Mother Teresa visited O'Connell and spoke to our students," she said. "Her message of love and compassion continues to fill the heart of our community. I will faithfully serve our community over the next few months and wish only the best for O'Connell. It is always a great day to be a Knight."

In addition to her accomplishments, Prebble faced numerous challenges during her brief tenure at the Arlington school.

The sudden disappearance of former teacher Tom Duesterhaus in June 2011 left the school community in shock. Varsity football coach Steve Trimble died suddenly in July 2011. Former O'Connell principal Al Burch died in October 2011. And varsity baseball coach Rick Hart announced his retirement in October 2012.

No decision has been made as to when the diocese will begin its search for Prebble's replacement.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013