New principal, new era at Bishop Ireton

First slide

About to embark on a capital campaign to expand its infrastructure, Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria welcomes new principal Denise Tobin to expand its academic programs.

Unlike her recent predecessors, Tobin did not graduate from Ireton; in fact, she moved to Northern Virginia to accept the position. After earning a bachelor's in biology from Stockton State College in Pomona, N.J., she received her teaching certification from Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pa., and earned her master's in education administration from the University of Scranton. Tobin taught for 15 years at St. John Neumann Regional Academy High School in Williamsport and then transferred to administrative work for eight years.

For a long time, though, she said she had hoped to move to the greater Washington area to be closer to her children. So, when she learned of the position at Ireton, she immediately was enticed.

"Teaching at a Catholic school (is) much like a vocation," she said.

The first woman principal in Ireton history, Tobin has been a trailblazer before: She was the first lay woman to serve as principal at St. John Neumann.

Now settled at Ireton, Tobin described the school as "welcoming … everyone is so kind and gracious, making me feel like part of their family."

Tobin has filled her office with mementos of St. John Paul II, saying she admired "the way he handled conflicts; he would just roll up his sleeves and tried to do as Christ would." She draws on St. John Paul II's example for inspiration and lives by her own motto: "When it gets tough, just jump right in and handle the issue."

Hands-on, dedicated and eager to form lasting bonds with her students, Tobin has goals for her new school. Drawing on her background in biology, she hopes to encourage more STEM programs at Ireton. Her experience as a quality control scientist furthers her knowledge of the curriculum and types of partnerships needed to advance, emphasizing that Ireton "needs collaborations with programs outside of the building."

Tobin also acknowledged Ireton's progress with integrating technology into the curriculum. She hopes that partnerships will help the school use its existing resources more effectively and obtain new technologies as needed.

"We don't want the students to work with slide rulers or anything," she said.

Student story Denise Tobin


Denise Tobin, principal of Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, smiles at a display of slide rulers on her desktop monitor.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015