Administrators from all Camden Diocesan schools gathered at Saint Vincent DePaul Regional School in Mays Landing Aug. 18 for the official start of the 2016-17 school year.
With a full agenda that ranged from safety guidelines, to legislative news and curriculum updates, to school leadership, administrators greeted one another like favorite cousins at a family reunion and welcomed into their fold four new principals: Father Allain Caparas, Saint Joseph High School: Sister Nancy Kindelan, IHM, Saint Teresa Regional School; Mr. Joseph Saffioti, Saint Peter Regional School; and Mrs. Molly Webb, Resurrection Regional School.
Saffioti, a former language arts teacher at Saint Michael in Clayton, is not new to South Jersey Catholic schools, but his view and responsibilities are broader in his new role.
“The care the diocese has for safety is really impressive,” said Saffioti, who identified safe environment, Catholic identity and quality of instruction as particularly valuable topics covered during the session. Related safety presentations addressed security at school events, guidelines for reporting unsafe or unacceptable behavior, social media use, and child abuse clearance requirements for all adults who work in a diocesan school (whether paid or volunteer).
Rod Herrera, director of Child and Youth Protection, spent the day on-site updating principals’ safe environment binders. He described the binder as a “cookbook” with recipes for going through clearance processes.
Fiercely committed to ensuring child safety, Herrera is responsible for the coordination of all programs for Child and Youth Protection, including the child assault prevention (CAP) program, a state-mandated requirement for any individual working with children. The diocese also provides age-appropriate safe environment training for students — a program that is not required in public schools.
Veteran principal Sister Jerilyn Einstein, who has led Guardian Angels Regional School since 2003, still finds the August principals’ meeting to be invaluable. Sister Jerilyn loves the camaraderie, which she fosters wholeheartedly as photographer for updates to the administrators’ directory.
“It gives us a focus for the year. It hits spiritual and academic issues,” she said of the meeting.
Mary Kane, academic dean at Wildwood Catholic High School, offered thanks and a special shout-out to Bill Watson, director of Curriculum.
“It’s good to feel supported,” she said in reference to Watson’s pledge of support from the Office of Catholic Schools. Kane’s enthusiastic response to the meeting may have been trumped by thoughts of Rio, where hometown hero and Olympic triathlete Joe Maloy was competing at the exact same time. A 2004 graduate of Wildwood Catholic, Maloy led the U.S. triathlon contingent — a proud chapter for the Wildwood Catholic community.
Collectively, administrators and staff from the Office of Catholic Schools offered a Prayer for Our Ministry, which read, in part: Help us to distinguish your call to minister… trusting you to use each of us in accordance with our abilities and experiences. Empower us to pray, O Lord, as we renew our commitment to be your servants in the world. Guide us daily as we go about our work of being builders of the Kingdom.”
South Jersey Catholic schools will open Sept. 6. To find a school near you, visit camdendiocese.org/schools or call the Office of Catholic Schools at 856-583-6103.
Mary Beth Peabody is Communications and Marketing Manager, Office of Catholic Schools.
For more information about Catholic schools in South Jersey visit www.camdendiocese.org/schools (856-583-6103).