New principals hope to increase enrollment and Catholic identity

CHARLESTON — Now that school bells have begun to ring across South Carolina, faculties and staff of the Diocese of Charleston have renewed their commitment to helping children live the life of Jesus through Catholic education.

New principals as well as new students were welcomed this school year, and new schools were added to the landscape. A new elementary school opened at Prince of Peace Church in Taylors, and a new Child Development Center opened its doors at St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville.

The four criteria for Catholic schools remain the inspiring goal: authentically Catholic, academically excellent, financially feasible and community supported.

Margaret Adams, Ph.D, superintendent of the schools for the diocese, believes these criteria should serve as a guide for teachers, parents and students on a daily basis.

According to Adams, the diocese has 26 elementary schools, two diocesan high schools and two private Catholic high schools. She said the schools “will continue to work at creating an educational faith community, in which young people can grow together in the love of Christ.”

“I say ‘thank you’ to the parents who sacrifice to send their children to a Catholic school,” she said. “The money spent on a Catholic education is an investment in your children and in your faith. The children will receive dividends from this investment as they become adults in society.”

Three new principals will assist in that formation. Rosann Greiner is principal of Nativity School in Charleston. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s in health education, a certificate in education administration, and a superintendent certificate, and has 23 years of experience in the classroom for grades two through seven.

When asked about her first impressions of Nativity, she responded: “I like the overall community feeling here as my parents, staff and children work so well together.”

Greiner hopes to continue to build on the Catholic identity of the school and offer even more students a religious-based education.

“I feel very strongly that we are on our way with all the support I am receiving here,” she said.

Ann Smith is the new principal of Prince of Peace in Taylors. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, taught for six years in Missouri, and is a former director of a preschool.

“I like the small-size classes and the intimate atmosphere,” she said of the school. “I feel the children’s needs are being met because of the small class sizes.

“We have plans to continue to add a grade each year up to eighth grade,” she said. “We also are looking to add a second phase to the playground. I am glad to be here.”

As inspiration in her duties, Smith said she keeps in mind a quote from Pope John Paul II: “Children are the hope and treasure of the church.”

The new school year marked a move for Paul Schroeder. He left his position as director of the Office of Evangelization, Catechesis and Christian Initiation to take on the job of principal at Summerville Catholic School in Summerville.

Schroeder has a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and a master’s in theological studies/religious education. He taught in Catholic schools for 18 years and served as an adjunct faculty member for a community college in Erie, Pa.

He, too, likes that his new school is family-oriented with active parent involvement.

“I have a professional staff, and the parents take an active role in the life of the school by volunteering in various areas,” he said.

He hopes to increase enrollment and continue to enhance the Catholic identity.

“People have chosen to send their child to a Catholic school, so we do not have to water down the faith in order to fit in but should use this opportunity to evangelize,” he said. “We can live as a minority and still have a strong identity in the community at large.”

Schroeder, like his peers, has found a welcoming atmosphere.

“I am really glad to be here,” he said. “Everyone is supportive. It is a great place to be. I hope people will want to be a part of our vision as a registered family or as a volunteer.”