St. John Neumann School principal receives national honor

CHARLESTON — Barbara Cole, principal of St. John Neumann School in Columbia, added another award to her collection when she was named a National Distinguished Principal by the U.S. Department of Education.
She is one of six principals from private schools across the country to receive the honor, according to Sister Julia Hutchison, diocesan superintendent of education.
Cole and the school she leads have been on a roll the past year, raking up four top awards. St. John Neumann was named a 2008 National Blue Ribbon School, received an Inviting Schools Fidelity Award, and was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
Also, in December 2008, Cole was presented with the Dr. Robert J. Kealey Distinguished Principal Award for the South Atlantic region. It is given annually by the National Catholic Educational Association to 12 Catholic school principals from around the nation who show distinguished achievement in leadership, and promote Catholic values and academic excellence.
From this point, she advanced to consideration for the national award.
Sister Julia praised Cole’s leadership and the contributions she has made to the Diocese of Charleston’s school system.
“I think Barbara represents what is excellent in Catholic education,” Sister Julia said. “She is outstanding, but we have others who are outstanding as well. This isn’t a one-person diocese by any stretch.”
The superintendent encouraged others in the school system to apply for as many awards and grants as possible.
Cole will receive the national principal’s award from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., in October.
“She opens the door to parents and has the most welcoming school. She is always willing to give of herself,” said Sandra Leatherwood, assistant to the superintendent for the Diocese of Charleston.