|June 24, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 12 • Oakland, CA|
| School leadership changes
Current assignment: Our Lady of Guadalupe School, Fremont
New assignment: Retirement
"For me, it's like full circle," said Linda Parini as she enters her final days as principal of Our Lady of Guadalupe School. Sister Janice Therese Wellington, OP, will become principal of the Fremont school.
This isn't the first time the two educators have met. "She hired me as a teacher," Parini said of her successor at the school that has been "so much a part of my life for 22 years."
The Dominican sister was principal of the school, then named St. Leonard School, when Parini decided it was time to return to the classroom.
"I taught 10 years in the Archdiocese of San Francisco," Parini said. "When I had my second child, I stayed home with the kids."
While raising her three children, who attended St. Edward School in Newark, she was an active volunteer.
"In 1990, I was ready to get back in full time," she said.
She remembers walking into the school that would become her community for more than 20 years. She said she felt, "'this is where I want to be.' This school has had that effect on people," she said.
She embraced her new home, teaching fifth grade for many years before moving to the junior high.
She has served as principal for the past six years.
When St. Leonard and Santa Paula parishes merged, the parishioners were offered a choice of names. Our Lady of Guadalupe was the most selected name of all the possibilities, Parini said, providing an example of people taking ownership.
The school has thrived under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe. "This school has a tremendous spirit," she said. "It's a spirit of home, of being welcome."
In her retirement, Parini said she plans to be spending more time with her grandchildren and to do some traveling. She will be keeping the Dominican charism close as well. She plans to volunteer at St. James School in San Francisco, a school of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose.
Knowing the school community will have loving, experienced leadership has eased her leave-taking at Our Lady of Guadalupe. "I feel it was meant to be," Parini said. "This has been such a love of mine."
New assignment: Principal, Moreau Catholic High School, Hayward
Previous assignment: Principal, Mercy High School, Burlingame
Although Mercy High School in Burlingame has been "a wonderful community" for Lisa Tortorich, who has served there for the past four years, the opportunity to cross the bay to become principal at Moreau Catholic High School was too good to pass up.
Tortorich and her husband raised their daughters in St. Theresa Parish in Oakland before making a big move to Half Moon Bay.
"We're enjoying living on the coast," she said.
Tortorich, who last was in the Diocese of Oakland as assistant principal at Bishop O'Dowd High School in the 2008-2009 school year, started as assistant principal at Mercy, an all-girls school that was transitioning to the president/principal model. Two years ago, she became principal.
She is looking forward to new opportunities at Moreau Catholic. "It's going to be really exciting for me," she said.
At her other schools, "I brought the technology piece with me," she said. For example, she launched the 1-to-1 iPad program at Mercy. "I'm always building from the ground up."
At Moreau Catholic, she has the opportunity "to step into a school that already has that as part of its culture."
The new challenge for her will be "to see what is the next thing. It's going to be an exciting five years in education," she predicted.
Right out of college, Tortorich began her teaching career at Holy Names High School in Oakland. One of the advantages of a small school, she said, was the ability to perform many jobs, including teacher, administrator and development director. She joined the administration at 25.
After working as an Apple educational sales representative, she enrolled in the Educational Technology program at the University of San Francisco, Graduate School of Education.
After completing the program, she worked on revising the course offerings as an adjunct instructor. She continues to teach there on weekends.
She joined three other Apple colleagues in forming a new company dedicated to educational technology professional development. "It was a pivotal time of technology integration in the mid-'90s," she said. The company was sold in 2002.
As center director for Sylvan Learning Center in Piedmont, she was able to use technology to address needs of students with learning differences.
"Steve Phelps tapped me on the shoulder for Bishop O'Dowd," she said of her next move, to the Oakland campus in 2005 as assistant principal, bringing her experience in technology and special needs.
At Moreau Catholic, the interview process gave her ample opportunity to meet students, parents, faculty and administrators.
"I've never been in a school that was so committed," she said. "The parents love the school. It is a family like I've never seen before."
New assignment: Principal, St. John Catholic School, San Lorenzo
Previous assignment: Third-grade teacher, Our Lady of Grace School, Castro Valley
"I'm ready to enter the position with energy and enthusiasm," says Emily Murphy of her new role as principal at St. John Catholic School in San Lorenzo.
"It is my ambition to take my vision of education to a larger scale and lead a school in a positive direction in which all students can achieve," she said. "I see a school as a place where students, parents, and teachers come together to help all children reach their highest potential."
She will have that opportunity at the San Lorenzo campus. "All of the faculty, students, and parents that I have met so far have been friendly and welcoming," she said. "I get the sense that St. John's is like a family, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to join this caring community."
Murphy attended Santa Catalina, a Catholic school in Monterey. "It was there that I discovered the benefits of a Catholic education," she said. "A sense of community, a strong code of ethics, a desire to be of service to others, and a love of learning were all things that I discovered while attending Catholic school."
She first became interested in teaching while volunteering in a public elementary school in Berkeley as a college student at the University of California at Berkeley.
"The second grade teacher had just handed a 'student of the month' certificate to one of her students," she said. "It was the end of the year and the look between student and teacher was a mixture of pride, joy, and relief. The connection between the two was so powerful that they only needed to exchange a smile, and each knew that this was the result of a year's worth of hard work and dedication.
"Right then, I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life. From that moment on, I have dedicated my time to educating students through building relationships of trust and respect."
Murphy, who majored in psychology at Cal, received her multiple subject teaching credential and master's degree in special education at San Francisco State University.
She began her teaching career in special education while working with students with autism. She was a substitute teacher in San Francisco public schools before working as the third-grade teacher at Our Lady of Grace School in Castro Valley for the last five years.
She is completing her administrative credential and master's degree in organization and leadership at the University of San Francisco.
"I have high expectations for all of the students at my school," Murphy said. "I believe that setting the bar high for all students is important to help each student work to the best of his or her abilities. This does not mean that the learning process will look the same for each student. I often tell my students that, 'Fair does not mean everyone getting the same thing. Fair means everyone getting exactly what they need.'"
She also understands the challenges facing educators. "Meeting the needs of each student can be a challenge for teachers today, especially when working with children with special needs, students from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds, or English language learners," she said. "I believe that it is the role of the school administrator to ensure that the unique needs of his or her school community are being met."
Murphy and her husband live in San Francisco with their young son. "Jack is now 19 months old, so most of our free time is spent chasing after our very active and energetic little boy," she said.
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