By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published August 5, 2010
Lauren Schell has been at Holy Redeemer School since it opened its doors 11 years ago.
She’s taught in the classroom and served as the school’s religious education coordinator. Now, she’ll be the principal for the 500-student school in Johns Creek, north of Atlanta, when classes start Aug. 9.
“Every change brings challenges. You just have to meet them one at the time,” said the native New Yorker, who thinks after living in Atlanta for 19 years she’s about ready to say “ya’ll.”
Schell calls herself a “poster child” for Catholic education.
Raised in New York City, the 51-year-old attended Catholic schools growing up, from Resurrection Ascension School in Rego Park, in the borough of Queens, and Mary Lewis Academy, a girls school, right through to her graduate degree at St. John’s University.
She and her husband, Bill, have two children who attend Blessed Trinity High School, Roswell. They are members of St. Brigid Church, Johns Creek.
Schell has been involved in education for 22 years, all but one spent in the Catholic school system. She taught third grade for seven years at Holy Redeemer and served as the school’s religious education coordinator for the past four years.
“I believe in Catholic education, both as a student, as a parent and as an educator. It provides parents the best of both worlds. They can have strong faith formation and an excellent academic education,” she said.
She succeeds Eric Westley, who served as principal for four years.
Schell said the school principal is the leader both in academics and on the spiritual side, providing the direction that sets the tone on campus. She said being a Catholic school means more than the religious statues around the school. It has to penetrate how everyone treats each other, from the parents to the administrators, she said.
The school must “reflect Catholic values in all that we do,” she said.
Opened in 1999, the regional archdiocesan school, while adjacent to St. Brigid Church, serves students from 14 parishes in the surrounding area in kindergarten through eighth grade. Like all archdiocesan schools, Holy Redeemer is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the Southern Association of Independent Schools.
Holy Redeemer School last year earned the distinction of being named a National Blue Ribbon School, a U.S. Department of Education award that is one of the highest honors a school can receive. Ten archdiocesan elementary schools over the years have won the award. Schell said a challenge for the year ahead at Holy Redeemer is to remain committed to excellence and not to rest on their laurels. Schell said with the excellent staff at the school, that isn’t likely to be a problem.
Holy Redeemer and other Catholic schools have a great story about the excellent education and spiritual development of young people, she said. Holy Redeemer’s competition for students is other private schools, but what the Catholic school offers is the spiritual component to complement the book learning, she said.
“We need to reinforce and communicate the value of Catholic education,” she said.
Holy Redeemer School is located at 3380 Old Alabama Road, Johns Creek. For more information go to the school’s website at www.hrcatholicschool.org, or call (770) 410-4056.