By NICHOLE GOLDEN, Staff Writer | Published September 1, 2016
ATLANTA—Several new administrators were welcomed to Catholic schools in the archdiocese as the 2016-17 school year began.
New principals at archdiocesan elementary schools are Kellie DesOrmeaux at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Atlanta; Melissa Reder at St. Mary’s School in Rome; and Sister Mary Jacinta, a Nashville Dominican, at St. Catherine of Siena School in Kennesaw. At Notre Dame Academy in Duluth, Brad Kluesner is Lower School principal and John Henry Spann is Upper School principal. Notre Dame is an independent Marist Catholic school and International Baccalaureate World School.
At Pinecrest Academy in Cumming, Dr. Edward J. Lindekugel has been named headmaster for the lower, middle and high schools and will continue in his role as the high school principal.
Pinecrest is an independent Catholic school affiliated with the Legionaries of Christ and serves 805 students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. The school opened in 1993, moved to a 68-acre campus on Peachtree Parkway in Cumming in 1998 and added the high school in 2003.
The new headmaster, Lindekugel joined Pinecrest Academy in the fall of 2008 and has worked as an administrator in both the middle and high schools since then, serving as high school principal since 2011.
After a career in human resources and telecommunications management and planning, Lindekugel followed a calling into education in 1997.
He began as an educator as a middle school English teacher at St. Jude School in Rockville, Maryland, and then taught world, U.S. and Advanced Placement European history and economics at Good Counsel High School in Wheaton, Maryland.
In 2001, he was named principal of Our Lady of Lourdes School in Bethesda, Maryland. At both Good Counsel and Our Lady of Lourdes, Lindekugel helped implement and execute numerous successful programs to benefit students, including several focused on improving instruction for students with learning differences.
Lindekugel was drawn to Georgia after learning about Pinecrest’s four-pronged educational approach called Integral Formation. The family moved to Georgia, largely so his three sons could benefit from the unique educational paradigm. Both Integral Formation and the school’s purpose of forming Christian leaders were appealing and compatible with his own philosophy.
“What makes Pinecrest special is its commitment to delivering Integral Formation in an environment of servant leadership,” said Lindekugel. “We truly strive to keep Christ at the center of everything, as we work to help students maximize their potential spiritually, humanly, intellectually and apostolically.”
During his eight-year tenure at Pinecrest, Lindekugel has been involved in major school initiatives, including oversight of the planning and development of an award-winning band program, which includes more than 150 students. He spearheaded successful applications for nomination to the Cardinal Newman Society’s Top 50 Catholic High Schools and the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence designation of the U.S. Department of Education, awarded in 2014.
Lindekugel earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1991 and a master’s in business administration in 1993, both from the University of Maryland. In 1999, he earned a master of arts in teaching secondary social studies from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. He completed his doctorate in educational leadership at Georgia State University in 2015.
Playing the trombone, physical fitness, and reading are Lindekugel’s hobbies.
He is a member of the Georgia Wind Symphony and fills in with local groups, including Capital City Express, and occasionally plays at Masses and weddings in a trombone quartet.
Immaculate Heart of Mary School
On July 1, Kellie DesOrmeaux became the 14th principal of Immaculate Heart of Mary School, located at the IHM parish campus on Briarcliff Road.
Raised in southwest Louisiana, she holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a master’s in science education in mathematics from Walden University and a specialist degree in educational leadership from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
She has worked in general, gifted and special education classrooms in the Gwinnett and Walton County public schools in primary, intermediate and middle school grade levels. Most recently DesOrmeaux served as assistant principal at St. Thomas More School in Decatur, also an archdiocesan elementary school, for three years. DesOrmeaux, her husband and three young children live in Monroe, where they are members of St. Anna Church. Her hobbies are reading, outdoor activities, watching sports and spending time with family.
Among her goals for her first year as principal are to meet the needs of students through differentiated learning opportunities, to build relationships with students, faculty, parents and the community, and to continue to build the relationship between the parish and school by nurturing Catholic identity and collaborative events.
The school, which was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2009 by the U.S. Department of Education, serves 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It was founded in 1956.
DesOrmeaux said the amazing staff is what sets Immaculate Heart of Mary School apart.
“They are working above and beyond to ensure the students will be successful at IHM not only for the 2016-17 school year but for many future years of success as well,” she said. “The family atmosphere and care that all individuals show for one another is one way this school is truly special. Catholic identity is present in every aspect of the school. It is such a blessing to be a part of this wonderful community.”
The seeds for a career in education were planted during childhood for this administrator.
“I was one of those little girls who played school with my friends growing up. I have always wanted to support children to reach their full potential,” said DesOrmeaux. “Throughout the years, I grew in my faith and calling to provide for others.”
St. Mary’s School
Students and parents of St. Mary’s School in Rome had the opportunity to meet their new principal, Melissa Reder, during a back-to-school Spirit Night Aug. 7.
Reder comes to St. Mary’s from Illinois. St. Mary’s is an archdiocesan school, serving students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and its history extends back to 1945. It serves students from several Catholic parishes and from across the Rome community.
Reder was principal of St. Thomas School in Philo, Illinois, for three years. Prior to that, she taught third grade for 10 years. In addition, she has led second-grade, kindergarten and preschool classrooms, as well as many summer camps for middle school.
The principal earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master of arts from the University of Illinois.
“During my time as a classroom teacher I worked closely with the University of Illinois to bring STEM learning into my classroom, and it is still a strong interest of mine,” said Reder.
According to Reder, St. Mary’s has been a busy place over the summer months.
“My son, Jackson, was lucky enough to join vacation Bible school and run with the cross country team,” she said. Jackson is also being welcomed to the community by participating in art classes and a Lego camp.
“I was truly blessed to meet our new priest, Father Rafael (Carballo),” added Reder.
Father Carballo was installed by Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as the new pastor of St. Mary’s Church on Aug. 16.
“Our goal at St. Mary’s is to have a strong Catholic identity, and I look forward to working with Father Rafael in any capacity. At St. Mary’s we will always ‘Show Courage, Seek Wisdom, and Share the Love of God’,” she said, quoting the school motto.
St. Catherine of Siena School
Sister Mary Jacinta, OP, a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia, is the new principal of St. Catherine of Siena School in Kennesaw, but it is a return to a role she has held in the past, having previously served as the school’s principal.
St. Catherine of Siena offers a pre-kindergarten through eighth grade program.
The sister outlined her goals for the 2016-17 school year, including building “Christ-centered relationships among our faculty and staff, students and families.”
Other goals of the principal are to promote a culture of professional and spiritual collaboration among faculty, staff and parents, and scholastic excellence for the community.
“St. Catherine of Siena School is the only archdiocesan school which is served by sisters,” she said about the school’s uniqueness.
The late Archbishop John F. Donoghue contacted the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia, based in Nashville, Tennessee, to request they begin teaching in the Archdiocese of Atlanta. In the fall of 2004, three sisters arrived at St. Catherine of Siena from the motherhouse to begin this new mission.
By 2013, St. Catherine of Siena had been designated a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education.
Education remains a worthwhile vocation for Sister Mary Jacinta and her colleagues.
“I would say that the most rewarding aspect of serving in Catholic education is our foundation upon Christ and his Church. This foundation calls us to care for our students as beloved children of our Father in heaven, and it connects us with the sacraments, the source of the graces which are essential for our work,” Sister Mary Jacinta said.
Notre Dame Academy, Lower School
Brad Kluesner joins Notre Dame Academy in Duluth as new principal of its Lower School, which includes grades one through five. Notre Dame Academy is comprised of an Early Years Campus for preK2-kindergarten, a Lower School, Middle School for grades six through eight, and the Upper School, currently serving ninth and 10th grades. The student population is approximately 570.
Kluesner’s experience includes serving as principal of two Catholic elementary schools in Anderson, Indiana, and as headmaster of a K-12 Catholic independent school in Indianapolis. He has 20 years of experience in Catholic education and ministries.
Kluesner earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and Catholic studies from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he spent a semester studying in Rome. He completed his graduate education at the University of Notre Dame through the Alliance for Catholic Education program, earning two master’s degrees in education and in educational administration.
Kluesner and wife, Amy, will celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary in September. They have two sons, Henry, 3, and John, who is 9 months old.
“In my short time on campus, I would say our school’s strength is the experience, talent, and enthusiasm of our teachers. The support our parent community provides the school is also incredible,” said Kluesner.
Notre Dame Academy holds the distinction of being the first Catholic elementary school in the nation to receive authorization from the International Baccalaureate Organization. It is an IB World School for pre-K through fifth grade. NDA is also sponsored by the Marists.
“My goal is to continue emphasizing our five pillars of faith, knowledge, service, fitness and technology so that, together with parents, we may help our students develop their God-given gifts and attain the fullness of human flourishing,” Kluesner said.
He said a career in education is how he believes God calls him to serve the Church.
“I am convinced that Catholic schools provide an elite education in the world that forms students to impact our communities, properly shape our country, and set them on path to be in relationship with God for eternity,” he said.
Notre Dame Academy, Upper School
Americus native John Henry Spann is the new principal of the high school at Notre Dame Academy.
Spann attended Southern Catholic College in Dawsonville, which was open from 2005-2010. While a short-lived experience, it was “life-changing” for him.
“I always knew that I wanted to work in education, but my friends and professors at Southern Catholic so positively affected me that I knew I could never teach in an institution that did not rest its foundations on the immutable truths of the faith,” he said.
When the college closed in 2010, Spann completed his bachelor of arts in history at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. He then married his wife, Angie, and returned home to work as a firefighter for the Americus Fire Department.
While expecting their first child, Spann began working at Holy Spirit Prep School in Atlanta as a history teacher. Spann received a master’s degree in education in independent and charter school leadership from Mercer University and a master of theological studies from Holy Spirit College.
He became an inaugural member of the Upper School faculty at Notre Dame Academy when the high school section opened in August 2015.
The Spanns now have three children, and the family lives on 12 acres in Cumming with lots of dogs, cats, chickens, turkeys and ducks.
“We enjoy small-scale farming, fishing, and enjoying the great outdoors,” said Spann.
As he steps into the new role at the school, he looks forward to continuing to build traditions and opportunities for students through the International Baccalaureate program. This year there will be freshman and sophomore classes in the high school.
He credits the school’s success to two essential elements—the Catholic tradition and the IB curriculum.
“They blend together to form an educational environment that is very difficult to find in the 21st century, one that fosters the time-tested, rigorous, and faith-filled environment Catholic education is known for, while forming students to be globally aware and capable of thriving in the interconnected, technologically advanced modern world,” he said.
Spann is excited about his new role and the future.
“I look forward to managing the continued growth of the Upper School, remaining on the cutting edge of technological and educational innovations, striving to help students to be successful in this world, and preparing them for the next,” he said.