By SAMANTHA SMITH, Staff Writer | Published March 3, 2021
ATLANTA—After six months of serving as interim principal, Laura Cichanski, 43, has been appointed to the leadership role at Immaculate Heart of Mary School.
Cichanski began working at the Atlanta elementary school in 2016 as the curriculum coordinator. When then-principal Kellie DesOrmeaux became the associate school superintendent for the Archdiocese of Atlanta in July 2020, a search for a new leader started. Cichanski began her role as the fourteenth school principal in early February.
She surfaced as the preferred candidate for “her ability to articulate an attractive vision for the school and her proven leadership ability both as the school’s curriculum director and then as interim principal,” said Hal Plummer, superintendent of Catholic schools.
Msgr. Albert Jowdy, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and principal search committee leader, shared the news with school faculty and staff.
“It was in the crucible of this last year, serving as interim principal during a global pandemic, that [Cichanski’s] good judgement, kind manner and other leadership gifts were on display for all to see,” said Msgr. Jowdy.
Cichanski loves many things about IHM, but at the top of the list is the school’s family atmosphere and commitment to serving the community.
“The way our school community welcomes new families and staff is truly amazing,” she said. “The ways in which our school community comes together to serve others is even more so…we are truly a family.”
Cichanski received two degrees from the University of South Florida in Tampa—a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in curriculum instruction with an emphasis in early childhood education. She is a lifelong Catholic and loves Catholic schools, previously teaching at St. Stephen School in the Diocese of St. Petersburg in Florida for five years. This year marks Cichanski’s 20th as an educator in Catholic schools.
“Implementing live virtual instruction effectively, ensuring students receive quality instruction while implementing safety protocols, ensuring all school community members are safe, facing struggles with empathy and compassion—these were just some of the challenges we faced in this pandemic school year, but I believe we’ve met them with amazing success,” said Cichanski.
Additional successes include more than 90 percent of students being in the classroom and the school opening its first pre-K class next school year.
Her goals for the school include growing the preschool program and fostering a “culture of compassion” based on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. She also plans to expand on meeting the needs of students spiritually, educationally and emotionally.
Cichanski and husband, Anthony, have been married for 11 years. She and her family are parishioners at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta.