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Sister DellaSanta named new Rice principal

Sister of Mercy Laura DellaSanta has moved her office  — but not far —  from the office of the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Burlington on Joy Drive in South Burlington to the office of the principal at Rice Memorial High School on Proctor Avenue.

After two years as the chief administrator of Catholic education in Vermont — first as interim superintendent then as superintendent — she accepted the principal’s job after the resignation of Msgr. Bernard Bourgeois who has returned to parish ministry.

“I want to join everyone to continue the mission of Catholic education at Rice in a joyful community and in a Christ-centered environment with excellent academics and service to others,” she said. “I want to continue the tradition of high standards in a prayerful, caring community and to bring the school to the next level for our students of today to influence tomorrow.”

A former teacher and principal of Mater Christi School in Burlington, she was a first- and fourth-grade teacher in Milton for 13 years before entering the Sisters of Mercy in 1984. She also served as president of Walsingham Academy in Williamsburg, Va., and principal of St. Joseph Regional School in Keene, N.H.

Sister DellaSanta brings to her new role a love of education — particularly Catholic education — and a respect for the community of faith.  She has been successful with key components like academics, enrollment, finance and fundraising, and she has leadership experience.

“I know the nuances, the challenges and the alternatives to challenges [to Catholic education] and how to celebrate our success and develop long-range plans,” she said.

As principal, she will work to address financial challenges, build future leadership, keep facilities updated, provide an excellent education and continue to improve teacher salaries. Such challenges will be met with prayer and teamwork. “We all work together,” she said of the faculty, staff, pastors, parents, students and coaches.

Rice currently has about 440 students in grades nine through 12.

A Barre native, Sister DellaSanta graduated from Lyndon State College with a bachelor’s degree in education; she earned a master’s degree in education from St. Michael’s College in Colchester.

Asked why she made the change from superintendent to principal, she said she was asked to consider the principal’s job and felt she had the right gifts, experience and understanding of Rice and the greater Burlington community to bring to the school at this time.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
  • Published in Schools

Principal appointed in Barre

During her first year as principal of St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre, Brenda S. Buzzell intends to support student learning, increase enrollment and promote continued community involvement.

The school was formed by the merger of St. Monica School in Barre and St. Michael School in Montpelier.

The two schools and the former Marian High School in Barre “have been pillars in these two communities for almost 100 years,” said the fourth-generation parishioner of St. Monica Church in Barre. “Many people in Central Vermont have fond memories of attending these schools that produced strong community leaders and solid community members.”

 Today St. Monica-St. Michael School — offering preschool through grade eight — continues to offer a quality educational alternative to public schools with a mission to empower students with spiritual, intellectual and physical growth.

A Barre native, Buzzell attended St. Monica School and Marian High School and graduated from Spaulding High School in Barre. A Vermont licensed educator, she earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Union Institute and University and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Vermont; she has more than 30 years of teaching experience in both public and private schools.

She is board chair of the Barre Town Middle and Elementary School, a member of the Barre Supervisory Union Board and is active with Vermont state organizations and committees to promote quality early care and education.

She comes to the St. Monica-St. Michael principal job from The Stern Center for Language and Learning where she spent 11 years as the Building Blocks For Literacy coordinator, instructor and master trainer. 

As a national presenter and master trainer, she traveled extensively throughout the United States bringing this research-based, research-proven early literacy program that teaches developmentally appropriate practices to childcare providers and preschool teachers. 

Buzzell co-authored the online Building Blocks For Literacy course, presented webinars and developed the undergraduate and graduate courses.

She brings to the principal’s job knowledge of educational research and best practices and her experience of teaching children in public and private schools as well as teaching adults to understand language and literacy development. 

“My school board experience has given me knowledge of best practice, policy development and financial responsibility,” she said.

Declining enrollment — a challenge shared with many public and private schools — is an area she will address as principal. “I am hoping to encourage families to register their children, knowing that we offer strong foundational skills in academics,” she said.

Buzzell’s appointment was effective July 1; she replaces Denise Maurice.

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
  • Published in Schools
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