Eric DesOrmeaux, a 1995 graduate of Holy Cross School, has been named chief school officer in the school’s leadership team restructuring to a one-school model. He will direct the “school’s curriculum, discipline and teaching teams” in all academic areas, including primary, middle and high school grades on its two campuses.
DesOrmeaux joined Holy Cross in 2006 as dean of men and head wrestling coach. He previously was a teacher and administrator in St. Bernard Parish for six years. DesOrmeaux earned his bachelor of science degree in secondary education and social studies at Louisiana State University and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of New Orleans.
“Because I had a strong relationship with the faculty and staff, it was easy to transition into this role,” he said. “The staff has been behind me in what I expect from them.”
Having been back on Holy Cross’ campus for 12 years and experiencing its transformation and rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina from 400 to 1,000 students and its relocation to a 21-acre site on Paris Avenue in New Orleans, DesOrmeaux is humbled to serve in his new role.
“Holy Cross was very much a part of my formation,” he said. “I can always fall back on the lessons learned.”
As an alumnus, he said he’s witnessed the school’s “one family” mission in its current students, faculty and parents. This maxim is evident at the school’s functions during the singing of the alma mater, where the index finger is raised in honor of the priests, brothers and Marianite sisters who comprise one family in the Congregation of Holy Cross.
“Father Moreau (Blessed Basil Moreau who founded the Congregation of Holy Cross officially in 1857) came up with an overall concept of mission over method,” he said. He believed in educating the whole man in mind, heart, body and soul, and the congregation has delineated a clear mission of “who we are to be.”
This idea of mission is strengthened with every visit to New Orleans of Holy Cross Brother Joel Giallanza, interim executive director of the Holy Cross Institute at St. Edward University in Austin, Texas. Brother Joel often discusses “the light in all of our faculty.”
“Teachers have to be emblazoned with that zeal to find the best means and methods for our students,” DesOrmeaux said. Faculty in-services of the Holy Cross mission and frequent attendance at educational conferences enhance their knowledge.
Several teachers recently returned from the University of Notre Dame, where the integration of science and religion was explored. Eight teachers and DesOrmeaux also attended the International Society for Technology and Education (ITSE) conference and an AP conference to glean ideas to improve education for students. These teachers share with fellow teachers what they learned in presentations throughout the year.
“We are embracing the fact that you hire professionals to do a great job, and you give them the tools that they need,” he said.
In Holy Cross’ leadership restructuring, Teresa Billings was named chief mission officer of the school. She was Holy Cross’ middle school principal and director of studies and primary school principal. She also is a member of the Holy Cross Moreau Province Institute Program Development Committee.
DesOrmeaux said the new leadership structure – where he basically has assistant principals in place for the high school, middle school and primary school – affords him time to float between the two Holy Cross campuses.
– Christine Bordelon
Greg Rando, a 1977 graduate of Brother Martin High School, has been named president for the 2018-19 year, succeeding longtime president John Devlin.
Rando recently served as the executive vice president and president of the St. Aloysius Century Foundation for the 2017-18 school year. Prior to 2017, Rando served for 11 years as principal and assistant to the president.
Rando’s appointment coincides with the 50th anniversary of Brother Martin and the 150th anniversary of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans. He is the first alumnus of Brother Martin to serve as president.
Rando, who holds a B.M.E. degree from Loyola University New Orleans and a master’s degree in Catholic School Secondary Administration from the University of San Francisco, has spent more than 30 years as a teacher and administrator while “educating young men for life” with a passion and dedication for his alma mater.
Prior to teaching at Brother Martin, he taught ninth-grade religion and music appreciation at Mount Carmel Academy. In 1984, Rando returned to Elysian Fields Avenue, serving as assistant director of admissions, development team member, alumni director and a member of the faculty.
In 1990, he was called to expand his ministry, taking a position as the assistant/associate director of scholarships and recruitment in the Office of Admissions at Loyola University. Then, he returned to Brother Martin in the fall of 1992 and has served in various roles, including director of admissions, chorus teacher and assistant principal for discipline and attendance.
“I am privileged to continue the work of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart and their lay partners, who began forming young men for good in 1869 here in New Orleans,” Rando said. “My goal is to make the future of our ministry and our school even stronger as we begin our next 150 years of being one of the most profound and sacred institutions of education for young men in the New Orleans area.”
In his many years in leadership at Brother Martin, Rando has initiated innovative programs that have propelled Brother Martin to even greater success, including advances in classroom and student technology use, expanded depth of instructional curriculum, the summer enrichment program, student ambassadors and college run, and expanded campus ministry efforts to evangelize young people, and to form both students and faculty in the charism of our founder, Father André Coindre.
Devlin, whom Rando succeeds as president, completes 40 years of educational service and leadership at Brother Martin to move into a new position, executive director of schools, to oversee the educational and advancement goals of the 10 schools the Brothers of the Sacred Heart operate in its U.S. province.
Douglas Triche, who has served for the last 20 years at St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, is the new president/principal of Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell.
On Sept. 12, 1987, in the Louisiana Superdome, Triche listened to Pope John Paul II instruct him and his fellow Catholic educators to call young people to be saints in the world.
He would later shake the hand of the pope, whose name is on the high school he is now called to serve.
Triche served for eight years as director of campus ministry at St. Charles Catholic and then for 12 years as assistant principal of academics.
Triche is especially known for his work in developing religious education across the curriculum, both at St. Charles Catholic and as a national speaker and presenter.
Triche has a master’s degree in religious education from Loyola University New Orleans. He credits Loyola for giving him a solid background in Catholic theology and educational philosophy and theory.
He believes it has served him well as a Catholic educator and administrator.
He received a bachelor’s degree in religion from St. Joseph Seminary College in Covington. It was there he fell in love with the northshore and formed a deep sacramental spirituality from his Benedictine spiritual fathers at St. Joseph Abbey.
Triche is married to his bride of 36 years and has three children.
“I see great things ahead for Pope John Paul II High School because it has great students and great parents,” Triche said. “With its deep roots in the Catholic mission of the church, I believe its students are ambassadors for Christ as advocates of his Gospel of love. They are not the church of the future. They are the young church today!
“By being the church today, then they will one day graduate from Pope John Paul II High School with the skills they need to transform the culture and society of ‘me first’ to the culture and society of giving life, rather than taking life, building up rather than tearing down, uniting rather than breaking apart, healing rather than wounding, learning rather than confusing, and leading rather than scattering.
“As the young church, they will do this as Christian married couples and parents, Christian scientists and engineers, Christian nurses and doctors, Christian lawyers and judges, Christian CEOs and civic leaders, and as religious brothers, sisters and priests.”
Tony Bonura brings more than 25 years of experience in education to St. Matthew the Apostle. He has a master of education in educational administration and supervision (secondary education) and a bachelor of science in secondary education (in social studies) from Our Lady of Holy Cross College.
His experience in education spans from St. Martin’s Episcopal School, where he supervised the physical education department and taught Louisiana history, to Brother Martin High School (1992-96), where he taught Louisiana history and world history and was junior varsity coach and assistant basketball and baseball coach.
In 2002, he was hired by his alma mater (Class of ’86) De La Salle High School, where he served through 2018 as executive vice president, athletic director, director of alumni, director of the Summer Foundations Program for incoming students and principal of summer school and the school’s bus service, and directed activities and finances of the Cavalier Athletic Club. He also was dance team and cheerleader moderator.
Bonura also was assistant principal of discipline and director of admission procedures and student services. During his tenure, he said there was about a 30 percent enrollment uptick, reversing a 30-year trend.
At De La Salle, Bonura reinstituted and moderated the student council, created and implemented the crisis plan, directed the drug-testing program and was upper school head basketball coach, among other duties.
“I’ve had 15 years in administration,” he said “I have a reputation of being personable and building good cultures. If you look at my background, when I took over athletics at De La Salle, things were pretty down. Recently, leaving that position, I think we built a culture of leaders.”
He’s also an associate with the Institute for School and Parish Development and a member of its board. He’s worked with out-of-state schools on strategic planning.
While admissions director at De La Salle, Bonura said he became familiar with St. Matthew’s strong academics.
“It’s a good faculty that prepares its students very well for high school,” he said. “From a test score perspective, St. Matthew students score in the upper tier comparatively in the area on standardized tests. I know high schools are excited to get these students from St. Matthew.”
He wants to take this excellent school with a strong tradition and build an even stronger culture and community.
“We want to make St. Matthew attractive not only to the residents of River Ridge but also to the people throughout Jefferson Parish and the River Parishes,” he said.
Bonura plans to institute a 21st century perspective that builds on students’ creativity.
“Creativity is an important skill to build on,” Bonura said. “We instilled some of that at De La Salle and had happier kids. Creativity and a collaborative approach to education are two areas that I can bring here. … The important things to do today, as a principal, are to blend the timeless nature of education with the timely needs of today’s generation of students. When you combine 21st century learning and the skills of Catholic education, some real magic can happen.”
– Christine Bordelon
Shannon Culotta said the passion for teaching has always been a part of her life. She said she would come home from attending a half-day kindergarten program and pretend to be a teacher.
Now, with 20 years of experience in Catholic education under her belt as a teacher, assistant principal and dean of students, she will become Ursuline Academy’s Elementary Head of School.
“To this day, I still get excited and have trouble falling asleep the night before the first day of school,” she said. “Education is not simply a profession where you just show up to work; it’s the opportunity to be among a school family and grow together daily in faith.”
Culotta has a bachelor of arts in elementary education and a master of education in curriculum and instruction. For the past year, she has been Ursuline Academy’s elementary dean of students.
As a mother of two sons, she said she is blessed to be able to call her students “daughters.” Culotta said working at Ursuline Academy has truly been a fulfilling experience because she works alongside a community of dedicated teachers. She enjoys being at a Catholic school.
“It is faith, a desire to serve others and a dedicated community of teachers and students that continue to inspire my calling,” Culotta said. “To be in an environment with children and faculty in which we can pray and grow together is the best part of being in Catholic education.”
She anticipates that the most rewarding part of this year will be watching the girls grow spiritually, academically and emotionally.
In the true spirit of Ursuline foundress, St. Angela Merici, Culotta said she intends to continue the legacy of cultivating the development of young women. She remains committed to nurturing the uniqueness of each girl while continuing to develop a strong Ursuline family.
“I am truly grateful to be a part of the long history of Catholic education that distinguishes Ursuline from any other Catholic school,” Culotta said. “I plan to lead daily through the words of St. Angela, ‘Strive to be faithful to that which God has called you.’”
– Christine Bordelon
Katherine Houin comes on board as principal of St. Andrew the Apostle School in New Orleans – her elementary school alma mater – with eight years of teaching experience in a variety of classroom settings spanning grades K-5.
A member of the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana (APEL), Houin earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree education in teaching and learning from the University of Holy Cross.
She is certified in elementary education (grades 1-5); early childhood (pre-K3); English as a Second Language (ESL); instructional leadership; and as a reading specialist.
Houin’s previous posts include being a first-grade teacher and leader of teacher professional development at Gretna No. 2 Advanced Academy; a first-grade teacher and self-contained ESL kindergarten teacher at Woodland West Elementary School in Harvey, where she taught a student population that included English language learners, the deaf and the hard of hearing; a first-grade teacher at Alice M. Harte Charter School in Algiers, where she helped mainstream students with special needs into general education classrooms; and a fifth-grade math teacher at Luling Elementary, where she prepared students for the Integrated Louisiana Educational Assessment Program (iLeap), produced model math lessons with fellow faculty members and served as a peer mentor of those lessons to teachers throughout the district.
Houin began transitioning into her new role at St. Andrew the Apostle in January, working alongside outgoing principal Patience Clasen.
Since assuming the principalship in June, Houin has been working with her administrative team to plan the 2018-19 school year and collaborating with the community to enhance St. Andrew the Apostle’s STEM curriculum, which will include a new, state-of-the-art STEM lab.
Houin also completed a 2017 Educational Leadership Internship at St. Andrew the Apostle. That summer, she planned and led professional development opportunities for teachers, guided them in new teaching strategies and participated in the interviewing and hiring process of faculty and staff for the coming year.
“As an educator, I strive to create an environment where children love to learn,” Houin said. “I am grateful to be named principal of St. Andrew the Apostle, where teachers love to teach, students love to learn, and parents play an important role in their children’s education.
“I hope to continue this partnership with faculty, staff, and parents as together, we cultivate a Catholic environment where students grow academically and spiritually.”
– Beth Donze
Thomas Huck, the new principal of St. Benilde School in Metairie, began his career in education in 2003 as a junior high and high school teacher in the public school system in his native Picayune, Mississippi, teaching social studies and technology, exceptional/special education courses to students with moderate to severe learning disabilities, and coaching swimming, soccer and tennis.
In 2007, Huck was hired by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology in Steubenville, Ohio, to assist in the training of more than 500 catechists seeking certification in the “Journey through Scripture” program, a parish-based curriculum he helped to develop. His responsibilities included managing the center’s mailroom operations and database of more than 14,000 donors.
Huck relocated to Louisiana in 2010, serving for six years at Archbishop Hannan High School. During that time he held various positions: director of campus ministry, director of summer programs, theology department chair, theology teacher, assistant men’s soccer coach and head coach for men’s and women’s tennis.
He was awarded Archbishop Hannan’s “Teacher of the Year” award for 2011-12.
Prior to assuming his current role as principal of St. Benilde, Huck served for two years as the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction at St. Michael the Archangel High School in Baton Rouge. His tasks included coordinating the professional development of nearly 50 teachers, supervising campus ministry, department chairs and new teachers, and overseeing lesson planning, curriculum implementation and teacher evaluations.
Huck holds a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Mississippi State University in Starkville, and two master’s degrees: one in theology and Christian ministry from The Franciscan University of Steubenville; the other in educational leadership from the University of Holy Cross.
“I am extremely excited and grateful to serve the St. Benilde community for this upcoming school year as we celebrate the school’s 50th anniversary,” Huck said. “As principal, it is my primary goal to promote and create opportunities for the students of St. Benilde to encounter Christ in one another, in our community and in the sacraments.”
– Beth Donze
Gina Mahl has worked for 30 years as an educator and brings more than 17 years of educational leadership experience and seven years of finance management to her new position as principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Kenner.
Mahl began her teaching career in 1980 as the seventh- and eighth-grade math teacher, student council moderator and math club sponsor at St. Edward the Confessor Elementary School in Metairie. After a seven-year hiatus from teaching to pursue a career as a savings administration manager at a local bank, Mahl returned to the school setting and worked at Chalmette High for more than a decade as a remediation teacher, in-school GED teacher and cheerleader moderator.
From 2000-05, Mahl was assistant principal at N.P. Trist Middle School in Chalmette, spending each ensuing summer as the principal of St. Bernard Parish’s summer school, which served about 500 students in grades 3-8. Mahl also spent the summer of 2008 as the summer school principal and supervisor of summer LEAP testing at Roosevelt Middle School in Kenner.
Before being named to her new role as principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mahl served for 12 years as an administrator at John Quincy Adams Middle School in Metairie, initially as the school’s dean of student services, and later as its assistant principal.
Mahl, a graduate of the Sts. Peter and Paul School and the Academy of the Holy Angels in New Orleans, earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education/special education and a master’s degree in educational administration at the University of New Orleans.
“As principal of Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, I aspire to educate the whole child by supporting our staff as they guide students in the development of both mind and spirit,” Mahl said. “I look forward to working with students, parents, teachers and staff to create an educational community that encourages and inspires children to learn.
“My greatest reward is knowing I will be instrumental in helping our students acquire an excellent academic education and develop into true disciples of their faith by knowing Jesus, following Jesus and making Jesus known to others.”
– Beth Donze