Diocesan schools welcome new principals to begin school year

By Bill Brewer

The Diocese of Knoxville Office of Catholic Schools will welcome three new principals as the 2019-20 school year gets underway.

Darlene Lyons is the principal at St. Dominic School in Kingsport, succeeding Tucker Davis, who retired at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

Mrs. Lyons taught at St. Mary School in Johnson City before being named St. Dominic’s leader. With master’s degrees in religion, reading, and education, she was ready to step into administration.

“My goal is to build on this school’s faith and academics. My focus is to help our teachers in any way I can, including with professional development. Anything I can do to help them I also help our students,” Mrs. Lyons said.

The Dante, Va., native attended on occasion St. Dominic Church as a child and feels a special connection with the faith community.

“My faith is very near and dear to me. This is not a job for me. It is my ministry,” she said. “So my goal also is to help our students succeed and be their best. I plan to address the whole child, academically, spiritually, socially.”

Mr. Jette

Paul Jette is the new principal at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School in Chattanooga. He succeeds Leslie Fox, who retired.

Mr. Jette was principal at Mater Christi School in Burlington, Vt., for four years before retiring. Before that, he was a dean of students at a private school in Massachusetts. He also taught at a school in Cleveland, Tenn.

“God gives everybody gifts, and my gift is working with students. That is what I enjoy,” Mr. Jette said. “I’ve always wanted to work in Catholic schools. I have a lot of experience in running different types of schools.”

As the school year gets underway, Mr. Jette said his main goal is to continue building on OLPH’s solid school community and strong academics, and to also increase enrollment.

He plans to do that by promoting the school’s advantages.

“Like with all Catholic schools, we have to increase enrollment. There are a lot of good people at OLPH, and we must get that out there. We need to expand our marketing to increase enrollment,” he said. “I’m working hard at increasing the excitement at our school.”

Mr. Rodgers

Jake Rodgers joins Sacred Heart Cathedral School as principal after teaching English at Knoxville Catholic High School.

He succeeds Dan Breen.

Mr. Rodgers wants to build on the successes Sacred Heart has made.

“Sacred Heart Cathedral School has a legacy of academic excellence, a team of extraordinary teachers, a rich curriculum, and a dedicated community. My goal as principal is to uphold this legacy and empower teachers to invest in our students. It’s a joy to journey with students as they learn to sing in harmony, compose thoughtful arguments, master mathematical concepts, practice the fundamentals of a sport, and learn to see the beauty of a world that, as poet Gerard Manley Hopkins writes, is ‘charged with the grandeur of God.’ We will create a school where students pursue the good and are fully alive to glorify God,” Mr. Rodgers said.

His goal is to see Sacred Heart reach its potential.

“Over the past months, I’ve witnessed our parents, grandparents, staff, and teachers make joyful sacrifices to transform student lives with the gift of excellent, Christ-centered education. It’s exciting to think of the potential this school has to be a benchmark institution in Catholic education. I hope to build on Sacred Heart’s unique heritage; our academic program needs to stay current to help our students cultivate the critical-thinking skills and creativity necessary for success in a global economy and an ever-changing world. Above all, we need to stay true to our important mission and purpose: preparing students for a life of service for God.”

Mr. Arwood

David Arwood is relatively new to St. Mary School in Johnson City. He is beginning his second year as principal.

“We believe our school to be a place where we create a faith-filled, learning community that nurtures each child. Our vision statement emphasizes that every child is a gift from God. St. Mary’s School understands parents need support as the primary educators of their children. As such, our school day revolves around prayer and a rigorous academic curriculum,” he said. “Our students’ success demonstrates our love for God and learning.”

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