The start of the school year is marked with new beginnings – new teachers, new classes, and for some, new classmates. At five Catholic schools, the 2013-2014 academic year also brought new principals, who will lead the children in their educations and faith journeys. Henry Fortier, superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Orlando, said the incoming class of principals brings a wealth of educational experiences as well as a deep love and knowledge of their faith. The new leaders officially began their duties on July 1. They share their thoughts on the value of a Catholic education.
Gloria Del Orbe, Holy Redeemer Catholic School in Kissimmee
Prior to being named principal at Holy Redeemer Catholic School, Gloria Del Orbe served as assistant principal at Holy Family Catholic School for two years and as the media specialist and a middle school teacher at Good Shepherd Catholic School for three years, both in Orlando. Del Orbe holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Rollins College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Barry University in Miami.
“My role in the lives of our children is to help them become active learners, compassionate citizens and faithful followers of Jesus Christ, Our Savior,” Del Orbe said. “The value of Catholic Education is to teach our students to actively live and proclaim the Gospel message, create a community where Christ is experienced, and serve our brothers and sisters unconditionally, locally and globally.”
Tammi Haas, St. Joseph Catholic School, Winter Haven
After teaching classes for eight years at St. Joseph Catholic School, Tammi Haas has been named the school’s principal. Haas holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Flagler College, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of South Florida.
“As principal, I hope to continue to build upon the rich Catholic traditions and strong academic programs that make St. Joseph Catholic School a special place to partner with parents to educate their children,” Haas said. “As Catholic educators, we are given the special gift to help our children to grow in their faith while serving God.”
Patricia Kahle, Annunciation Catholic Academy, Altamonte Springs
Patricia Kahle is a founding faculty member at Annunciation Catholic Academy, teaching middle social social studies for 11 years before being named assistant principal in 2007, a position she held until her latest appointment. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social science education from Florida Southern College and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale.
“The value of a Catholic education is being a member of a Christ-centered community, growing together in faith, and striving to provide the youth of our Church the guidance, skills, and Catholic values that are essential to becoming successful Catholics in the world today,” Kahle said.
Philip Gorrassi, St. Brendan Catholic School, Ormond Beach
Philip Gorrassi hails from New York, bringing with him more than 30 years of educational and leadership experience. Among his most recent appointments are associate superintendent for Mission Effectiveness for the Archdiocese of New York and principal at Sacred Heart/Mt. Carmel School for the Arts in Mt. Vernon, New York. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English education from Manhattan College, Bronx; a master’s degree in religious studies from the Institute of Religious Studies, St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers; and a professional diploma in school district administration from Iona College in New Rochelle.
“A Catholic education is a priceless gift,” he continued. “Not only do we provide strong academics but more importantly, we provide a grounding in the Catholic faith, the faith that we love and live. By instilling this faith in all we do, we give our students the ability to cope with all that life presents. We make them faithful members of the Church and productive citizens of our beloved country.”
Kenn Hitchcock, Our Saviour Catholic School, Cocoa Beach
Kenn Hitchcock returned to the Diocese of Orlando after serving as a principal and assistant principal in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Earlier, he was the assistant principal at Resurrection Catholic School in Lakeland from 2006-2011. He holds a bachelor’s degree in education/history at Sacred Heart University, and a master’s degree in education and a certificate of advanced studies in educational administration, both from Fairfield University, all located in Fairfield, Conn.
“The value of a Catholic education is that we create students who are counter-cultural. We stand up for what is right, we care for and assist others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves, we value the sanctity of life and all creation, we believe that everyone has value as a human being and this also calls for us to get along with others,” Hitchcock said.