As the 2022-2023 school year begins, Catholic schools in the Diocese of Trenton will welcome 12 new principals, each bringing strong academic credentials, a wide range of career experiences and a desire to lead communities of education in the Catholic faith tradition. They are each profiled below:

Jennifer Magrini-Conover – St. Rose Grammar School, Belmar

PARISH: St Rose, Belmar

EDUCATION:  Elon College, Elon, N.C., bachelor of arts, English Education; Georgian Court University, Lakewood, master of arts in Education Administration, Supervision and Curriculum Design

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: St Rose High School, Belmar, where for 21 years served as an English teacher and English Department Supervisor

 WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE?: Catholic education is an amazing community of people who are all working towards the same goal: students who are strong in a foundation of faith and academics. There is a special atmosphere in Catholic schools where we can give all we can and have the support of our community to do what is best for our children. 

Robert Dougherty – St. Rose High School, Belmar

PARISH: St. Rose, Belmar

EDUCATION: The College of New Jersey, Bachelors of Science in Education; Seton Hall University, South Orange, Master’s in Educational Leadership, Management, and Policy

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Principal Certification, Supervisors Certification.

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE:  Lacey Township High School, five years as a teacher and coach

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: School supervisor and principal at Mill Pond Elementary School, Lacey Township School District; principal of St. Catharine School, Spring Lake, for six years, during which time the school was honored in 2018 as an Exemplary High Performing National Blue Ribbon School.

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE? As a Catholic educator, I find myself responsible to foster and develop our students’ relationship with God and guide them on their own unique journey in faith. The opportunity at SRHS excites me to have the chance to positively impact the lives of young men and women at such a critical moment within their lives while also embracing a new challenge where I can drive even further positive growth for Catholic education.

Caroline Fitzgerald – St. Leo the Great School, Lincroft

PARISH: St. Leo the Great, Lincroft

EDUCATION: Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y., Bachelor’s degree in business with a marketing concentration; Monmouth University, West Long Branch, Master’s degree in Education/School Counseling; Seton Hall University, South Orange, Master’s degree in educational leadership and administration

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: St. Leo the Great School counselor, second grade teacher.

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: St. Leo the Great School, vice principal, three years 

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE? One of the best ways to form a firm foundation of faith and bring it forward to a new generation. It made me who I am. I have been at St. Leo’s since the fifth grade, and made my Sacraments here, and I have deep roots here. Catholic education reminds us of the calling of Jesus.

Maria M. Spirito-Iavarone – St. Paul School, Burlington

PARISH: St. Raphael-Holy Angels, Hamilton

EDUCATION: Trenton State College, Ewing, Bachelor of Science Degree in Education with a minor in Psychology, 1992; The College of New Jersey, Ewing,

Master’s of Education Degree in Educational Leadership, 2008

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Cosmetology License State of New Jersey

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Tomorrow’s Stars Preschool, Hamilton Pre-k, 2 years; Trenton Public Schools, 20 years experience in a K-8 elementary school. Mentored and given administrative duties by principal: chairperson of the school leadership committee, facilitated events for the school social committee, started a conflict resolution program, turn-keyed professional development, filled in as acting school principal in the absence of principal.

QUOTE: “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all” Aristotle

Jeff Johnson – St. Charles Borromeo School, Cinnaminson

PARISH: St. Mary, Middletown 

EDUCATION: Wadhams Hall Seminary College, Ogdensburg, N.Y., Bachelor of Arts, Philosophy; Christ the King Seminary, East Aurora, N.Y., Master of Arts, Theology;  Seton Hall University, South Orange, Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Theology teacher, St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, 16 years

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: Campus Ministry, St. John Vianney High School, Holmdel, 16 years

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: I’ve always been inspired by a quote from Benedict XVI’s encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est.” In the very beginning of the document he says, “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.”

For me, that means that true discipleship – which is what we strive to foster in our students – only comes when students have a genuine encounter with Christ which transforms the values and purpose in their life. Catholic schools have unbelievable potential to become privileged places of encounter with God for our students – through our prayer and liturgy, the content we teach, the relationships between teacher and student, and the overall school environment. In my estimation, Catholic schools – in everything they do – are touchstones to our living God!

Jillian Grace Kelly – Donovan Catholic, Toms River

PARISH: St. Clare Parish, Staten Island, N.Y. 

EDUCATION: University of Scranton, Scranton, Pa., Bachelor’s and Master of Science degrees in Education  

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: (In Process) Villanova Certificate in School Management in Villanova University, Villanova, Pa.

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Eighteen years of teaching experience that includes Our Lady of Fatima Grammar School, Piscataway, and St. James Grammar School, Woodbridge, in the Diocese of Metuchen and three Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese of New York.

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: Our Lady of Fatima School: Director of Advancement and Development and assistant to the principal for curriculum; St. James School: NJ - AdvancEd Coordinator for Leadership and Governance, Professional Learning Committee coordinator, report card committee for the Diocese of Metuchen, and Safety Drill Coordinator; Moore Catholic High School, Staten Island: Campus minister, religion department chair, Cognia chairperson, and volleyball coach. 2 years; Donovan Catholic High School: vice principal, 2 years. 

WHY SERVING IN THE MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT: The ministry of Catholic education is a special vocation that I am blessed to have received the call and the opportunity to live my faith every day serving as a leader while being a witness to the Good News. The simple joys of starting the school day with a prayer makes all the difference in my life as the principal of Donovan Catholic.

Christopher McCarrick – Holy Cross Academy, Rumson

PARISH: Holy Cross, Rumson

EDUCATION: Kean University, Union, Bachelor’s degree in Mathematical Sciences with Teacher Certification; Montclair State University, Montclair,

Master’s degree in Educational Leadership

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Villanova University, Villanova, Pa. - Certificate in Catholic School Management (in progress)

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Red Bank Charter School, Red Bank, Math/STEM, seven years

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: Holy Cross Academy, Rumson, Vice Principal, two years 

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT / WORTHWHILE: There is nothing that can compare to Catholic education – the individualized instruction, the deep connections to students and families, the all-in faculty and staff, and a curriculum that is rigorous and encompassing of our Catholic beliefs and virtues. Our students grow academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually, so that they may fully discover the person God created them to be. I am excited to lead Holy Cross Academy as we all work together to educate the next generation of Catholic leaders!

Katie O’Meara – Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park

PARISH: Mother of Mercy Parish, Asbury Park

EDUCATION: New Jersey City University, Jersey City, Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and in early childhood with a concentration in urban education. 

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Currently pursuing a master of arts in administration and leadership in Georgian Court University, Lakewood

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Served in Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park, since 2011 as: Kindergarten Aide for one year; fourth grade teacher for eight years; eighth grade teacher for one year

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Asbury Park, began working as vice principal in 2015 while also teaching in the classroom; became a full time vice principal in September 2020 and continued until June 2022.   

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT: Being educated in Catholic schools has greatly influenced my life. I have been blessed with some extraordinary teachers, one in particular. She lives her life in service to God and neighbor. Working in Catholic education allows me to follow in her footsteps and provide quality education rooted in our faith to future generations. 

Joseph Slavin – St. Raphael School, Hamilton

PARISH: St. Raphael-Holy Angels, Hamilton

EDUCATION: Bachelor’s degree in social studies education, Trenton State College, Ewing; master’s degree in education from Trenton State College, Ewing

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: Principal and superintendent certificate, NJEXCEL, Monroe

 PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Served a total of 13 years as a seventh grade geography teacher in Reynolds and Crocket Middle Schools, Hamilton Township

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: Over the course of 20 years, served as social studies supervisor, vice principal, principal, assistant superintendent and superintendent, all in the Hamilton Township School system

QUOTE: Faith: it does not make things easy, it makes things possible. (Luke 1:37)

Cynthia Smith – Our Lady of Good Counsel School, Moorestown

PARISH: St. Teresa of Calcutta, Collingswood (Camden Diocese)

EDUCATION: University of Delaware, Newark, Del.; Rowan University, Glassboro, bachelor of science degree in elementary education; pursued graduate work in math, science and technology through an Eisenhower Grant;  Wilmington University, Wilmington, Del., where she earned a master of education in school leadership.

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: St. Charles Borromeo School, Cinnaminson, two years, followed by a nearly 30-year career in Camden public schools. Also served as a Priority Schools Consultant for the New Jersey Education Association and as student teaching supervisor for Rutgers University.

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: principal, Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, Maple Shade, two years; St. Charles Borromeo School, Cinnaminson, two years. Professional affiliations: National Catholic Educational Association; National Association for the Education of Young Children, and the National Education Association/New Jersey Education Association/Camden Education Association.

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: Serving in the ministry of Catholic education is important because children learn the faith through prayer, liturgy and service to others. They become members of a community of people with shared values who demonstrate their love of God in all they do.

Donna White – St. Catharine School, Spring Lake

PARISH: St. Catharine and St. Margaret, Spring Lake 

EDUCATION: Rowan University, Glassboro, Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education; Rutgers University, New Brunswick, Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing; NJ EXCEL, Administrative Certification 

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Served for 30 years in public education as a teacher of English, department chair, supervisor and principal in the Buena Regional Schools, Montgomery Township Schools, Monroe Township Schools, Hopewell Valley Regional School District and Piscataway Township Schools.

PREVIOUS SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION EXPERIENCE: Principal, Conackamack Middle School, Piscataway, 12 years.

Donnamarie Wojtoko – Sacred Heart School, Mount Holly

PARISH: Sacred Heart, Mount Holly

EDUCATION: Rowan University, Glassboro, Bachelor of Arts degree; Rider University, Lawrenceville, Master of Arts degree

ADDITIONAL CERTIFICATION: State Certificates: Director of Student Personnel Services, Supervisor, Student Personnel Services, Substance Awareness Coordinator, Elementary School teacher, Teacher of Nursery School, Teacher of Music

PREVIOUS TEACHING EXPERIENCE: Served approximately 40 years in education in Sacred Heart School; Lumberton Township Schools; Tabernacle Township Schools; Buttonwood Nursery School; Mount Holly Township Schools.

WHY SERVING IN MINISTRY OF CATHOLIC EDUCATION IS IMPORTANT/WORTHWHILE: It is so important that we provide a “Christ centered” education for our youth. By doing so, we can instill a deep love of Christ and a desire to live following His example.  These are desperately lacking in many of today’s youth.