Theresa E. Craig
Theresa E. Craig

Story by Lois Rogers | Correspondent

When the doors open for the first day of classes this year, students in Asbury Park’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel School will be greeted by their new principal, Theresa E. Craig.

She takes the helm from Sister of St. Joseph Jude Boyce, who served as principal for 14 years and begins the new year as the school’s director of development.

Craig, who has a background in public and private education, has successfully served several school districts during her educational career while including an active volunteer ministry in her parish, Immaculate Conception, Annandale. She also began her Catholic school teaching career there in 2007.

Craig said her primary goal for Our Lady of Mount Carmel is to maintain its long career in excellence in Catholic education while continuing to make Catholic school accessible to the multicultural community it has long served.

“I have had the opportunity to work in several school districts and learn from some wonderful professional educators,” she said. “Staying on the cutting edge of the issues and trends in teaching and learning will help to guide my new school.”

“Through collaboration with the staff and the further implementation of programs such as STREAM and our innovative after-school program, it is my goal to continue the long tradition of excellence,” she said.

Craig admits she was drawn to Mount Carmel during a search for a position as a school administrator. “There were several things that I had in mind, but first and foremost was that the school is the right fit” – that it shared her vision for education led the list of her requirements.

That meant a lot to Craig, who grew up in South Florida in a traditional Catholic family with her parents, a sister and four brothers.

Craig and her husband of 28 years, Jeff, have three children. The older two are college students and the youngest will attend St. Joseph’s High School, Metuchen, in the fall.

It is primarily through her children’s Catholic school attendance that she began to focus on Catholic education.

“I did not attend Catholic schools as a learner until I was a graduate student,” said Craig, who earned a bachelor of science in elementary education and psychology and a master of arts in education from The College of New Jersey, Ewing.

She began her public school career in a Trenton elementary school, then taught third-grade students for three years in Mountain Park Elementary School, Liburn, Ga., followed by seven years as a second-grade teacher in Califon.

“My first experience with Catholic school was when our children began attending our parish school, Immaculate Conception School, in 2005. It was through my involvement in that community that I developed a love for and deep commitment to Catholic education,” shared Craig.

At Mount Carmel, she is looking to build strong bonds with the community. At her side in fundraising endeavors will be Sister Jude, who said that as she begins her new ministry in development, she hopes to “continue building the relationships that have developed over the years that I’ve been here.”

“Many wonderful folks – among which are alumni, parishioners, personal friends, parents of former students – have been supporting Mount Carmel during my 14 years as principal.”