Exploring new frontiers: Four principals move on
Every year the diocese has at least one principal retire or move on to another post, but this year is especially poignant as four communities say goodbye — and thank you — to women who have guided their children and their schools through a generation of students.
During her 26 years at St. Andrew in Myrtle Beach, Halasz served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal, and parent, and said the school is a part of her body and blood. “It’s been a good fit and I’m going to miss it.”
The future: Her primary plan is to spend more time with family, including her 98-year-old mother and her four grandchildren, all under the age of 20 months. Since the little ones live in Charleston, Greenville and Charlotte, Halasz said she’ll be traveling a lot, driving in a loop from one spot to the next. “I’m super excited to spend time with the grandbabies,” she said.
Best part of the job: Seeing the kids start in kindergarten and watching them grow and mature through each grade to middle school graduation.
The tough part: Halasz said the hardest aspect is learning to deal with multiple personalities and always find the median ground, adding that you have to develop thick skin and have faith you’re making the right decision. “A lot of prayer goes into this job,” she said with a smile.
Advice to successor: “Take each day as it comes and know there will be a new day tomorrow. Put your faith in God because He will take care of you.”
Summerville Catholic has been home to Tanner for 22 years. She said her children went to school there and she hopes that, maybe soon, her grandchildren will too. She has served as a third-grade teacher, taught history to junior high students, and worked as assistant principal and principal.
The future: Her husband Charles has retired, so they’re going to travel across the country in an RV and camp in national parks along the way, all the way to the west coast and back. She said she’s never been out west, and is excited about seeing all the beautiful, natural landmarks in the U.S. Tanner said she may even write a book, probably about the misadventures they are sure to have along the way.
Best part of the job: Greeting the children every day with their smiling faces. Tanner said it’s uplifting because the students are always so excited and happy.
The tough part: Having to leave it all behind. She has hopes, though, that her grandchildren — a 3-year-old and a 3-month-old — will attend the school and she can still be part of things as a grandparent.
Advice to successor: “Be passionate about what you’re doing.”
Lucky 13 — that’s how long Tracy has been at Blessed Sacrament as a teacher and principal. Before that, she was on the committee that started Charleston Catholic, where she served as a teacher and assistant principal. “This was a plan of mine my entire career and I have loved it.”
The future: Although she would like to slow down a bit from the 24-hour, 7-day-a-week feel of being a principal, Tracy said she is nowhere near ready to completely retire. Her husband is still working and she doesn’t have grandchildren (yet), so she is keeping her ears open for something new and interesting in the field of education.
Best part of the job: “I’m going to miss the relationship that I’ve been able to build with all of the children. Being with the kids — that’s the easy part; that’s the great part of the day.”
The tough part: Evening meetings in particular. She said the intensity of the time it takes, often 12-14 hours a day, is a big commitment.
Advice to successor: “Make every day a new day and take pleasure in the little things,” she said, such as holding the hand of a 4-year-old and having her look up at you with a happy smile. And that advice is to everyone.
Sister Catherine Noecker
The past two years have marked some major milestones for Sister Catherine, OSF, as she celebrated 25 years as principal at St. Anthony of Padua and marked the opening of the brand new school, both in 2013. At the time, she said she wanted to enjoy the moment and await new direction from God.
The future: After a long career in education, the Franciscan is feeling a call to mission work. “I would like to work with mission advancement and spend some time with our sisters on the island of Molokai,” she said. The Sisters of St. Francis have served the poor and sick on the Hawaiian islands since 1883, when Mother Marianne Cope first volunteered to help those suffering from leprosy.
Best part of the job: Sister Catherine has always been a compassionate and loving presence, quick with a hug and a smile. Her greatest joy as principal is “watching children and teachers grow in wisdom, age, and grace.”
The tough part: “Knowing that when the students leave it may be a very long time before you see them again.”
Advice to successor: “Be very alert to the signs of the times and to the needs of our families.”