Pope Francis High School Announces New Head of School
CHICOPEE — Pope Francis High School, a faith-based college-preparatory school serving grades 9-12, announced W. Paul Harrington Jr. as its new head of school following a lengthy nationwide search. Michele D’Amour, Pope Francis High School board chair, shared the news with faculty, staff, students, and parents this week.
“Working in conjunction with our independent search counsel, Boston-based Partners in Mission School Leadership Search Solutions — a national retained search and recruiting firm devoted exclusively to developing excellence in Catholic school executive leadership — the search committee vetted, interviewed, and evaluated an extensive pool of credible candidates excited to lead our school community into its promising future,” said D’Amour. “The search committee included representatives of our clergy, faculty, parent, board, legacy alumni, and community constituencies.”
Harrington was one of two “exceptional” candidates that were considered for the next head of school, said D’Amour. A native of Holliston, Harrington holds a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in economics from Fairfield University, and a master’s degree in school administration from Loyola Marymount University. He received his doctorate in educational leadership at the University of Southern California. He received the unanimous recommendation of the search committee, approval by the Pope Francis High School Board of directors, and the affirmation of Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski.
“I am very pleased and excited that Dr. Harrington has accepted the position as the new head of school for Pope Francis High School,” said Rozanski. “Having personally met with him, I believe he has the vision that will help us realize the full potential for this new school, both academically and spiritually.”
The creation of Pope Francis High School was announced in the spring of 2015 when Rozanski revealed that Cathedral High School and Holyoke Catholic High School would be merging into a new school, named in honor of the current pope. The two schools officially merged in July 2016 with students starting the school year in the former Holyoke Catholic building on Springfield Street in Chicopee. Construction on the new, 127,000-square-foot facility in Springfield is now underway, and the installation of structural steel is expected to be completed within the next month. As Harrington begins the transition into the head-of-school role, construction crews will begin to button up the building, installing exterior brick and stone veneer, roofing system, aluminum windows, and more.
In a statement to the Pope Francis High School Community, Harrington said he was inspired by the school’s passion for mission and commitment to excellence in Catholic education.
“I am humbled by this incredible opportunity to honor the rich traditions of Holyoke Catholic and Cathedral High Schools while inspiring a future filled with innovation, faith formation, and academic excellence as Pope Francis High School,” said Harrington. “I would like to thank the search committee, board of directors, and Bishop Rozanski for entrusting me with this opportunity to lead Pope Francis High School.”
Harrington will work with interim Head of School Thomas McDowell to ensure a smooth transition into the position. A welcome ceremony and reception with current students and their families, faculty, and staff will be planned to welcome Harrington and his family to Greater Springfield.
“The time has come for all of us to come together in Christian charity and humbly commit ourselves 100% to our exciting future,” said D’Amour. “Building trust and encouraging interdependence will prayerfully assure our survival and growth. I know that Dr. Harrington is personally committed to working with all of us in nurturing the souls of the young men and women who are entrusted to our care.”