Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien named Dr. Barbara Edmondson, principal of School of the Incarnation in Gambrills, interim Superintendent of Schools.
In a July 12 letter to pastors, pastoral life directors and principals, he said Dr. Edmondson had an impressive resume.
“Her exceptional service as principal of School of the Incarnation in Gambrills has earned her many acquaintances among educators and clergy alike,” he wrote, “and a reputation that played an important part in my decision to appoint her to this important post.”
Edmondson replaces Dr. Ronald J. Valenti, who left his post after more than two decades.
The archbishop closed 13 schools in the archdiocese this spring. Enrollment numbers have dropped across the archdiocese precipitously in the last five years as tuition rates have continued to increase. Schools have faced major financially crises.
Edmondson begins her position July 19. Her replacement at School of the Incarnation has not been named.
Mary Pat Seurkamp, president of the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, is heading up the search for a permanent superintendent. Seurkamp served on the archbishop’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Catholic Schools, which developed a strategic plan for the archdiocesan school system.
“We feel strongly that the position is so important and critical to the success of our school system that we must be deliberate and thorough in our search,” the archbishop wrote. “With a strategic plan in place and committed teachers and enthusiastic benefactors, we are confident that we will have an opportunity to choose from the best educators in the United States to guide our schools during this new era in Catholic education in our archdiocese.”
Edmondson said that in accepting the position, she wants to make sure schools are moving forward and doing well. She said the challenges are two-fold: launching and implementing the recommendations of the strategic plan and to build the people of the Catholic schools up again.
“It has been a difficult year and there’s a lot of uncertainty about where we’re going from here,” she said. “I think my greatest priority, as a starting point, is really to bring the leadership of our schools together and let them know we’re colleagues in this and collaborators in this and to work together to make their schools the best.”
She was School of the Incarnation’s founding principal 10 years ago and helped build it into a thriving institution. Prior to 2000, she was a principal in the Archdiocese of Washington for five years.
She has taught kindergarten and was a professor in George Washington University’s School of Education and Human Development. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s in education psychology and a doctorate in education.
She is the mother of four children, with two attending School of the Incarnation and two at St. Mary’s High School in Annapolis.
Edmondson said she has a collaborative leadership style.
“I really thrive on strong relationships with people,” she said. “I try to value their work and to support them and challenge them as well.”
She said Catholic education is still vital.
“I think probably in the 21st century, more than ever, we need Catholic schools, in terms of not only educating our children but academically,” Dr. Edmondson said. “The children understand they are part of a community and that they have an obligation to care for other people.”