Trinity Catholic seeks stability with new principal
STAMFORD — The senior class at Trinity Catholic High School is having an experience unlike any graduates in recent memory.
When they arrived in 2013 as freshmen, their principal was Tony Pavia. A new principal came in the following year; another in their junior year and Pavia returned as an interim this past fall. Last month, the Class of 2017 met their fourth principal in less than four years.
David Williams, who just signed a one-year contract with Trinity, has vowed to end an era of whiplash.
“Our primary job is to provide stability,” he said. “There needs to be that healing, that understanding that we are a very stable institution — we are a very proud institution.”
Williams and Pavia, who is staying on as a consultant, said there are big plans for this year.
“I don’t think there’s any way to duck the fact that there has been instability in the principal position,” Pavia said. “But I really feel we have a principal who’s going to be the principal for the future. He begins a new era, a new generation of leadership at the school, which was much needed.”
Williams, 40, comes from Stamford Academy, where he spent four years as high school principal. He previously worked as a teacher at Trailblazers Academy middle school.
The search for a new principal began in August, when Joseph Gerics resigned after only one year on the job. Gerics had replaced Mark Karagus, whose contract was not renewed.
Before Karagus was hired in 2014, Pavia had served as principal since the death of Robert D’Aquila, who died in 2010 after leading the school for seven years.
Despite an enrollment fluctuation at the Newfield Avenue school in the past few years, Pavia said the number of students has grown since 2011.
As of the beginning of this school year, Trinity had about 425 students. Pavia said there have been several transfers since then and enrollment is now higher than projected.
The freshman class last year was also 10 percent larger than the year before, according to the school’s 2015-16 annual report.
Pavia said the biggest obstacle in recruiting students is the cost of tuition, especially in a state with so many respected school districts.
“It’s always a challenge,” Pavia said. “You’re competing against the best schools in the country.”
Trinity’s annual tuition is about $13,000, though school officials say a high percentage of students have financial aid.
Pavia, a 1972 Trinity graduate, said the county’s “best-kept secret” does not receive as much recognition as it deserves. The now-former principal, who has worked at several areas schools, said Trinity’s family-like environment cannot be found anywhere in the region.
“Secondary schools are so pressured right now they’re not talking about school environment as much as they should be and they are not talking about building community,” said Pavia, who feels many schools in the region are “test-absorbed.”
Williams said Trinity’s atmosphere has already made an impact on him.
“From the moment that I first walked through the door, shaking hands with Tony, then shaking hands with the kids every single morning, with every single staff member, everyone is always smiling here,” he said.
Williams credits that warmth to an element he said is unique to faith-based schools.
“Here we get the opportunity to focus on spiritual growth as well,” he said. “You’re trying to create the total student, making sure they’re growing academically, but also socially and emotionally. That includes spiritual growth.”
Like most Catholic schools, Trinity students begin each day with prayer, study the Catholic faith and are encouraged to participate in community service projects and organized retreats throughout the year.
Pavia said Trinity embraces a diverse student body and has about 30 percent of non-Catholic students.
Among the projects Trinity plans to launch is a bridge program for international students seeking to apply for American colleges and a new learning academy for students with learning challenges.
Pavia said the Diocese of Bridgeport Catholic Schools is considering restructuring the five schools it runs in Stamford. The other four are Holy Spirit, St. Cecilia and Our Lady Star of the Sea elementary schools and Trinity Catholic Middle School.
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