New OLA principal appointed

John-Paul Barnaba will serve as Our Lady of the Assumption School’s new principal.
Photo by Elissa I. Davidson

The new principal of Our Lady of the Assumption School will showcase the greatness of its students and school.

John-Paul Barnaba was recently selected as OLA’s new principal which went into effect this past July 1.

Barnaba succeeds Anthony Puelo, OLA’s principal for the past five years who now serves as principal at St. Barnabas Parish Elementary School.

According to Barnaba, he arrived on the cusp of the Archdiocese of New York’s Retirement Incentive for school administrators over 60-years of age.

He added the Pelham Bay-based Catholic elementary school witnessed 50% of its staff qualifying for this incentive resulting in a search for new teachers specializing in technology and/or special education and special services.

The sole Bronx Catholic elementary school named a Blue Ribbon School in the last decade, Barnaba is determined for OLA to maintain its high academic standard.

Born in Commack, Long Island and residing now in Astoria, Queens, Barnaba, a St. Anthony’s High School graduate, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from University of Northern Carolina in 2001.

In 2003, he completed his graduate studies at Stony Brook University earning a master’s degree in public policy and earned his master’s in school leadership from St. John’s University in 2015.

He worked briefly in politics and campaigning until finding his true calling in education.

While working on his master’s degree at Stony Brook University, Barnaba worked as a track coach at Kellenberg Memorial High School when he experienced this change of heart.

“Being able to teach there and seeing these young athletes learn and achieve more, I realized I had a part in their success and it made me think maybe Catholic education is the right path for me,” he explained.

Barnaba is a Curran Principal Academy graduate with a wealth of administrative experience and has an extensive educational career.

He served as a 7th and 8th grade teacher at Nativity of Our Blessed Lady since 2003 teaching religion, math, English language arts and social studies; taught math and reading for grades 2nd through 6th at Transfiguration School’s summer enrichment program in Chinatown in New York City and as an adjunct instructor at New York Institute for Technology teaching college freshman and sophomore level social sciences such as philosophy and history.

When the principal position at OLA opened up, associated superintendent for School Leadership Steven Virgadamo contacted Barnaba to see if he would be interested.

Barnaba came in for an interview before a search committee comprised of Virgadamo, Regional Superintendent Roseann Carotenuto, OLA pastor Monsignor Anthony Marchitelli and OLA parents and teachers and was appointed after proving his qualifications.

Last week, Barnaba attended a three-day principal’s retreat at Wagner College in Staten Island to aid new principals better understand Catholic school’s unique religious fusion as as well as how Catholic schools within the Archdiocese operate.

Eager to start, he said nine new OLA teachers were appointed this new school term, along with the opening of three Universal Pre-K classes at the school.

Barnaba has started scheduling new extracurricular activities for OLA including math and reading clubs and a Special Education Support System, an after school resource center for students with special needs.

“We’re trying to create a culture of opportunity here at the school and we want people to see the greatness OLA has to offer everyone,” he shared.

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