Scanlan welcomes first secular principal

After 25 years working at Monsignor Scanlan High School, Emily Padilla-Bradley has become the first lay principal to lead the institution.

Padilla-Bradley, who started at the school as a Spanish teacher in 1985 and has lent her hand on everything from organizing the school’s international festivals to being cheerleading coach, began her new term as principal of the 500-student school on July 1.

“I enjoy working here,” she said. “I really, really enjoy working with the families. I still have many alums who contact me from years ago who now have kids here. I just enjoy coming to the campus everyday. It’s a beautiful campus. It’s like a college campus, and I love being in that environment.”

A Bronx native, Padilla-Bradley graduated from St. Peter and Paul Elementary school and from Aquinas High School. She went to Pace University, where she majored in Spanish and minored in Education. She earned a master’s degree there in School Administration and Supervision.

She began at Scanlan as a Spanish teacher, and became the dean of students in 1988. She continued to teach the language while she was dean, and even when she became chairwoman of the language department in 1994.

In 2001 she was made assistant principal of education, which meant she had to stop teaching Spanish. But she has been the assistant principal ever since; first under Sister Marie O’Donnell, who is the current president of the school, and then under her predecessor, Sister Ann Marie Fisher.

According to O’Donnell, after the abrupt departure of Sr. Fisher school officials quickly chose Padilla-Bradley to head the school because of her history and her report with the students.

“We are always looking for somebody who demonstrates the kind of dedication and the zeal for education that Mrs. Padilla-Bradley has shown since she has been here,” O’Donnell said. “She has the spirit and everything we want in a leader for Catholic education in the years 2010 in beyond. She has demonstrated that in the decisions she has made. She has compassion when it’s needed, and a firm hand when needed.”

Since starting, Padilla-Bradley said she has been busy meeting with students, making decisions and answering lots of phone calls.

When the school year starts, she expects to get even busier as she starts unrolling her plans to raise students’s scores on standardized tests and to encourage more students to sign up for the advanced Regents tests.

During her term as principal she also hopes to merge the school more with the outside community.

“I want more students and faculty reaching out to the community as a team, doing more community service projects, and generally just having our students more active,” she said.

She also hopes to encourage the school’s athletic program, which recently produced the Division B varsity basketball champions.

“We’re very proud of that, and weplan to continue to celebrate that for yeas to come,’ she said. “It had been 17 years since we won that, and my hope is to have more sports available for students.”

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