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New principals make history


Two Catholic all-boys schools have announced the history-making appointments of new principals who will take the helm in 2022.

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In an historic move, Rostrevor College has appointed its first female principal, Shana Bennett, while Blackfriars Priory School will for the first time have a former student, David Ruggiero, as its leader.

In an announcement yesterday, Edmund Rice Education Australia, the governing body which operates Rostrevor College, said it was delighted to have Ms Bennett join the college of 920 students, just ahead of its centenary year in 2023.

“We are very excited to usher in the next century of Catholic education at Rostrevor College with such a dynamic, experienced and well-respected principal,” EREA executive director Dr Craig Wattam said.

“We were impressed by Shana’s deep commitment to our mission of offering a liberating education, based on a gospel spirituality, within an inclusive community committed to justice and solidarity.

“Shana is an exceptional educator and a very experienced leader in Catholic and boys’ education, with significant experience in the R-12 setting.”

Ms Bennett, who is currently the deputy principal at Sacred Heart College and will make history as the first female principal of any all-boys school in South Australia, said teaching and supporting boys was second nature to her.

“I have been educating boys in the Catholic education sector for the past 20 years,” she said.

“Boys do learn differently but I believe it is the quality of relationship between learner and educator that is most important. I look forward to working alongside the many experienced educators at Rostrevor who understand boys and how they learn, and who enjoy bringing out the best in every student.”

In announcing Ms Bennett’s appointment, Dr Wattam also praised 2021 acting principal Frank Ranaldo for his leadership.

“Under Mr Ranaldo’s wise and generous leadership, Rostrevor College has continued its strong pastoral care and academic excellence and delivered South Australia’s newest boarding facilities and set a path for further expansion and upgrades with a revitalised college master plan,” Dr Wattam said.

“During this period of transition, we are very grateful for Frank’s care for Rostrevor students and staff and his magnificent contribution.”

In late August Blackfriars Priory School announced that David Ruggiero will take over as principal next year, the first time in the school’s history that a former student has been appointed to this role.

It follows the announcement in May of the retirement of Simon Cobiac at the end of 2021.

David Ruggiero

Mr Ruggiero is well known to the school having served as deputy principal and APRIM since 2012. He has extensive experience in senior roles across a number of schools including Marymount College, CBC, St Paul’s College and St Columba College, in addition to Blackfriars.

Announcing the appointment, together with Dominican Prior Provincial Fr Anthony Walsh OP, Blackfriars board chair David O’Loughlin said Mr Ruggiero’s breadth of experience and exposure to a variety of teaching methods, school cultures and co-curricular activities was considered a “great strength”.

“Equally, David’s professional development throughout these and more recent years has been comprehensive, both in formal training and exposure to development opportunities at the highest levels in the sector,” he said.

“In addition, David’s demonstrated appreciation of the Dominican search for truth and its application in education, his passion for the Catholic faith and identity of the school, his commitment to the fundamental importance of a vibrant and diverse co-curricular program, and his very positive track record of professional executive leadership at the school since 2012, all served to strengthen the call for his appointment.

“As a former student, a long-term member of staff, and a highly regarded leader within the school, David’s commitment to the future of the school leaves little doubt he will embrace the opportunity expressed in his application ‘to lead Blackfriars Priory School as a globally recognised Catholic school of choice for exceptional and innovative education … that ignites and inspires the intellectual minds and hearts of boys’.”


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