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Principal's departure marks era of change

After 20 years, the principal of St. Paul Catholic School is calling it quits. She will be replaced by a lay administrator.

By SHEILA MULLANE ESTRADA

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 24, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- "It's time to leave," said Sister Kathleen Stagnaro, who is retiring after 10 years as principal of St. Paul Catholic School.

Sister Kathleen began teaching middle school mathematics at St. Paul 20 years ago, before there were calculators or computers.

"A lot has changed since then," she said. "Today we have a computer lab and computers in every classroom. Every morning, Eagles Nest News (ENN) broadcasts closed-circuit news to the entire school."

During Stagnaro's tenure as principal, St. Paul has added early childhood classes and expanded enrollment to include 4-year olds to eighth graders. There are 326 students. The school also has broadened its curriculum to include family life and AIDS education, Spanish and French classes, art, and a full day devoted to science.

St. Paul's, 1900 12th St. N, was founded in St. Petersburg in 1930 by a group of Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, N.Y. In the beginning, all the teachers and administrators were nuns. But as in other parochial schools, these positions gradually have been assumed by lay educators.

Sister Kathleen, who plans to take a sabbatical in Rome next year, will be replaced by Mrs. Louise Cusumano, who is experienced in both parochial and public school administration.

"I will miss the children and teachers terribly," said Sister Kathleen. "St. Paul is a wonderful, values-based school with a warm and friendly atmosphere."

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