WEBSTER — It didn’t take long for Nancy Ferrarone to decide that St. Rita School was a place she wanted to be. In fact, she knew it within the first few moments of her job interview with Father Timothy Niven, pastor of St. Rita Parish.
Ferrarone was interviewing for the open principal position at the Webster school, and Father Niven opened the interview with a prayer specifically tailored for the occasion, Ferrarone said.
“It was a very formal event, but yet it was a (prayer) very specific to the moment and inviting, and I thought how wonderful that was. That was very telling of the community, and I thought, ‘I think I’m going to like this community,’” Ferrarone recalled.
She ultimately was hired and started as principal Aug. 1. Although she’s only been at St. Rita School for a few weeks, she continues to be impressed by the school community.
“It’s been a beautiful place. It really is very welcoming,” she said.
New principal returns to her roots in the Rochester region
Taking up her new post at St. Rita has been a homecoming of sorts for Ferrarone, who grew up in the Rochester region. She studied business at St. John Fisher University in Pittsford but wasn’t passionate about the business world. Eventually, however, she discerned a calling to the field of education.
“I had children, and then I went back to school for education, and it just clicked. Everything clicked,” explained Ferrarone, who now has three grown children and six grandchildren.
She went back to school at Nazareth College in Pittsford, where she earned her master’s degree in education. She taught in the Rochester City School District and the Fairport Central School District for several years. She later earned her degree in school administration from SUNY Oswego.
“I had a feeling that I could do more, offer more to the community,” she said of her decision to become an administrator.
After several years working in the Rochester area, Ferrarone moved downstate and served as an administrator, first in the Brewster Central School District and later in the Spackenkill Union Free School District. After nearly two decades in the Hudson Valley region, she took a job in the Syracuse area to be closer to her family in Rochester.
Catholic schools a welcome change for administrator with long history in public education
Her time as principal of Immaculate Conception School in Fayetteville — a part of the Diocese of Syracuse — marked her first foray into Catholic education and was an overwhelmingly positive experience, she said.
“It was such a wonderful change in the culture, the commitment, the strong values that people had and their commitment to the Catholic faith,” Ferrarone said. “The community embraced me. It was like home.”
Although Ferrarone enjoyed the school community at Immaculate Conception, her extended family encouraged her to look for a job that was even closer to Rochester. She applied for the principal position at St. Rita School and the rest, as they say, is history.
At St. Rita, Ferrarone found a warm, welcoming and deeply faithful community much like the one she’d been a part of at Immaculate Conception.
“They have that same welcoming persona that I saw when I was over in Syracuse that made me love being in a Catholic community,” Ferrarone said. “I see it here in everyone. I see it in the parents who are coming to the school looking for that same commitment to faith, as well as their strong commitment to the values that they have.”
New principal intends to continue St. Rita School’s legacy
The parents, staff and students at St. Rita sincerely welcome newcomers, such as herself, to what is a very tight-knit community, she added.
“When you meet someone, you see how deep-rooted their history (with the school) is, and how they always seem to be connected with somebody else who has been a part of the school, not just for years but for generations. Generations have been here, and they all talk about their memories and commitment and love for the school,” Ferrarone said.
Knowing that St. Rita School is so important to so many people in the community strengthens Ferrarone’s resolve to work hard and do her best to lead the school — which was founded in 1955 — into the future.
“I want to do what the school community wants. I am here … to continue the legacy of this school here and just continue to move it forward, to continue the education of our students,” she said.Tags: Catholic Schools, Monroe County East