Principals typically get all the credit and all the blame for whatever happens at their schools, observed Mary Barrese-Frame, former principal of Good Shepherd School in Henrietta.
However, she maintains that her staff always made her look good.
"I was mostly getting credit because of them," said Barrese-Frame, who retired at the end of the 2007-08 school year.
Yet people who know her say Barrese-Frame does deserve the praise she received over the years. Speaking during a 50th-anniversary Mass and reception for Good Shepherd School May 31, Jean Brown, Good Shepherd Parish’s business manager, said that Barrese-Frame is noted for being able to lead schools through difficult transitions. These have included the closing of Good Shepherd School in June, and the 2005 merger of Greece’s St. Charles Borromeo School — where she had been principal — and Greece’s St. John the Evangelist School to form Catherine McAuley School.
"Closing a school is a daunting task, especially for a principal," said Brown, an alumna of Good Shepherd School. "Most never have to endure that. Mary has had to do that twice."
During that May 31 event, Barrese-Frame received a statue of the Good Shepherd as a token of the school’s appreciation for her second term at the school. She also taught seventh- and eighth-grade science at Good Shepherd from 1982-93.
When the junior-high grades of Good Shepherd and other schools were moved to centralized junior highs in 1993, she moved to Brighton’s Siena Catholic Academy, where she taught for three years. She then became vice principal of Irondequoit’s Northeastern Catholic Junior High School during the 1996-97 school year. That school was later renamed Bishop Hogan Academy and closed in 2004.
She moved to St. Charles Borromeo School to be principal at the start of the 1997-98 school year and began as principal at Good Shepherd in the 2005-06 school year.
Barrese-Frame said during both her first and second times at Good Shepherd she found the school to be especially welcoming. She said she sometimes joked that the friendly atmosphere was due to something in the walls or in the water. Most likely, though, it’s the staff, she said.
"We have a wonderful staff," Barrese-Frame said. "They are so dedicated and are always willing to learn the latest trends and get along with each other."
She also credits Good Shepherd parents. Several people from outside the building, including a golf instructor and a speech teacher, made it a point to mention the respect they have received from Good Shepherd’s students. She said the students must have learned that respect from their parents.
"The parents send them here so well-prepared, it makes our job so easy," she said. "They are very respectful kids."
One alumnus said Barrese-Frame will always have his respect. After the May 31 anniversary Mass, Robert Caulkins of Henrietta, Class of 1991, said he thinks of Barrese-Frame’s science classes when remembering his favorite times at Good Shepherd.
"She always had a great spirit about how she taught the class," he said.
Barrese-Frame said she will miss being an educator.
"I totally, absolutely, positively love it," she said. "I do, and I am so disappointed that I can’t do this anymore."
Barrese-Frame said her first priority in her retirement will be to spend time with family and friends, and she also plans to consider the possibility of opening a small business. She’ll take with her the lessons she has learned from her coworkers.
"I really appreciate all the love and care and support I’ve received from everybody I’ve worked with over the years," Barrese-Frame said.
She said the support of her family also has helped her get through difficulties over the years, including the deaths of two husbands. She said she refers to these and other difficulties as bumps in the road.
"Because of my strong faith and love and trust in God, and the love and caring support of my family, I was able to weather the storm," Barrese-Frame said.