Six Month Check-In With Dr. McClory

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Padua Academy

Dr. McClory poses in front of the prayer wall in the lobby. McClory said that her favorite part of her job is working with the staff. “It's really a pleasure to work with other people in our building- other adults that care about passionately about our school and our students,” she said.

It’s been six months since Dr. Mary McClory stepped up to fill the big pink shoes Mrs. Mann left behind. She took time out of her busy schedule to look back at where those six months have brought her.

Experience

Before McClory was principal, she held many jobs around the school. She started as a substitute teacher, then became a permanent science teacher for courses such as Physics, Physical Science, and Chemistry. She expected that this would be the role she would stay in at Padua, but little did she know that she would later become the principal.

A few years later, she became the science department chair. McClory said this role helped prepare her for being the principal because it made her, “…very much aware of what the entire school program is and the entire curriculum. I learned how to do it in my department, then I learned how to do it in the school. And now having that background makes it so that I can continue to work with our faculty and staff, and maybe even see a bigger picture.”

Over the 11 years she spent teaching at Padua, McClory never expected to end up where she is now until she became involved in a Catholic school leadership program. “That was really when I first started to recognize that maybe I have some other opportunities beyond my department,” said McClory.

Eventually, McClory had the opportunity to become vice principal under Mrs. Cindy Mann. She worked this job for many years until Mann retired on January 16, 2019. Four months later, on February 30, Dr. McClory was named as principal starting the following year.

Personal life

Outside of Padua, McClory said she has an average life. She is married and has four sons who are all adults. She likes to read, cook, and spend time with her family. She loves to stay home and read a good book. McClory lives in Newark and often goes up to Massachusetts, where she grew up, to see her family.

Following Mrs. Mann

Following Mrs. Mann can’t be easy. Mann was the face of Padua for many years and it’s difficult to fill those shoes. However, McClory doesn’t like to measure herself against Mann.

“I’m not a big person about comparing and contrasting myself to somebody else. I think that Mrs. Mann and I complemented each other at the time that we worked together because we were different personalities. She was more of an extroverted person and I tend to be a little bit more introspective. So I think I’ve continued to bring that in this job,” McClory said.

Before becoming principal, McClory had some experience in the role. Two years ago, Mann experienced heart complications. So, McClory carried out her duties for several months.
“It’s almost like I had an opportunity to have a viewpoint of what the job was going to involve,” she said “and also, I think our faculty staff knew that I had a chance to do the job, too.”

McClory felt that this experience made her feel more prepared for her current position and made faculty more comfortable with her as principal.

Although McClory doesn’t work with Mann anymore, they remain friends. “I saw her at a couple of different social occasions and she keeps in touch. And I know that she is taking a little bit of time to adjust to retirement, but I think she’s starting to enjoy it,” Mann said.

Day-to-day Responsibilities

The role of principal is one that is mostly carried out behind the scenes. Although most students don’t know exactly what McClory does everyday, her influence can be seen throughout the school.

“I’m responsible for the entire school. And so that means that I’m either talking to people about plans that have with athletics or I’m talking about academics with Mrs. Fundakowski,” said McClory.

Although her job consists of many elements, McClory doesn’t have to do it all alone. “…If you look at an organizational chart of the school, you would see that I have a number of people that I interact with in terms of planning for the day to day. I don’t do all that personally, but I help to plan it and facilitate it,” she said.

McClory stresses that her job is possible because she works collaboratively with faculty and staff.

What She Has Accomplished

Over the short six months that McClory has been principal, she has many accomplishments. One achievement is increasing communications for the school.

“I’m really pleased with some of the opportunities that we’ve been able to get more word out on social media… I did not have any real experience with communications and I’ve enjoyed working with people that are immersed in that,” she said.

McClory has also hired more staff to expand other areas of the school and immersed herself in learning about advancement and grants.

Overall, McClory does not want to make drastic changes if she doesn’t need to. “We don’t have any major initiatives that we’re rolling out for this year. What we are doing is a lot of tweaking- we make improvements.’” she said.

McClory’s main goal for the school is to keep Padua just as great as it is. “We’re celebrating our 65th anniversary this year and I want Padua to be very strong and vibrant as it moves forward into the future… Whatever I can do to contribute to having that be available for the next generation of Padma students is something that I want to do,” said McClory.

McClory appreciates all of Padua’s traditions and the improvements made to the school over the years. She is also happily anticipating all that the year has to offer. “I am excited about all of the activities and programs that are happening this year at Padua- the musical, welcoming our Class of 2024, opportunities for international travel, classes, tech upgrades,” said McClory.

Although she doesn’t have any major changes planned, McClory isn’t opposed to making any adjustments. “…We always have to keep looking. And we have to always be aware of what our students want right now- where I see Padua’s gonna be next year or the year after,” said McClory.

Another change McClory is looking into is adding new courses. She worked with several teachers to create a survey for the students to suggest classes they would like to see in the future.

Last year, McClory implemented alternative faculty meetings. These meetings take place in small groups during the teachers’ prep periods and focus on a specific question or issue. These meetings have led to changes such as formalized activity periods and even the elective survey previously described.

Over the next few years, McClory said that she is working to increase the number of exchange classes with Sallies. “So what we’ve been trying to have some match with their schedule and our schedule, and it’s just been more challenging. But, in fact, Father Beretta had contacted me and said he’s love to sit down and talk to me…. And what we’re planning to do is talk and see if we can look with new eyes at how we can make some changes positively for the exchange program [for two years from now],” said McClory.

At the 65th Anniversary Mass, McClory was glad to meet with alumni. “It has been so nice to learn about how much they value the education that they received at Padua and this inspires me to want to ensure this also for our current and future students,” said McClory.

Above all, McClory is excited to spend her next six months and beyond at Padua. “Every day in this job and in the jobs that I’ve had before, there’s always new opportunities and new challenges,” McClory said, “It’s really about what’s best for the school and moving the school forward.”