MASSENA - A 20-year member of the Trinity Catholic School teaching staff and assistant principal for the past seven years is the schools new principal.
Kathy Behrens replaces Joan M. Rufa, who had served as principal for the past seven years and retired at the end of the 2011-12 school year but is still at the school on a part-time basis working on advancement and development of the school.
Mrs. Behrens, whose selection was announced by the Educational Council and Trinity Catholic School administration, began her new duties on July 1.
Ive been at Trinity for 20 years. Theres no place like it, she said.
Mrs. Behrens said her family moved to Chase Mills in 1979 and own a dairy farm. She went to college in Indiana, and she and her husband, Dan, relocated to the Massena area in 1990. They are members of the Sacred Heart and St. Lawrence parishes.
I got a job at St. Marys in Canton first. The following year there was an opening here in kindergarten. I applied, and I got the job in kindergarten, she said.
She later moved to a second grade teaching position for three years, and I thoroughly enjoyed that, she said. But the opportunity to move back to kindergarten came up. Thats truly where my heart was, and I moved back to kindergarten.
When Mrs. Rufa announced her retirement, Mrs. Behrens said she decided to apply for the principals position.
There are two reasons I decided to say yes, the first being that I truly believe working in a Catholic school is a calling. I answered that call to be an educator. Now Im answering that call to lead a great team, she said.
The second reason, she said, was that the opportunity to be principal at Trinity was a chance to lead a wonderful, fantastic team of professionals at the school.
Its a partnership, Mrs. Behrens said. Unfortunately there are hard decisions to make. Someone has to be the leader of that team.
She said she believes God called her to be the new school leader.
I accepted His path. Im accepting that path that I believe God is laying for me, she said.
Mrs. Behrens attended a four-day Principals Academy at Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana, in June.
I said, I used to live in South Bend, I like it there, my son went there and Im going to go there. Notre Dame is near and dear to our familys heart. I said it was a wonderful opportunity to learn from other principals and to be on holy ground such as Notre Dame. That helped me prepare for being in the office, she said.
As assistant principal for the past seven years at Trinity, Joan has prepared me very well, Mrs. Behrens said. My eyes were wide open when I walked into this position because Joan gave me phenomenal experiences when she was principal.
Now that shes sitting in the principals chair, Mrs. Behrens said she still has Mrs. Rufa and others like secretary Shirley Chartrand to look to for guidance.
Im just kind of really diving into the work. Joan is right here, and the school wouldnt run without Shirley, she said. This has been a wonderful, wonderful transition. I sit in the office and if I come across something I say, OK, Im gong to try to figure this out. If I cant, I can talk to Shirley or talk to Joan. It has really been a gift.
Mrs. Behrens said her husband has also been another phenomenal support, providing guidance to questions she might pose to him.
He is in the business world. I always say I cant work in the secular world. My comfort zone is in Catholic education. Sometimes Ill go home and ask, How do I handle this? and he says this would be his suggestion, she said.
Mrs. Behrens will begin her first officials school year on Sept. 6 when Trinitys doors open to students in grades kindergarten through six. Pre-kindergarten students will start their school year on Sept. 10. Prior to that, the school will hold a visitation day from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. Aug. 30.