Catherine B. Merryman, the school’s current Principal, has been appointed President. The current Assistant Principal for Faculty Meghan Vilardo has been appointed Principal of Our Lady of Lourdes High School.
After extensive collaboration, research, and discussion, this model will best position our Independent Catholic high school for long-term success and growth. This model is a form of governance that takes the numerous responsibilities for managing a private, independent Catholic high school such as Our Lady of Lourdes and spreads them over two leadership positions. The popularity of this model demands a definitive change that carefully constructs the full-time administrative attention to the various concerns of long-term institutional advancement and the daily demands of leading an academically excellent Catholic school.
The President-Principal model is frequently used in Catholic secondary school education. According to research from the National Catholic Education Association, this model is utilized in 60% to 75% of secondary Catholic high schools in the country. It is also being successfully used by other Catholic high schools in New York State. In brief, the President focuses on Catholic identity, community relations, finances, admissions, marketing, strategic planning, and institutional advancement. The Principal works under the President and focuses on Catholic faith formation, academic growth, teaching, learning, and best practices.
Both appointees are life-long educators. Catherine Merryman’s teaching career spans a total of 29 years, 25 of which have been with the Archdiocese of New York. She was appointed Principal of the school in 2014 after serving as a teacher and administrator for over 10 years at OLL. She earned her undergraduate degree from SUNY New Paltz and received a Master of Science in Education from SUNY University at Albany. Throughout her tenure, Mrs. Merryman has succeeded in strengthening the overall foundation of the school by spearheading exceptional growth of the school’s curriculum and implementation of pedagogy, directing a complete technological overhaul of equipment and systems, facilitating a 15% increase in enrollment within her first 3 years, and most recently guiding the school to a successful and unprecedented reopening in September 2020 during COVID-19. This past school year also brought to fruition her long-term goal of completing the renovation of 7,000 square feet of space within the school building to create a new state-of-the-art Health and Wellness Center for the students that opened in February 2021. A resident of Marlboro for over 35 years, Merryman was honored by the Catholic Schools Region of Dutchess in 2017 and was appointed to the Dutchess Regional Catholic School Board in 2019.
Meghan Vilardo has taught at Our Lady of Lourdes for 16 years and assumed administrative responsibilities at the school in 2014. She earned her undergraduate degree from Western Connecticut State University and her Master’s in Adolescent Education from Mercy College. Under her leadership, she successfully implemented policies and procedures as they related to instructional leadership, staff & student personnel, curriculum development, resource management, and all issues related to the successful operation of the school. In addition, she was the driving force behind the school’s Middle States Accreditation in 2018 and played a key role in the school’s reopening plan during COVID-19 with the establishment of the Academic Continuity Operations Committee. A resident of the Poughkeepsie area for 20 years. Mrs. Vilardo was named a 40 Under 40 Honoree in 2017.
Excited for this next chapter, Catherine Merryman comments, “Our Lady of Lourdes High School is well-established as a premier high school option in the Hudson Valley educating servant leaders of tomorrow in a Christ-centered Catholic tradition. As we embark on our next twenty years, we have several challenges and opportunities on the horizon. All of the various opportunities for excellence that are on the horizon can be grasped only with bold moves forward. We believe this next chapter for Our Lady of Lourdes High School will benefit from a President-Principal model of leadership led by proven leaders who have devoted their life’s work to Catholic education.”