LEWISTOWN - Last August, Michael Fitzgerald spent the first day of school welcoming a new group of students into his first grade classroom at Sacred Heart School. This year, the first day back marks a new beginning as he returns as the new principal of the school.
"That wasn't exactly my plan, but it was the plan for me," he said.
Fitzgerald is a member of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Mifflintown and lives on a farmette in Juniata County with his wife, Tracie, and children, Katie and Sean. He graduated from Juniata High School and earned his bachelor's degree at Shippensburg University. For the last six years, Fitzgerald taught first grade at Sacred Heart School.
Michael Fitzgerald was named principal of Sacred Heart School in Lewistown.
Before former principal Sister Marlene announced her resignation, Fitzgerald said he had actually been thinking about trying a different grade. But an outpouring of encouragement from coworkers, staff, administration and students' parents pushed him to apply for the open position.
When the interview process ended and Fitzgerald was offered the job, he said he knew it was in God's plan.
"This is the path that I'm supposed to take," he said.
Fitzgerald will now oversee the daily operation of SHS, which has a current enrollment of about 80 to 89 students. That number has been gradually increasing over the last few years, due in part to the tight-knit community at the school, he said.
"Sacred Heart is a very special place. We're a family," he explained. "You know all the people, you do things as a school."
The transition from teacher to principal has brought new responsibilities with it, so for now, Fitzgerald said he is focused on learning the daily operational procedures of the school. But he has high goals set for the future of SHS.
"I would like to increase enrollment, possibly expand grades through sixth and seventh," he said, adding that he also plans to provide continued professional development opportunities for his faculty and staff.
"I look forward to working with the families, faculty and staff here at Sacred Heart as we continue to build the school," he said.
Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School is always accepting students. Those interested may request more information by calling the school office at 248-5351 or visiting www.sacredheartschool.com.