Principal, administrator picked for Catholic schools|[5/25/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Jennifer Henry, principal at Annunciation Catholic School in Columbus for the past seven years, has been named chief administrator of Vicksburg Catholic School and principal of St. Francis Xavier Elementary.

A letter mailed to parents says Henry, 48, will replace Dr. Ann Wheeless as principal at St. Francis and Peter Pikul as chief administrator. Both Wheeless and Pikul, also principal of St. Aloysius High School, announced their retirements earlier this year.

Previously, the school chief of Vicksburg Catholic School was the principal of the high school, while the principal of the elementary school was the assistant principal.

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“We’re experimenting with a different model that is in use in the Catholic schools in Birmingham, Ala,, that has been successful there,” said Rosa Brown, who headed the search committee for the board of Vicksburg Catholic School.

As chief administrator for the system, Henry will be in charge of naming a principal of St. Al. No process for interviewing candidates has been decided, Brown said.

Henry, a New Orleans native, moved to Picayune at age 13. After receiving her master’s degree in reading at Loyola University in New Orleans, she earned a second master’s in Catholic administration and supervision from Seton Hall University in New Jersey.

Her 11 years of teaching in Catholic schools before becoming principal at Annunciation Catholic School includes stints at St. Leo the Great, Academy of the Sacred Heart, Our Lady of Perpetual Help and Holy Name of Jesus, all in New Orleans, and at East Mississippi Community College in Columbus, teaching adult reading.

“She is impressive on paper and in person, and the board was quite impressed with her,” Brown said.

“I’m a little surprised, but the door has been opened. I’m looking forward to answering the call to leadership,” Henry said.

She has four children, three daughters and a son, ages 12 to 17.

Annunciation Catholic School is accredited by the Mississippi Board of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The K-6 school was established in 1963 as part of Annunciation Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic church in northeast Mississippi. The school’s 2004-05 enrollment was 165.

Vicksburg Catholic School, consists of pre-K-6 at St. Francis Xavier Elementary and 7-12 at St. Aloysius High School. Now coed, the schools are the successors of an all-male school established by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart here in 1878 and an elementary and all-female high school that dates to an 1860 founding by the Religious Sisters of Mercy. Vicksburg Catholic School’s 2004-05 enrollment was 627.