South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

New principal on the job at Bishop Leonard St. Mary of the Mount Academy


Joe Garrity, new principal at Bishop Leonard St. Mary of the Mount Academy, checks a t-shirt for size before giving it to Ryan Barnard, 8, a third grader at the school.

The new principal at Bishop Leonard St. Mary of the Mount Academy experienced déjà vu when he first entered its gym.

Joe Garrity had played team sports against St. Mary's at the gym when he was a boy growing up on North Side. "It is a pretty large gym," he said.

Since then he has been basketball coach at schools where he taught and principal at other schools and his overall goal at his new school is "to help as many kids as I can."

He has held his new position as principal at the K-8 elementary for a month and on Aug. 16 the school held a "meet and greet" event, also described as a back-to-school picnic, to introduce the new administrator to members of the community.

The fun included food, games, face painting and prizes. Youngsters attending were asked to write comments on cards to be sent to the military stationed overseas. Some had already created "snack to go" bags to be given to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Pennies for Peanut Butter was another successful food bank project with the students contributing more than $1,000 they collected. Mary Lou Folino, who runs the pre-school child care facility, said she explained to the youngsters they might eat when they get home from school that day but there are disadvantaged children who "do not eat." She added, "I tell them that this is a way that they can give back to the community."

Tom Dzamdo, operations manager for the food bank, was on hand to meet some of the young donors.

This has been a busy time lately for Bishop Leonard St. Mary of the Mount Academy. The school was recently given re-accreditation by a team from the Middle States Association Commission on Elementary Schools. Preparation for such an inspection requires a great deal of work from the staff.

And soon the school is getting ready to celebrate a special event next year, its 100th anniversary.

Mr. Garrity, 51, received a recommendation from a search committee prior to his hiring.

Previously he taught at Art Rooney Middle School on North Side, Reizenstein Middle School in East Liberty and Horace Mann Elementary School on North Side. He was principal at Bon Meade School in the Moon Area School District and Chartiers Houston School in Houston,


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