The Mater Dei Prep Board of Trustees and President Don Galante are pleased to announce the appointment of Debra J. Serafin as principal of the school effective Aug. 1, 2018. The school’s Academic Affairs Committee, led by Dr. Simon Bosco, presented Ms. Serafin to the Board after a thorough search which focused on candidates with strong educational and curricular experience.
“It is with great enthusiasm we welcome Debra Serafin as the new Principal of Mater Dei Prep. This September will be our fourth year as an independent college preparatory academy and Debra’s impressive education experience is a significant addition to our leadership team,” said Mr. Galante. “Debra’s strengths in curriculum and faculty development will ensure the school’s academic program is executed in accordance with the Board’s strategic goals.”
Ms. Serafin brings a diverse and accomplished career to her role as principal. She received a Bachelor of Science in education from Rutgers University and an MBA from Monmouth University. She retired in 2012 as assistant principal of North Brunswick High School and since then has been working part time as an educational trainer and facilitator for New Jersey Principal and Supervisor’s Association. She also conducts workshops in school districts to bring about an awareness of the changes that have occurred to the pension system and how teachers have been affected.
A brief stint as an interim assistant principal at Demarest High School in the Northern Valley Regional High School District last fall made her realize how much she missed a school environment and prompted her to seek a permanent position.
“I was reinvigorated and happy to be back in a school district,” said Ms. Serafin about her time at Demarest. “I was drawn to the Mater Dei Prep principal position after learning more about the school community,” specifically the four pillars of faith, knowledge, service and community that guide the students, she said.
“I just love the fact that it’s a small community, it’s a faith-based community, the kids do community service. It’s all the things that you want in a school to help students grow and develop into contributing community members,” Ms. Serafin, who is an active member of St. Dominic parish in Brick, said. And she was impressed with the “warm, welcoming environment.”
“Mater Dei Prep’s strategy is college prep in a unique environment of inclusiveness across social, economic and extracurricular strata,” said Mr. Randy MacDonald, Board chair and founding trustee. “Our size allows us to be flexible with our curriculum and nurturing in our approach which appeals to students across all learning abilities. The school continues to have outstanding success with both student achievement and consistent enrollment growth since becoming independent. Debra is superbly qualified to help us deliver on our mission.”
Mater Dei Prep recently introduced four programs to enhance the curriculum – the Global Leaders Institute, Information Technology Institute, Performing Arts Institute and the Emergency Medical Services and Nursing Institute – designed to teach students the skills needed to excel in today’s diverse, technology-based fields.
All incoming freshmen will take one course in every program before choosing whether to continue the course of study for a particular institute based on their educational and career goals.
This fits nicely with Ms. Serafin’s educational and life philosophy. She believes in encouraging students to keep the doors open, seizing all opportunities which may help them pursue future goals.
“I went back for an MBA because I wanted to have opportunities when I retired,” she said. “I have never, ever regretted it.” Ms. Serafin completed 24 credits toward her doctorate in education before retiring and also holds permanent principal, supervisor and teacher certifications.
“I’m really enthusiastic. I just have so much to offer,” she said, adding that she is ready to develop the action plan needed to move Mater Dei Prep forward.
She also points out the appropriateness of her becoming Mater Dei Prep principal, considering the plural of the school’s mascot, the Seraph, is “seraphim.”
“And my last name is ‘Serafin.’ How apropos! This is meant to be.”