Dr. Diane Greco joins St. Elizabeth’s School as new principal

New school leader brings experience, will emphasize ‘family atmosphere’ at Uwchlan school

By Kathleen Nair, Correspondent, The Times


Dr. Diane Greco

UWCHLAN — When the doors opened for the first day of school at St. Elizabeth Parish School this year, things seemed much the same as the previous year.  The uniforms hadn’t changed, energetic children were dropped off at the school by encouraging parents and friendly bus drivers, as before.  Enthusiastic teachers were outside welcoming the eager students back for another exciting school year.

However, there was one obvious new addition to the school community this year.  Dr. Diane Greco had taken over the reins as the new principal of St. Elizabeth School, and she was eagerly awaiting the arrival of her 2013/2014 students.  She officially started her post as the school’s new principal on July 1, but for many parents and students, the first day of school was their introduction to the school’s new leader.

This lead-time gave her the opportunity to get a feel for the school and the staff prior to the start of this school year.

It also gave her time to get to know her staff — a staff that has helped to make the transition smooth and easy, she said.

“I’m thrilled to have inherited such a wonderful staff,” Greco stated.  “The best teachers are able to see things from a child’s perspective.”

She said thinks of herself as an academic and she absolutely respects that, however, “being approachable and remembering what it feels like to be a child,” is most important to her.  She said she is glad to see that the teachers at St. E’s are of the same mind.  She said that she will strive to further the excellent work and programs that were put into place prior to her arrival at the school, by former principal Bernadette Dougherty and the staff.

That having been said, she said she will look to assess and modify them when necessary throughout the school year.  She said she believes in supporting the arts in elementary school and will stay true to this tenant as well.  Academically, she said she will look to stay aligned with where the Common Core Standards — formally adopted by the state Board of Education this week for public schools —  are moving and the Archdiocesan Guidelines as well.  She said Middle States recommendations, as the school was recently Middle States Accredited, will also be a priority.

Being an elementary principal can require something of a diverse skill set. Greco’s background and upbringing exposed her to a wide range of educational and community settings.

Greco was born and raised in Rochester, NY, the home of Kodak and Xerox.  The oldest of six children, she was raised in a family where education, family values, and faith were emphasized. Being raised in a big family gets one used to a certain amount of chaos — another good skill in an elementary school principal.

“I guess I grew up loving the commotion and life that children bring to a house,” she said, noting that she’s from a close-knit family where grandparents, aunts and uncles were always around.  Her father, “an intelligent and sensitive man,” was a commercial artist and the self-proclaimed “philosopher” of the family.

Described as a father ahead of his time, “he was with us as children before it was popular for fathers to play an active role in raising children.”  It was his example that impressed her the most. Greco said she remembers him fondly and singles him out as the greatest influence in her life.

“He always thought the best of people, was open to new ideas and he was very non judgmental,”  she said. “You knew the importance of his faith without him having to say it.”

Greco attended the University of Rochester, NY earning a degree in English with a minor in Secondary Education.  She went on to get her masters degree in Elementary Education from Nazareth College, Rochester NY.  She started her early career teaching English in a secondary school, but soon realized that she wanted to teach on the elementary school level.

“I enjoyed teaching on the secondary level, but I really liked the idea of having my own classroom in elementary education, because it was like having my own family,” she said.

Her first job was as a first grade teacher at St. John of Rochester, Fairport, NY.  She and her husband moved to Virginia while her children were young, and she taught part time in some gifted programs while living there.  After moving to Pennsylvania (Montgomery County) in 1988, she held teaching positions at St. Stanislaus, in Lansdale, and St. Agnes Sacred Heart in Sellersville, both elementary schools.

After teaching in elementary schools for several years, Greco made the decision to enter the Principal Training Program available through the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Education, after colleagues had suggested she would be a good fit.  She completed the program and earned her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from Immaculata University.

She took her first job as a principal at Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Jenkintown.  She was principal there for 16 years, and went on to become principal of a new regional school, St. Joseph the Protector in Glenside, in 2012.  But as Greco moved to Chester Springs in 2007, and when she heard that St. Elizabeth School was looking for a new principal in 2013, she couldn’t resist the opportunity to be principal at her own parish school.

Greco said she thinks of the school environment as a family atmosphere.  She feels that it should be a safe place for the children to come and be themselves.

“A place of peace and acceptance,” she said.

She strives for this atmosphere in her school and among her students and faculty, too, she said.

“Often times, parochial schools are perceived as places where discipline is top down with so many rules, but we’re really not,” she said.  Instead, she said that she feels that school should be a place where the children primarily learn self-discipline, and sometimes people forget that.

St. Elizabeth Parish School is located at the corner of Rt. 100 (Pottstown Pike) and Fellowship Road.  The school is celebrating its seventh year since its inception in September 2006.  The school is home to about 420 students in the school as of the 2013/2014 calendar year.  As such, it is a smaller, very nurturing school environment in which the children can learn.

Greco welcomes the public to attend their first open house of the year on Sunday, November 17, 2013 from 12:30-2:00 pm.  You can also contact the school office to get more information or to schedule a visit at (610) 646-6540.

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