St. Michael School’s new principal sees job as answered prayer

by Michele Collins

Jennifer Conti, the new principal of St. Michael Catholic School in Independence said her new job is the result of prayer and God’s grace.

“When the opportunity came about, I really prayed about it. I asked for input from my family, and then I just took a leap of faith,” she said.

Conti, who started with St. Michael in July, is in her first principal role. She credits a Diocese of Cleveland leadership program with enabling her to take this next step in her career.

Prior to joining the St. Michael staff, Conti served as the technology integration coordinator at Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Cuyahoga Falls, and prior to that she spent 19 years as a middle school teacher at Holy Family School in Stow.

At the recommendation of IHM Principal Kathy Friess, Conti took part in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland’s aspiring leaders program, which aims to find and train educators within the Catholic education community to take on leadership roles. Participants train with existing school leaders and Conti maintains her relationship with Friess as her mentor.

“My partnership with Rev. Matt Jordan, the administrator at St. Michael, has also made my transition so much easier,” said Conti.

In addition to taking on her new role within the school, Conti has made it her mission to meet the families and parishioners at St. Michael School.

“I just can’t tell you how wonderful the community is, they have been so welcoming, and so kind and generous. I am in awe of the spirit of this community,” she said.

When asked what the best part of her day was as the principal of the K-8 school, Conti was quick to answer.
“I love lunch and recess,” she said. “It is during this time that the students put their guard down a little and I really get to know them as people.”

She added that she also enjoys being in the classroom.

“I have had the opportunity to see our amazing staff in action, to see them engaging the students, and seeing the students get so excited about what they are learning,” she said. “I really enjoy these daily interactions.”

Conti has been spending lunch and recess with her students since she started as principal. She has also gotten to know the students’ parents through events like the school’s annual fundraiser.

“Last May, I had the opportunity to attend the school’s gala, and meet many parents. Then I spent a couple days at the end of the year meeting the students and teachers,” she said.

Before she officially started as principal, she finished out her role in the technology department at IHM.

“That job ended in June, and I have been here just about every day since,” said Conti. “This job is really my next step in my career in Catholic education.” ∞

Photo: Jennifer Conti. Photo submitted.