FLORHAM PARK, NJ- With her first month as principal of Holy Family School in Florham Park complete, Dawn Paskilades is wrapping up a laundry list of summer projects in anticipation of the first day of school on Sept. 6.
“There’s so much to do and so little time,” said Paskilades, who spent many years working as a teacher and an administrator in both private and public school settings before becoming principal at the Catholic school. “But I’m not stressed about it because there’s so much support happening around me.”
Gesturing to the freshly-painted blue walls in her own small office, Paskilades explained that the entire school was repainted, the floors redone, air conditioning installed, new furniture added, all thanks to a $20,000 donation from the family of a student. Additionally, due to the generosity of another student’s family, the school’s plumbing was able to be fixed.
“They actually don’t want the spotlight put on them, which really shows, that’s what a good Christian does,” Pasilades said. “You do things without knowing you’re going to get public accolades for it, so it actually just makes it even more touching.”
Paskilades went on to explain that those values are exactly what Holy Family has aimed to instill in its students since it was established over 60 years ago at the exact geographical center of Florham Park. “We have the Catholic faith every day brought into their school to raise children to be givers of the community, to pay it forward,” she said, explaining that she hopes to continue Holy Family’s legacy as the very heart of the community. “We have a very loving, nurturing school that teaches children values and morals that you wouldn’t get in a public school setting.
According to Paskilades, Holy Family also boasts a smaller teacher-to-student ratio than public schools, as well as an academic program, teachers and technology which are all at the same level as a public school. Among the many goals which she has mapped out for the future, Paskilades plans to provide each student attending Holy Family with a chrome book.
Paskilades’ inaugural month as principal has consisted largely of building relationships—meeting with parents, sending out letters and maintaining an “open-door policy” at the school. “These teachers are my family already,” she explained. “These students are our family and the parents, and I’m excited to be part of that family.”
As the next few months roll on, a new awning will be installed out front and Holy Family School’s new logo will grace each piece of stationary. When the students come back to school in September, they will not only be welcomed with newly-rearranged classrooms and a new lunch program, but also a tremendous amount of new staff. The after-school enrichment programs are being reinstated under Paskilades’ leadership, and she hopes to add a character-education committee and community service days to the school’s activities.
“To me, it’s an honor and a privilege to be here, and I have a lot of pride in what I do. I have a lot of pride in the school,” Paskilades said. “I’m committed that every student in this school be happier leaving than when they walked in. I’m committed that the teachers have a smile on their face when they walk in the door. I want this to be a place that is nurturing, loving, respectful and at the same time provides the academic excellence of the reputation we’ve had for many years. I’m committed to do anything to have that play out every single day.”
For more information on Holy Family School, visit holy-family-school.org.