Story by Rose O’Connor | Correspondent
When the students of Holy Cross School, Rumson, return to the classroom in September, they will be greeted by their new principal, Dr. Mark DeMareo.
DeMareo brings 35 years of educational leadership experience in the Garden State.
After receiving his bachelor of arts degree in music from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, he began his career in education as a choral director and music teacher in Thompson Junior High School, Middletown, followed by time as assistant principal in Middletown North and South High Schools.
He later received a master of arts degree from Farleigh Dickinson University, Rutherford, and a doctorate in education administration from Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He then served as principal of Raritan High School and later Ramapo High School. As a result of his tenure in these administrative positions, DeMareo was then selected as assistant superintendent of schools in Jackson, and later, superintendent of schools in Plumstead. His most recent position was director of educational services for the Education Information and Resource Center at Camden Community College.
“As an administrator, I love learning, the transforming power of education and working with students. This is the desire that I want to transmit as an educator,” DeMareo said. “Such enthusiasm is contagious and can be effective and even life-changing. Without some emotional connection to learning, true knowledge is hardly possible. By guiding students to find what is meaningful to them, the teacher helps the student discover a voice, purpose, and identity.
“Nothing is as empowering and liberating as finding oneself and identifying one’s sense of purpose,” he continued. “I believe that all students can learn to become successful if student learning goals are specific and measurable, with meaningful timelines.”
DeMareo’s family includes two aunts who are religious sisters. His great uncle, who is now deceased, was a Jesuit priest. He has traveled the world extensively, most recently to Jaipur, India, to establish an academic scholarship in memory of his uncle who founded a Catholic school there.
While DeMareo’s formal teaching and administrative experiences have been in public school districts, he credits his mother, who taught religious education for nearly 26 years, and his father, a very devout practicing Catholic, for influencing his vocation as an educator.
A resident of Gloucester County, DeMareo has deep roots in the Catholic faith and is a parishioner of St. Margaret Parish, Woodbury Heights. He is a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus and was recently inducted into the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. At St. Margaret Parish, he is also an organist and has served as a religious education instructor.
On his new position, DeMareo said, “I am honored to have been selected to join Holy Cross School, which is known far and wide for its dedication to excellence, but more importantly, to children.
“During the past 35 years, I have worked as a teacher and administrator, but I consider my most important job to be that of a child advocate. I look forward to working with parents and faculty to provide a world-class educational experience for each child. With small student-to-teacher ratios, high academic standards, specialized arts, sports, extracurricular programs and an emphasis on community values, Holy Cross School can develop students who are well-rounded and disciplined, with a better opportunity to succeed.”
Father Michael Manning, pastor of Holy Cross Parish, served on the principal search committee and said he was “impressed with Dr. DeMareo’s experience, faith-filled life and great sense of humor.”
Father Manning expressed to the parish community his hopes for this new chapter at Holy Cross School, saying, “We are confident Dr. DeMareo will continue to strengthen the academic and spiritual formation program at Holy Cross School. His extensive experience, both in the classroom and in administration, and his love of the Catholic faith will be a blessing for Holy Cross School and Parish.”