Story by Dubravka Kolumbic-Cortese | Correspondent
There is a new face at the helm of St. Mary of the Lakes School, Medford.
Amy Rash, former assistant principal in Delran Middle School, has been appointed the new principal of the pre-K through 8 school, following former principal Nina Hoover’s retirement after eight years of leadership.
“I’m excited to have this opportunity to work with students,” Rash, 36, said. “Working with children in any capacity is just an amazing opportunity to affect a life in a positive way.”
Rash, who lives in Cherry Hill, spent her entire teaching career with the Delran Township School District, first as a social studies teacher at the middle school from 2004 to 2009, then as an assistant principal at both the intermediate and middle schools. She was already familiar with St. Mary of the Lakes through its interactions with the Delran School District via intermural sports and activities.
“I feel very comfortable in both environments, but I do have a background in attending Catholic school,” Rash said. “A Catholic school allows me to incorporate my faith into my profession.”
Rash spent 12 years in Catholic schools while growing up in Wilmington, Del. She then attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, where she earned a bachelor of arts in economics, with a psychology minor. She also received a master of arts in teaching secondary education from The College of New Jersey, Ewing, in 2004 and a master of education from William Patterson University, Wayne, in 2009.
Rash said she is looking forward to helping the school with its ongoing marketing efforts, among other endeavors, and working with the nearly 50 staff members.
“The academic program here at St. Mary of the Lakes is very rigorous and very challenging,” Rash said, “and we offer all of the same or very similar extracurricular programs that public schools do. But one thing that we are able to do is incorporate a faith component to students’ education.”
The school has a projected enrollment of just more than 250 students for the 2017-18 school year, with two classes each for grades third through eight, and one class each for preschool through second grade. The average class size is 18. The school is unique in that it offers full-day and half-day preschool and kindergarten.
“It’s not only a strong academic program,” Rash said, “but all of the other extracurricular and athletic opportunities that the students have here. That’s what helps our students be well-rounded and find what they’re good at and what they enjoy, and explore new opportunities.”
Rash and her husband, Mike, moved to Cherry Hill in 2009, where for the past three years, they have been parishioners of Christ our Light Parish. There, they participate in parish activities such as volunteering with the Cherry Hill Food Pantry. They have been married nine years and have two children, AJ, 5, and McKenna, 3.
Rash said her Catholic faith has been a source of strength in her career as an educator. “My faith has acted as a guidance, a vehicle for gratitude and reflection and peace. I think that when I’m faced with challenging situations in my profession, my faith helps me reflect, helps me see the big picture and make the best possible decision.”
She said she is grateful for the reception she has received from the parish community as a whole.
“I’m very fortunate because the parish is extremely supportive of the school,” Rash said. “I’ve gotten a very gracious and warm welcome.”