WILMINGTON – St. Ann Parish is home for Pat Butler Grant and her family. She and her husband, Jim, have been members for decades, and their two children, Colleen and Sheila, attended the parish school. Grant joined the school staff last year as a science teacher, and this summer moved into the principal’s office.
“It just seemed, I don’t know, providential,” Grant said in mid-August. “It wasn’t what I came here to do. I came here to be a science teacher. That’s what I did at Ursuline Academy. But there was a void, and I was asked to fill it.”
Grant is celebrating 10 years in Catholic education, but she brings with her a varied career in science, business and academics. She graduated from St. Anthony of Padua School and St. Mark’s High School before earning a degree in chemistry at the University of Delaware. She put that to work for 12 years at ICI Americas, which eventually became part of AstraZeneca in Wilmington.
She left to raise her daughters, and when they entered St. Ann School, she became involved as a volunteer. Service to the diocese was not new to her family as Jim is former editor of The Dialog. Grant was active in home and school, and she helped in the library and with fundraising. A funny thing happened.
“What I was finding was that I really loved it. When I started getting really involved was Science Olympiad,” she said. “This seemed to be my vocation. It took me a while. I’m a late bloomer.”
She attended Wilmington University for a master’s degree and began teaching at Ursuline, which her daughters attended. After leaving that school, she worked in education consulting and for the Delaware Department of Education.
“I’ve been in a lot of classrooms with teachers. What I have found is that I do like working with students, but I really like working with teachers. These are people who are really, truly dedicated professionals. They’re just so giving and so talented. It’s just fun. It is going to be a shift to be sitting behind the desk, but I hope I can get out from behind the desk,” Grant said.
She has no plans for major changes at St. Ann, but schools need to continue to push forward, she said. There is room for improvement in the use of technology and overall, she explained.
Grant pointed to several factors that will be working in her favor as she transitions into administration. One is a veteran faculty with minimal turnover; Grant remembers jumping at the opportunity to apply last year when the school had a rare opening. Second is the support of the pastor, Father John Mink, and his associate, Father Rich Jasper, both of whom are familiar faces to the students.
Lastly, St. Ann just went through the reaccreditation process, which required an outlining of objectives. That is providing Grant with an outline of what she would like to accomplish. She is excited about the school and its future.
“St. Ann’s is not broken. St. Ann’s is recognized. It’s not teetering on the edge. Our enrollment is strong, our curriculum is strong.
“This school has been here a long time, and it’s got a great reputation. We have great faculty, we have great parish support, wonderful parents, great kids,” she said.
When she is not in the office, Grant likes to walk. That is very convenient, since her “commute” is a few blocks.