WILMINGTON — Cindy Mann, a longtime educator and administrator in the Diocese of Wilmington, announced her retirement as principal at Padua Academy on Jan. 16. This is Mann’s 10th year at Padua. She will step down at the end of June.
She submitted her letter of retirement to Oblate Father Mark Wrightson, pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish, and Louis De Angelo, superintendent of schools, Jan. 15 and told the school community the next day. Padua is part of St. Anthony’s Parish, along with St. Anthony of Padua School.
In a letter to the school community distributed Wednesday, Mann said she reached her decision “after prayerful consideration.”
“As you can imagine, this decision was not made lightly,” she wrote. “I have spent hours praying – asking for guidance along with the Lord’s direction for all the people of Padua and for me at this time in my life.”
Efforts to reach Mann and a Padua spokeswoman for this article were not successful.
De Angelo said he was grateful for Mann’s years of service.
“We wish Mrs. Mann continued blessings,” De Angelo said. He said information regarding posting of the vacancy “will follow shortly.”
Mann took the reins at Padua at the beginning of the 2009-10 academic year. In September, Padua reported its all-girls enrollment for this year at 623.
Mann said the experience of the girls has been her driving force, and they have had an effect on her as well.
“Your trust and your daughters’ enthusiasm has given me life – literally,” she wrote.
For a while last spring, it wasn’t clear that Mann would return for 2018-19. In March, she was fired by the Father Nicholas Waseline, who was pastor of St. Anthony’s, when she said she protested a planned increase in the assessment the parish would levy on the school. Students, parents and alumnae rallied to her support.
Bishop Malooly worked behind the scenes to help resolve the situation, Mann said at the time.
Father Waseline, who succumbed to cancer in April, reinstated Mann on March 27 under the terms of her contract.
Padua was the final stop for Mann during a long career in education. She was the principal of St. Paul School in Wilmington and Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Brandywine Hundred. She also served as an assistant superintendent of schools for the diocese. Before returning to the diocese as assistant superintendent, she was an executive vice president of the MBNA Foundation.
She also served as principal at Guardian Angels Catholic School in Clearwater, Fla.
In her letter to the school community, Mann said she has developed “an extremely effective administrative team,” which includes teachers as well as the principal and vice principal, “that will continue to drive Padua forward.”
The school has been very successful in attracting students and offering a first-class education, she wrote, but needs to maximize its fundraising and development. Father Wrightson, she said, approved a plan to go to a president/principal model, which is in place at Salesianum School, among others. The principal would remain in charge of the day-to-day educational operations of Padua, but the president would oversee fundraising and development. Mann said she has submitted recommendations to Father Wrightson for both of those roles.
Mann wrote that she is grateful for “this unforgettable, life-changing opportunity” and that she will not be invisible in her retirement.
“I will remain the watchful ‘grandmother.’ If you ever need me, I am just 45 minutes up the road in Landenberg. My ministry of education is not over.”