The new school year will mean changes in Bill Schilling’s routine, but they are good changes for the new principal at Immaculate Conception School in Elkton, Md. He was principal last year at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia, more than two hours from his home in Milton, Del. His commute now isn’t exactly short – about 75 miles – but it is more manageable.
He will be able to spend more time with his wife, Faye, and their two young boys, Mac and Gus, although they will not be attending Immaculate Conception with their dad. That’s because they already go to school with Mom, who is the principal at Ss. Peter and Paul Elementary School in Easton, Md.
“That was the reason for looking for a position down here,” Schilling explained during a trip to Wilmington in early August. “Immaculate Conception was open, and it got great reviews for the staff and the students and the family atmosphere that exists there. I just wanted to be part of that Catholic education.”
And at Immaculate Conception, he will be in a parish staffed by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, who also staff Father Judge.
Before going into education 21 years ago, Schilling was a police officer in Philadelphia. He always thought about getting into schools and sees parallels between the two occupations.
“Basically, I think police work is the same as education in that you’re trying to help people. That’s your main goal when you get up and go to work every day. The nature of the business is to make the world a better place and help people,” he said.
After teaching in Philadelphia public schools, he was a principal at two charter schools in the city. His wife worked with him at one as the curriculum director. But his ties to Catholic schools are deep. He graduated from Father Judge, and he has two degrees from Catholic universities, including Holy Family College in Philadelphia, where he was an adjunct professor for eight years.
He spent part of his summer getting to know Immaculate Conception, its families and culture. Schilling attended the Cecil County Fair and invited parents and students to stop by to say hello.
“It’s a very unique bond between students and parents and faculty,” he said. “I like the family atmosphere and the Catholic identity that we’ve got.”
He would like to introduce a one-to-one technology component to the school, where each student has access to a tablet or laptop. He also wants to upgrade the Spanish instruction and introduce a science, technology, engineering and mathematics curriculum that “meets the needs of today’s youth and prepares them to get into the best Catholic high schools.”
Both of his charter schools had students from kindergarten through high school, so he is familiar with the age groups of his students. The children come from diverse backgrounds, but they all buy into what Immaculate Conception is attempting to do, he said. A seasoned staff will help ease the transition, he added.
When he’s in Milton, he and his family like to go to the beach, but during the summer they usually visited later in the day, after the traffic had subsided. Now that the busiest of the vacation season is over, they will be able to go on the weekends as long as the weather holds out.
He and his wife, who also have two adult children, also like to travel and to experience the restaurants in eastern Sussex County. Their younger boys’ extracurricular activities also keep them busy.
Schilling is ready for his newest adventure. “I am beyond excited. It’s one of those things where I wake up every day and I’m excited to go to work. I’m excited for us to make Immaculate Conception greater than it already is.”