Home Education and Careers St. Edmond’s Academy turns to familiar faces as it implements dual-principal model

St. Edmond’s Academy turns to familiar faces as it implements dual-principal model

Steve Skolfield and Juliana McClellan of St. Edmond's Academy. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

BRANDYWINE HUNDRED — A couple of familiar faces will be in the directors’ offices at St. Edmond’s Academy this year. Juliana McClellan, appointed to lead the lower grades, has been a teacher at the all-boys school for four years, and Steve Skolfield, the head of the upper grades, returns to the place where he had his first teaching job.

This is the first time St. Edmond’s has used a dual-principal model. Headmaster Brian Ray said the former principal, Tricia Scott, suggested it, and the school decided it was the right move. McClellan, he said, had administrative experience and enjoys a good relationship with the teachers.

“She definitely rose to the top,” Ray said.

McClellan, 32, came to Delaware from New York because of her husband Andrew’s employment. She had taught first grade for six years at a Catholic school in New York and said she was fortunate to land at St. Edmond’s when they moved south.

“It was hard to leave New York, but finding a job at St. Edmond’s kind of gave me a home here in Delaware,” she said. “I’ve been here ever since because the community is wonderful. The teachers work really well together. Everybody wants to do something for someone else.”

One of the things she enjoys about St. Edmond’s is the small class size. After having 31 in a class in New York, she encountered 10 to 15 in Wilmington.

“We’re able to teach every kind of learner. If you’re somebody who can’t sit at a desk all day, no problem. We don’t ask you to. Like we say, we know boys, and I believe we do,” she said.

Skolfield spent eight years teaching math and science to fourth- through seventh-grade. He left to become the lead math coach at the professional development center at the University of Delaware, traveling the state to work with teachers.

“Most of my days were spent in middle schools in Brandywine and Red Clay helping teachers support math curriculum and getting students engaged in the math curriculum,” he said.

The decision to leave St. Edmond’s was difficult, and when the opportunity to return presented itself, he took it. He is happy to report to the same school every day and spend it with the boys.

Skolfield, 34, is a Wilmington native who attended Tower Hill and the University of Delaware, where he is currently pursuing a doctorate. His first job out of college was at St. Edmond’s.

“I had never worked in an all-boys setting before,” he said. “I had done a lot of work before that, not in a formal setting, but in camps and things like that, and I had always had a rapport with the boys and understood where they were coming from.”

Both new principals have some ideas that they would like to implement or emphasize. Skolfield said he wants to integrate more student voices into various facets of the St. Edmond’s experience, such as instruction and discipline.

“Really listening to where kids are coming from,” is how he puts it. He wants to know what they understand and make sure the school is delivering what the students need.
“We can only do that through having instruction that gives them time to have a voice and puts them in a situation where their voice is really accented,” he said.

McClellan will do a lot of observing this year. She plans to be in a classroom as much as possible. She said the school is in a good position and that having two leaders will help it improve.

McClellan graduated from St. Joseph’s University and Manhattan College. She likes to get back to New York to visit family when she can, although she spent most of her summer at St. Edmond’s.

“My sister’s an assistant principal at a Catholic school in Brooklyn, so we have a lot in common. A lot of friends are still there, but actually a lot of them like to come down and visit us in Delaware. I didn’t expect that,” she said.

She and her husband like to travel, and she spends some time watching television. But not too much, especially during the school year.

Skolfield and his wife, Alyssa, have a 2-year-old son, Austin, who “takes up a lot of my time. I tend to go to a lot of sporting events in Philadelphia.” He also spends time with friends in Wilmington and nearby.