New President at St. Mary Magdalen School

The former Nativity BVM School principal started first as vice principal at St. Mary Magdalen School in July.

Former Nativity BVM School Principal Mary Anne Johnston found a new home at St. Mary Magdalen School. (Photo: Courtney Elko)
Former Nativity BVM School Principal Mary Anne Johnston found a new home at St. Mary Magdalen School. (Photo: Courtney Elko)
Former Nativity BVM School Principal Mary Anne Johnston found a new home at St. Mary Magdalen School in July as its vice principal and now she'll be taking on the role as school president.

School Principal Barbara Burke says she and Johnston will have shared leadership roles at the Catholic school and she envisions each of them bouncing ideas off of each other. The school's former president retired in October so it was a good time for Johnston to transition into the role, Burke says. 

Name:  Mary Anne Johnston 

School:  St. Mary Magdalen School

Position:  School President

Years in the Industry:  40 years

Teaching History: 

Johnston began her teaching career in England (where she had been attending school) as a primary school teacher and when she returned to the States she spent three years teaching at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in South Philadelphia. She then worked as a choreographer and development director at Cardinal O'Hara High School, before moving back to teaching at St. Andrew the Apostle in Drexel Hill for 15 years. Then she moved to an administrative role and was principal at Nativity BVM School in Media for seven years before the school closed in June 2012. In July, Johnston became vice principal at St. Mary Magdalen School and is now president.

What is the role of the school's president:

The duties are similar to a vice principal with the addition of overseeing the school climate and culture. Vice principal is more behavior and discipline and president is more of a broad scope. I'll do relationship building with the community and focus on recruitment and marketing outreach. 

Why did you become a teacher:

I became a teacher because of my absolute love of children, for no other reason. And then becoming a Catholic educator is even more exciting because I am able to touch the souls of each of the little kids we encounter and it's an awesome gift. I get to say yes every day and accept that gift. 

Why did you step into the administration side of education:

My former principal at St. Andrews encouraged me to move into an administration role and I knew it was time for something different. 

What are you most excited about in your new role as president:

I'm excited about working with Principal Barbara Burke and being mobile leaders who move the school ahead. It's already a fantastic school but saying, "yes this is excellent but we always have a better one in us." The team effort and collaboration will be excellent. It's about growing the vision and dreaming big. 

What do you hope your students get out of the school:

I want them to move forward with a sense of the Gospel message and become what they are intended to be. I want them to be a person of thanksgiving who serves the community and uses the gifts and talents that God has given them.


If you could change anything about education overall, what would it be:

We have to be life-long learners ourselves. If we don't do that we're not serving our children. The thing we have to change is that we have to look into the heart of each and every child and meet them where they are and elevate them to be what they really are intended to be. 

What do you like best about your current school:

I like that I have the opportunity to continue my journey in Catholic education. I always feel like I'm just passing through but I want to give you 125 million percent of myself when I'm passing through. 

St. Mary Magdalen School will hold an open house on Jan. 26 and 27. Find more details here

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