Bishop Hendricken principal to be honored at White House

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WARWICK — On Tuesday, May 3, Bishop Hendricken Principal Joseph Brennan will join a group of fellow “Great Educators” from around the country at the White House to be recognized by President Obama for the work they do in a ceremony on the South Lawn to mark National Teacher Appreciation Day.

During the event, the president will also recognize the National Teacher of the Year, chosen from among the 50 State Teachers of the Year, and will highlight the progress the country has made to improve its education system over the past seven years.

“I’m just so honored to be chosen,” Brennan said last week in an interview with Rhode Island Catholic.

“I was so stunned. I couldn’t believe that anything like that would ever happen. It’s just very humbling and I’m just so grateful for it.”

Brennan was nominated for the honor by diocesan Catholic Schools Superintendent Daniel J. Ferris.

Ferris said he was impressed by the fact that Brennan knows all 900 of his students by name, as well as something about each one of them.

“They know he is their advocate and best support,” Ferris wrote in his nomination of Brennan. “He is also firm, fair and just. The students respect him. The faculty respect him. The parents have complete respect for him. He embodies the mission of the school in thought, word and deed.”

Ferris said Brennan is very deserving of the honor to be recognized as he is a person of virtue and integrity, and understands the art of teaching, as well as learning.

“He is always present and present for anyone who needs him,” Ferris wrote in his letter. “He consistently exercises excellent judgment. His reputation as an educator extends well beyond the school community. He leads by serving others and models high expectations, sincerity and humility. He’s a great principal and a great man.”

A graduate of Bishop Hendricken’s Class of ’72 himself, Brennan has worked at the Warwick Catholic high school for boys for the past 39 years, serving as a teacher, coach, guidance counselor, director of guidance and now, as principal since 2009.

During Tuesday’s event, Brennan will gather with other educators as the president honors the 2016 Teacher of the Year and finalists.

This National Teacher Appreciation Day, his last as president, Obama has broadened the list of educators to be honored beyond the traditional State Teachers of the Year and the announcement of the National Teacher of the Year.

“The president has interacted with so many amazing educators and teachers through the years that he wanted to make this year’s ceremony a wider version of that event,” said Hannah Hankins, a White House staff member in the Executive Office of the President who is assisting in coordinating the event.

In an interview with Rhode Island Catholic, Hankins said the work being done by educators is incredibly important to the next generation, and the president sought to have a celebration that embodies all of the great work being done in schools across the country.

“This event is to celebrate everyone from teachers to principals to aides to everyone who’s helping to make the school environment as great as it should be,” she said.