Lisa Lepore, principal of St. Mary School in Cranston, who has devoted her entire career to Catholic education, recalls her first teaching position, nearly 34 years ago.
“Ironically a friend of mine said, ‘Two years and you need to leave because you’re not going to make any money.’ I did my first year and honestly never looked back. It was a good fit from day one. I always wanted to be a teacher. There was never any other profession. It was always education. And then when I started to teach in Catholic education, it was the right choice for me.”
Donna Peluso was honored to nominate Lepore for a 2019 Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Catholic Education. Peluso, a parishioner of St. Mary Church, is grandmother to two children who have been enrolled at St. Mary’s since they were in preschool. She shared how delighted she is with the education her grandchildren are receiving under the guidance of Principal Lepore.
“The respect for others and the kindness shared among this community of learners is rarely seen today in any setting,” she said. “Ms. Lepore has dedicated her entire professional life to the children and their families of the Diocese of Providence. She is truly a woman of distinguished character and dedication; one who is most worthy of this honor as she serves, mentors and celebrates with families so that they may learn and live a life in Christ each day. The amazing experiences she provides for every child attending St. Mary School are second to no other Catholic or public educational setting.”
This is Lepore’s 11th year serving the children and their families of St. Mary School, previously working as principal of St. Leo School in Pawtucket where she began her career as an English Literature teacher. In 2014, she was honored with the Distinguished Principal Award, presented by the Elementary Schools Department of the National Catholic Educational Association.
From sports teams to spelling bees, children at St. Mary School are treated to the best of opportunities in learning, said Peluso, adding that Lepore is also truly dedicated to her staff and school parents.
“She is at every PTA meeting, basketball game, or practice for all special school events. She always gives of her time — many hours beyond the school day. Making costumes, props for plays, selling goodies at the basketball games, leading a math lesson, or getting the students ready for their readings at Mass. Her energy for the children is never tiring nor waning. I cannot think of anyone who is more deserving of the Lumen Gentium Award than she. She truly lives a God loving life, and leads by Christian example always.”
Lepore shared her gratitude to her staff as well as the wonderful group of parents who she said are supportive and hardworking.
“Parents do whatever it is that needs to be done. They take it and run with it. They take care of one another. It’s a close-knit community,” said Lepore. “We are a family. To me, they are all my kids. You take care of them like you would your own. The classrooms are a family within themselves and the larger community which is the school and part of an even bigger community which is the parish. That’s probably the most important thing to me — that community.”
Currently, Lepore is implementing a Kindness Program at St. Mary’s, a school-wide effort to encourage students to always show respect and care to others through lessons and activities that inspire and empower.
“It’s all about taking care of each other,” said Lepore. “If someone is sad, we ask them why. It’s all about doing what Jesus would do and if you follow the Golden Rule, everything else will fall into place.”
Faith is at the forefront of St. Mary School, as students attend various liturgical celebrations throughout the year, including First Friday Mass, Mass on Holy Days and Stations of the Cross during Lent. Lepore shared that as a school community, families also gather to take part in monthly Sunday Mass as a chance to connect and support one another as families of faith.
“We try to get as many families to come to that Mass and it really makes a difference,” she said. “Kids who don’t ordinarily come to Mass are coming. That’s our future faith. We need to take care of that and nurture that. It’s an opportunity to showcase our school, to show that this is who we are and this is what we live every day.”
— AWARDS BANQUET —
The honorees will be awarded during a dinner at Twin River Event Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, May 15.
Guests wishing to purchase tickets to the dinner — whose proceeds will support Diocesan Youth Ministry — are asked to register online at dioceseofprovidence.org/lumen-gentium-awards.
For more information, please call 401-277-2121.