Xavier principal named school president, VP to become new principal

From left are Sister Joanie Nuckols, BVM, MaryBeth Mueller, and Sister Mary Joan Fitzgerald, BVM. MaryBeth Mueller is the executive director of the Division of Education and Evangelization and Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Phoenix. (submitted photo)

From left are Sister Joanie Nuckols, BVM, MaryBeth Mueller, and Sister Mary Joan Fitzgerald, BVM. MaryBeth Mueller is the executive director of the Division of Education and Evangelization and Superintendent of Schools, Diocese of Phoenix. (submitted photo)

Xavier College Preparatory has announced that, effective July 1, longtime Principal, Sister Mary Joan Fitzgerald, BVM, will become the school’s president, and Vice Principal of Academics and Campus Minister, Sister Joan Nuckols, BVM, will become its new principal.

The Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, announced the new appointments, noting that the dual leadership structure of president/principal is an emerging model of administration in Catholic secondary schools in recent years, offering shared authority and a division of responsibilities between two people that allow both president and principal to focus on better serving their Catholic high schools, students, families, and communities.

Since becoming principal in 1974, Sister Mary Joan Fitzgerald, BVM, has built a tradition of excellence at Xavier through the school’s innovative academic curriculum, community service, leadership development, and diverse extracurricular opportunities, according to a press release.

In September of 2013, Xavier was recognized for the third time in school history as a National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for its exemplary academic excellence.

Xavier has also been recognized nationally for academic excellence by the Catholic High School Honor Roll and, in March of 2015, the school became one of only two Catholic high schools in the nation to receive an Innovations in Catholic Education award for implementing exemplary, innovative programs to improve the teaching and learning of its students, faculty, and staff.

Xavier has received the Siemens Award for Advanced Placement, honoring high schools with high student success rates in AP math, science, and technology courses, as well as the Arizona Interscholastic Association’s prestigious H.A. Hendrickson, Tony Komadina, and Blue Cup Awards multiple times for overall excellence in academics, athletics, and activities.

Sister Joan’s many accolades include the Elizabeth Seton Award for Leadership to Diocesan Schools, the Ministry Award from the Diocese of Phoenix, the National Catholic Education Association’s Secondary Education Award, and the Innovations Award from the Arizona Technology in Education Association, the release stated.

Sister Joanie Nuckols, BVM, joined Xavier’s faculty in 1974 as a history teacher.  Prior to becoming the school’s Vice Principal of Academics and Campus Minister, she served as Department Chair of Social Studies and Theology, and she continues to teach AP European History. She has earned two Master’s degrees, one in Modern European History in 1975 from St. Louis University and the other in Educational Administration in 2007 from Grand Canyon University.

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