BELEN — A local parochial school may have new leadership this year but the educational traditions of the school will continue.
Andrea Harville has been named the new principal at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Belen, and her educational approach encourages problem solving and creative thinking.
Harville said she will pursue the STREAM — Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering and Math — model St. Mary’s has become known for.
“STREAM is so important. Our world is very ambiguous; things are not siloed,” Harville said. “In education, multi-disciplinary models create resilient problem solvers who find solutions in the ambiguous.
“It develops creative thinking and problem solving. They put it all together like you do in the real world.”
She said creative thinkers and problem solvers who think outside the box are needed in the world.
“We’re going to need that from our leaders,” she said. “This year, I really want to get to know the students, encourage them to know their gifts and strengths. Our staff and parents and children — everyone has something special to offer.”
Harville wants to focus on the ‘R’ — religion — within the curriculum as a way to build cultural identity through the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, a program that focuses on positive attributes such as joy, love, patience and self care.
“This helps build a good, strong Catholic spirit and identity,” she said. “It is character education corresponding with saints that personify the different attributes, and we ask the students to emulate their characteristics.”
Harville grew up in Indianapolis, Ind., and moved to New Mexico from the Ft. Wayne, Ind., area. She has more than 15 years in education, and received her administrator’s license in a post-masters program.
A Catholic school teacher before getting her licensure, Harville said applying for principalships is a very competitive process, both in the Midwest and here.
“If yo stop to think about it, schools have 20 or 60 employees and only one principal,” she said.
She and her husband, David, along with their 2-year-old daughter, frequently visited friends and family in the western part of the state and became attached to New Mexico.
“We always wanted to come live in this part of the country. So I applied and got the job,” Harville said. “Now we are only a couple hours from friends and family.”
Harville is excited about the new year at St. Mary’s.
“We had a really good turn out on our back-to-school night. We have quite a few new families,” she said. “It’s not too late for families to enroll.”
Enrollment is about 170 students at the pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, Harville said, and her goal is to get to 200 students by this time next year.
More information about St. Mary’s can be found online at stmarysbelen.com or by calling 864-0484.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.