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The Institute of Notre Dame Selects Distinguished Educator Gail Donahue as New Principal
The Institute of Notre Dame, the oldest Catholic girls high school in Baltimore, has selected Ms. Gail Donahue as principal beginning next year. Ms. Donahue will assume the leadership role from Ms. Ann Seeley, who retires June 30, 2012.
Ms. Donahue is considered a national authority on curriculum design, faculty development and Catholic education. Since 1995, she has served on the Administrative Team as a Staff Developer and is currently Assistant Principal of Professional Development at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, a coeducational school sponsored by the Xaverian Brothers. Good Counsel, an International Baccalaureate school, enrolls 1,250 students, and is located in the Archdiocese of Washington in Olney, MD.
During her tenure at Good Counsel, Ms. Donahue has designed four notable programs for distinct student populations. The International Baccalaureate requires six subject area exams, research, reflection, and completion of an interdisciplinary seminar. St. Mary’s Scholar’s, an enrichment program for high-achieving students, broadens learning to include real-world experiences. The Academic Intervention Program identifies and follows freshmen at risk of failing and boasts a 99 percent success rate. The Heritage Speakers’ Spanish Class strengthens native speakers’ reading and writing skills and successfully transitions them to the Advanced Placement Spanish test.
Regarding faculty development, Ms. Donahue was instrumental in moving the faculty at Our Lady of Good Counsel from traditional teachercentered instruction to more student-centered active learning. The faculty now works in Professional Learning Teams designing common assessments, creating lessons and analyzing student work. The change has engaged the entire school community in learning through conversations focused on instruction. One result of the attention on student achievement is the number of Advanced Placement tests administered has nearly doubled and scores have increased to an 80 percent pass rate, an increase of 16 percent, over the last six years.
Ms. Donahue is deeply passionate about Catholic education, having taught 34 years in Catholic schools. She is an award-winning presenter at National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) events as well as those sponsored by the Center for Catholic School Effectiveness at Loyola University, Chicago. Ms. Donahue is an associate faculty at Notre Dame of Maryland University. In 2008, Ms. Donahue was honored as the Sr. Mary Lucille Award winner. The award was named and donated by journalist Tim Russert in honor of his most influential teacher and voted by her peers in the Archdiocese of Washington. She has consulted with schools nationally on topics such as digital learning, new teacher training, block scheduling and reading in the content area.
Ms. Donahue’s deep faith and transformative relationships with the School Sisters of Notre Dame led her to become a SSND Associate. “That decision has greatly enriched my spiritual journey. Like the Xaverians, the SSND’s charism of caring for and educating children and working for peace and justice throughout our community and world is exactly the tradition I embrace,” she says.
Mary L. Funke, Ed.D., the President of IND, expressed the thoughts of the entire IND community when she said, “The Institute of Notre Dame community is delighted to have Gail Donahue join us. She is a visionary who also knows how to get things done … a change agent who is regarded as collaborative and approachable … a lifelong learner whose mission is to bring education to others … and a person of boundless energy, enthusiasm, and good humor.”
“It is my honor to accept this position and the trust it shows in my leadership skills,” said Ms. Donahue. “I believe Catholic school leaders today must maintain our Catholic identity in a faith-filled environment while grooming students for the 21st century. Since we are preparing students for jobs that may not yet exist, it is our role is to give them the tools and teach them to think critically so they will ask questions, seek answers and become life-long learners. Leaders must find it in their power to develop character and to promote reading, writing, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, communication and digital information skills throughout the curriculum for students to be prepared for the global, challenging world of tomorrow.”
Ms. Donahue will complete a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership in May 2012 from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. She holds a M.A. in Reading from Trinity University and earned Administration and Supervision Certification from Notre Dame of Maryland University. In 2000 she finished a two-year certificate program from the National Staff Development Council Academy. As an undergrad she attended Penn State University earning a B.S. in Elementary Education.
About the Institute of Notre Dame
The Institute of Notre Dame is the first college preparatory school established by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the United States and is the oldest Catholic girls’ high school in Baltimore. The IND learning experience combines rigorous liberal arts and progressive‐