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New principal, new ideas

Whitney Cataldo debuts as Grafton’s new principal

Cataldo+hands+the+microphone+to+Kevin+Montini%2C+history+teacher%2C+to+share+his+ideas.
Cataldo hands the microphone to Kevin Montini, history teacher, to share his ideas.

Cataldo hands the microphone to Kevin Montini, history teacher, to share his ideas.

Cataldo hands the microphone to Kevin Montini, history teacher, to share his ideas.

Sami Wanderer, Editor-in-Chief

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Whitney Cataldo has filled Grafton High School’s open principal position after Royce Hart’s retirement, returning to her roots in High School education after one year as principal of Kraft Elementary School.

“When Grafton opened up it couldn’t have been a better opportunity for me,” Cataldo said.

Cataldo has been in education for 18 years. While her positions in education have ranged from high school teacher to elementary school principal, Cataldo said she has a heart for high school and enjoys being able to shape a single school.

Cataldo’s wide-range of positions in education, including the Hampton City Schools IB program director, Poquoson High School assistant principal, Woodside High School assistant principal of instruction, and Kraft Elementary School principal, have taught her important lessons that she will bring with her to the role of high school principal.

As director of the IB program, Cataldo learned how to help students decompress and figure out who to talk to. In dealing with gifted students, she focused on getting them ready for college, helping them decide what courses to take and giving them advice on balancing all their activities.

She said she plans to continue to be a resource for students as principal.

“I will have an open door policy, so if you want to talk about anything anytime, I’m available,” Cataldo said.

Her policy reflects students’ wishes that the principal be willing to listen to them and make real changes.

“She has to know what the students want,” Zachary Sturm, sophomore, said.

Sloane Youtsey, junior, said she thinks the most important thing for Cataldo to do is allow students to do more activities with the school.

Cataldo safely views the eclipse with administration team.

 

“I think she’s already starting to get things done that we wanted,” Youtsey said.

Before she worked her way up in education, though, Cataldo learned an important lesson.

“As a teacher, that’s when I really learned the importance of relationships and how much it means to build relationships with students,” Cataldo said.

When she became an administrator, Cataldo expanded the idea that relationships are essential to include those with teachers as well.

“That’s what I really liked when I got into administration, not only am I impacting one classroom, but you’re impacting a whole school,” Cataldo said.

Cataldo has already begun to form relationships with students and faculty by coming to sporting events and meeting with students at the Leadership Forum. In both places she has demonstrated and expressed her desire to increase school spirit.

“I really want that school spirit because I think that helps everyone buy in and feel like a family,” Cataldo said.

Students said they think her energy and outgoing nature will translate to school spirit.

“She’s way more into getting school spirit up,” Youtsey said.

One other way Cataldo wants to impact Grafton is to recognize achievement on all fronts. While Cataldo recognizes that the SOL and AP tests are important to see how the school is improving and stacking up against other schools, she thinks other subjects deserve recognition too.

“I don’t think people understand that besides SOL scores, we have lots of good data to talk about with what students are doing,” Cataldo said.

Cataldo also stressed that she wants a lot of input from students, parents, and teachers during her first year, and make small adjustments to fit their unique concerns.

“As a parent, it’s always an interesting observation to see how an administrator balances being parent, student, and teacher focused,” Martha Owens, former PTSA president, said, “I’m hoping she’s up to the challenge of finding the balance.”

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New principal, new ideas