After 4 decades of service in education and leadership, current principal Mary Petelin has announced her retirement effective this year. Mary has served the last 6 years as the head of St. Mary School Chardon and helped to bring many new initiatives to life during her tenure. Under her leadership, St. Mary Chardon has become an example of how innovative education can blend within a Catholic and service based culture. Just this year, the school became the first Ohio Department of Education STEM designated school in Geauga County and one of only 44 in the state. Current 6th grade teacher Julie Fedak said, “I feel privileged to have worked with Mary Petelin. She has a way of encouraging her teachers to grow as teachers, even if it is to go out of their comfort zone. Mary is also there to support that growth. She sees the potential and helps the school to move in that direction. After seeing the strengths of her teachers, she moved us to be the 1st STEM school in Geauga County. Mary’s focus is always for the good of the students – what will help them learn the most, grow stronger in their faith, and prepare them for the future.”
Mrs. Mary Petelin received her Bachelor of Arts in Education from Notre Dame College and holds teaching licenses in Special Education (K-12), Elementary Education (1-8), and High School English (7-12). She has her graduate degree from Ursuline College with a Master of Arts in Educational Administration (PreK-9). In addition, she has advanced studies at the University of Notre Dame ACE Academy.
As a teacher, Mary worked in special education at St. Mary Magdalene School in Willowick as well as at St. Vitus in Cleveland. As an administrator she helped to lead at St. Paul’s in Euclid, St. Cosmos and Damian in Twinsburg and was principal at St. Rita’s in Solon before coming to St. Mary Chardon. One of her largest roles outside of the everyday classroom came at the St. Vitus Slovenian School where she was a language teacher from 1984-2004 and also principal from 1997-2004.
Mary has served as a Board member on the Cleveland Catholic Principal’s LPDC, Diocesan Cohort Leader, Mentor Principal and St. Vitus School Alumna Board – Director of Scholarships. During her career, Mary received both the Crystal Apple Award and the National Blue Ribbon Award.
As principal at St. Mary Chardon, Mrs. Petelin could be found after school hours helping to promote the school within the community by hosting a spot at Trunk or Treat, leading an after school Lego Club, or hosting a Principal’s Book Club discussion. She is one of few administrators that could be found rain or shine and in sleeting snow, outside unloading cars and busses every morning at the start of the school day. Mary helped to initiate a 1:1 laptop program for the school, countless STEM initiatives leading up to the recent state designation and is hoping to leave a fund and plan for a Maker’s Space for the next year.
When asked about her plans for retirement Mary said, “retirement sounds like an end, but I see it as a multitude of possibilities. I have so many things I would like to do and try! Because of time restraint, I have put off volunteering. I would like to do that both with adult literacy and hospice. I plan to travel to new places and start checking off “bucket list” destinations. Most of all I plan to spend time with my family – especially my children and grandchildren. I would also like to reconnect with family abroad and delve more into our family history and roots. So much to do and see! So little time!”
St. Mary Chardon Pastor Father Dan Redmond said, “Mary has been an incredible blessing for both our School and our Parish-at-large. Her energy, talent, leadership and dedication to Catholic education have left a legacy of excellence. May God bless her abundantly as she begins a new chapter in her life.