Veteran educator James Ridley will take over as interim principal at St. Mary’s July 1, replacing Dr. Mark DiFabio, who is leaving to run his own educational consulting business.
Ridley, 62, who retired as director at Lynn Tech in 2010 after a 34-year career in Lynn Public Schools, served as interim principal at Marshall Middle School from August to December of last year and will take on the same role at Breed Middle School from May 18 through the end of the school year.
“I’m very happy that St. Mary’s approached me,” Ridley said. “I know Lynn and I know St. Mary’s. This is a good opportunity for me to grow as well. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
In addition to two years as Tech director, Ridley’s career in Lynn Public Schools included nine years as an administrator at Breed, four as principal, and 23 years as an elementary school teacher. He also coached football and basketball at Tech for 22 years, and remains active in AAU basketball.
“We are thrilled to have someone with Jim’s experience coming to St. Mary’s,” said Grace Cotter Regan, St. Mary’s head of school. “He is already familiar with our school and many of our students, so we expect a seamless transition.”
Ridley said St. Mary’s students, faculty and parents can expect to see plenty of him.
“I will be highly visible inside and outside of the school,” he said. “That’s what has always worked for me.”
DiFabio came to St. Mary’s in 2013 from St. John’s Prep, where he was an assistant principal and theology teacher for six years.
“St. Mary’s is a fantastic school primarily because it has great people doing amazing things in the classroom and on the athletic field every day,” he said. “My time here has been fantastic. Lynn is an incredibly welcoming city.”
DiFabio pointed to curriculum enhancements, increased STEM offerings and the introduction of a program for international students as key accomplishments in his tenure at St. Mary’s.
“We’re grateful to Mark for moving us forward as an institution,” said Regan, who noted that next year’s incoming freshman class is the largest in four years.
With St. Mary’s — a Catholic, co-educational school for students in grades 6-12 — in the midst of an accreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, opting for an interim principal gives the school ample time to find a permanent replacement.
“Jim is a proven educator with leadership experience at the middle school and high school level,” said St. Mary’s board chair William Mosakowski. “He will be a mentor to students and faculty alike. We are very pleased to have him on board.”
“We are confident that under Jim’s leadership, St. Mary’s will build on the momentum of the last several years,” said board vice chair Dr. Elizabeth Twomey.
Ridley has agreed to stay at St. Mary’s as long as necessary. “Or as long as they’ll have me,” he quipped.
Ridley is a lifelong Lynn resident. He and his wife, Anne, have five adult children.