December 21, 2014
Dalhart—Sean Riley has done a little bit of everything in his young life…so far.
He interned on the movie, O’Brother Where Art Thou?. He worked as a writer, photographer and graphic artist for Louisiana Conservationist magazine in Baton Rouge.
He can now add Elementary School Principal to his resume.
Riley has been named the new principal at St. Anthony of Padua School, replacing Melissa Meneses.
“We are sad to see Melissa and her family take leave of us, but we are excited to welcome Sean Riley and his family to the Texas Panhandle,” said St. Anthony of Padua Church pastor Monsignor Michael Colwell, JCL.
Riley will begin his new job on Monday, Jan. 5.
A native of Baton Rouge, Riley attended St. Alphonsus Church in his youth. After high school, he enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where he met his wife, Candy. He graduated with honors in 2001, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Radio, Television and Film with an English Minor.
After his stint with Louisiana Conservationist, Riley felt compelled to enter education and teach in Mississippi schools. In 11 years, he primarily taught English Language Arts at the middle and high school levels. In 2006, Riley developed an innovative high school video/screenwriting program to enrich student writing skills.
“I was awarded a Jordan Fundamental Grant for the program that same year, and a year later, I was invited as a featured speaker to the Mississippi Rising education conference to present my work,” he said.
Most recently, Riley worked in Covington County School District in Mississippi as a high school English teacher, serving in a number of leadership roles, such as English department chair, a Subject Area and School Improvement committee member, as well as a district Professional Learning Community facilitator.
In 2012, Riley developed an interest in working in an administrative capacity. He enrolled at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university, to study educational administration. He received a Master of Science degree in Educational Administration earlier this year.
For the last nine years, Riley and his family have resided in Petal, Miss. His wife, Candy, has served as a kindergarten teacher assistant and Model School Art Director for Sacred Heart School in Hattiesburg since 2010. The couple are the parents of a son, Kieran, who is currently an eighth grade student.
The West Texas Catholic sent Riley a few questions via email to discuss his new post:
The West Texas Catholic: How did you find out about the Diocese of Amarillo and what led you to apply for this job?
Sean Riley: “I believe I initially found out about the Diocese of Amarillo and the principal job at St. Anthony of Padua School through a job advertisement on Catholicjobs.com. Attending the University of Scranton rekindled a love of the Catholic faith and, after working in public schools for 11 years, I really wanted to become a part of a private Catholic school.”
WTC: What goals do you have for the Spring Semester at St. Anthony of Padua School?
Riley: “I think the primary emphasis should be on maintaining a sense of normalcy for all during this transition period. However, I intend to use this time to gather as much data and information as possible in order to work with students, parents, faculty and staff and the larger community to develop goals and a plan moving forward into next school year and beyond.”
WTC: What is your philosophy in regards to Catholic Education?
Riley: “My philosophy in regard to Catholic Education is the development of the student as a whole person. Our students should be as strong and accomplished in their spiritual growth as their academic growth after leaving St. Anthony of Padua School. A large part of this is using classroom learning to affect positive change in the local community as well as the global society.”
WTC: What can people from Dalhart expect from you as you begin this new job?
Riley: “People from Dalhart can expect that, first and foremost, I will always have the best educational interests of their children in mind with every decision that is made at the school level. I will work tirelessly to ensure that SAPCS is the very best it can be.”
WTC: The final word is yours, Sean…
Riley: “From my short time in the city, I have already received a very warm welcome and made to feel like part of the Dalhart and St. Anthony of Padua family. My family and I are extremely excited to move to the city and begin this new chapter of our lives and we are looking forward to a fruitful school-church-community partnership for years to come. This will truly be a unique experience for me. Many of my years in education have been spent trying to elevate schools to a satisfactory level; however, with St. Anthony of Padua School, the challenge will be to maintain and even transcend its current state of excellence.”