For the first time in its 152 years of existence, the all-boys St Stanislaus High School in Bandra will have a woman principal. Breaking away from its tradition of appointing men Jesuit priests as principal, the school has picked Anna Correa, who has worked at the institute for the past 27 years, for the top job.
Correa, who has taught mathematics and science to Class 9 and Class 10, will succeed Father Jude Fernandes as principal from the upcoming academic year. Father Fernandes will be moving to another Jesuit-run school, St Mary’s School, Mazgaon.
“There has been an unbroken line of priests who have headed the institute, but I am confident that I will be just as good,” said Correa.
The decision was taken by the school management to keep up with the times. “We felt it was high time for a change. I am a firm believer that women have an inherent quality that makes them good leaders,” said Father Errol Fernandes, manager of the school. “As a woman, she will bring something new to the school.”
Father Francis Swamy, co-ordinator of the Jesuit School Board, said personnel crisis was the reason for the decision. “Nowadays, less young men are willing to take up priesthood. In the olden days, joint families would take pride if one of their sons became a priest, but that is not the case anymore,” said Swamy. “We are training lay persons to run our educational institutes according to the Jesuit philosophy. We have tried it in the past, in two schools, and we were happy with the outcome.”
Fernandes, however, said Correa’s appointment was not driven by any shortage of qualified male principals.
The move has been well received by teachers and parents of kids at the school. “We are very happy that this trend of having male priests as principals has been broken,” said Bindu Corriea, a teacher and a parent from the school. “A lady heading a boy’s school, and that too, a Jesuit school is no mean feat. We are very proud of it.”