New Seton Catholic Preparatory principal brings extensive leadership experience in Los Angeles to role, is eager to mold teenagers - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

New Seton Catholic Preparatory principal brings extensive leadership experience in Los Angeles to role, is eager to mold teenagers

August 6th, 2017 development
New Seton Catholic Preparatory principal brings extensive leadership experience in Los Angeles to role, is eager to mold teenagers
Sports and Recreation

By Colleen Sparks

When students return to class next week at Seton Catholic Preparatory, they will see a new principal excited to use his vast leadership experience in Los Angeles to help teens develop their character.

Victor Serna, who previously worked as principal at St. Turibius Catholic School, a K-8 campus in Los Angeles, has taken the reins at Seton, which expects to have about 585 students in grades 9 through 12 this year. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix in March announced Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted had appointed Serna to the position at Seton.

Former Seton principal Pat Collins, who had worked in various roles at Seton since 1992, including the past 12 years as principal, retired after last year at the campus on North Dobson Road.

Serna, who lives in Gilbert with his wife, Evelyn, also previously had served as a master principal for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles last school year. As one of only five Catholic school administrators in the role of master principal for the Archdiocese there, he trained and mentored a new principal, who ultimately took his place when he left St. Turibius, where he had been principal from 2013 to 2017.

“I feel that being a high school principal, it gives us a lot of engagement with young adults, teenagers transitioning into becoming young adults, to really instill with them their values and evangelize them through our gospel message of love and acceptance of others,” Serna said. “It’s really like their last opportunity they have to really form themselves with their faith values. That’s what drew (me) back to high school.”

Previously, he had been assistant principal and dean of students at Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Los Angeles, his alma mater. He also had taught science and religion and coached football while at that high school, where he served from 2006 to 2010. Serna worked with younger students when he was principal at Our Lady of Guadalupe School, a K-8 campus in Los Angeles, from 2010 to 2013. He was a fourth-grade teacher and athletic director at another Catholic K-8 school in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2006.

Serna, who has also worked at nonprofit organizations establishing youth sports programs, honed his leadership skills as the deanery chairman or lead principal for the Elementary School Leadership Council for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles from 2014 to last school year. In that role, he mentored fellow principals in the same geographic area and brought their concerns to the Leadership Council, as well as helped form policies the Department of Catholic Schools considered.

Besides offering lots of practical experience as a school leader, Serna also has strong academic credentials that have prepared him to be a principal. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in educational administration from California State University-Northridge. Serna also has a master’s degree in secondary education from Mount St. Mary’s University in Los Angeles and is working on a master’s degree in instructional leadership from that school.

Serna said Seton’s “great programs and great offerings” for students drew his attention. He also said he was attracted to Seton’s mission, which is “to provide a college preparatory curriculum within a Catholic faith community focusing on academic excellence, leadership and loving service to others.”

The new principal said he also loves the school’s strong emphasis on “faith formation for the students and faculty,” including daily Mass celebrated on campus and the focus on character, faith, love, determination and courage, the “charisms of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.”

“Those are very visible in the school,” Serna said. “Every parent I’ve met so far, every student, they’ve always commented on how well-rounded the students (are) when they come out of Seton. When you receive a Catholic education, you go through an educational experience that is rooted in the gospel message of love.”

He said he wants to keep “building on the great work that Pat Collins and her team have accomplished over the years.” With his heavy background in sports, Serna said he wants to be “as supportive as I can be to make sure our athletic excellence continues.”

Dr. David Sorkin, Seton assistant principal, said he is “excited for Victor to join the Seton community as principal.”

“Seton has served the East Valley as a premier Catholic college prep school for the past 60 years, and with Victor’s experience, is poised to continue providing the best Catholic college prep education to East Valley families,” Sorkin said. “Victor brings a wealth of experience and knowledge that will help Seton continue serving students while they develop their faith, academic excellence, leadership, and loving service to others.”

Serna said he loves the East Valley and he and his wife have received a warm welcome from residents. Though Los Angeles and Chandler have many differences, he said he has seen many similarities and he laughed, saying, “I am loving my commute in the mornings.”

“I don’t see a lot of difference,” Serna said. “There are some hardworking individuals that want the best for their kids. That doesn’t matter what city, state, town. I’ve met people who want to see their community improve, to see their kids grow up to be model citizens and members of the church that are well-educated and informed. That doesn’t have any boundaries.”

Classes start August 9 at Seton. A student orientation, parent orientation and meet-the-teacher back-to-school informational event will take place August 7 at the school at 1150 N. Dobson Road. Student orientation is from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the new parent orientation is from 5 to 6 p.m. and the meet-the-teacher part of the event is from 6:15 to 8 p.m. New and returning students go to the meet-the-teacher night, while new students and their parents typically attend the student and parent orientations. Everyone is welcome at the events, which will take place at the school, 1150 N. Dobson Road in Chandler.

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