Message from Principal Joan Dollinger

Message from Principal Joan Dollinger

Dear ARCS Families,

Peace and all good!

It is hard to believe that the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year is upon us!  It is a great blessing and humble privilege to join you as the new principal of Assumption Regional Catholic School, which has a rich 60-year history of providing a nurturing environment for students to grow in their of love of God and neighbor, as well as receiving an education that focuses on the whole child:  spiritually, academically, socially, and physically!  I am really looking forward to sharing in the ministry of Catholic education with our faculty, staff, students, parents, clergy, church community, and local community.

I grew up in Cape May, New Jersey and attended Our Lady Star of the Sea School and Wildwood Catholic High School.  My undergraduate days were spent at The College of New Jersey earning a BS in Business and Business Education.  Right after graduation, I attended Fordham University where I received a MS in Religious Studies.  At a later time, I graduated from Seton Hall University with a M.Ed. in Educational Administration and Leadership.

My educational experiences include teaching at several Catholic elementary and high schools:  Lacordaire Academy ~ Secondary Division in Upper Montclair, New Jersey; Saint Joseph Regional School in Sea Isle City, New Jersey; and Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Cape May, New Jersey.  I was also blessed to serve as principal of Saint Nicholas School in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey; and Our Lady Star of the Sea School in Cape May.

Concurrent with teaching theology and being the director of guidance at Lacordaire Academy, I was also part of the Catholic campus ministry team at Montclair State University.  For the past eight years, I was privileged to serve the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia as the administrator of Saint Mary by-the-Sea Retreat House in Cape May Point, New Jersey.

I am supported in this ministry by my husband, Craig Durstewitz.  We live in Cape May, and Craig is an operating room nurse at Cape Regional Medical Center.  We have been blessed with three awesome children, Matthew (Melissa), Timothy, and Elizabeth. All three attended Catholic school.  Matthew and Melissa are expecting their first child in November, and Craig and I are excited about this next adventure of our life’s journey!  We also have an Australian Shepherd, Calliope, who gives us great joy.

My life is full and rich, and I enjoy spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, riding my bike, walking, exercising, reading, singing, and playing the guitar. I belong to Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Cape May, am a member of the Board of Limited Jurisdiction for Wildwood Catholic High School, and a member of several organizations that assist families and persons who are in need.  For the past 20 years, I have been an Associate in Mission of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Philadelphia. God is good!

It has been my long-held belief that each ministry in which I was involved was the right place to be at that time.  I have always trusted God’s nudges and am so glad that God led me to ARCS!  I have enjoyed meeting many of the children and families over the past two months, in addition to the awesome faculty and staff!  I am also very grateful for the support of our home parish, OLPH, as well as our regional parishes, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and Saint Thomas.  We are blessed, indeed!

As we step into this new school year, I am mindful of the passion, dedication, love, and commitment shown to Assumption Regional Catholic School for the past 26 years by Mrs. Mary Ellen Schurtz.  I am grateful for the time that I was able to spend with Mrs. Schurtz in June, and for her gracious welcoming and support of me.  Moving through this school year and beyond, may we feel Mrs. Schurtz’s presence with us on the holy ground that is ARCS.  How blessed we are to share in a faith that assures us that our life extends into heaven!

I am grateful to the Office of Catholic Schools, the ARCS Principal Search Committee, and Father Nick for inviting me to be the principal of ARCS.  Father Tom has been a great support since his arrival, and I look forward to working with Father Perry and Father Ed as well!

Our Mission at ARCS is to create ~ inspire ~ nurture Gospel values within our students!  I am so excited to be a part of such an awesome mission!


Joan Dollinger


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