“I’m beyond excited. It’s nice to come home. You want to return home. The education here made me a better person.” — Bill Schilling
When Father Judge High School began searching for a new principal in March, 50 or so people applied for the position.
The search committee, according to school president Brian King, conducted an intense, deliberate process.
In the end, the committee chose a veteran educator and Judge guy.
Bill Schilling, the principal at New Foundations Charter High School and a 1976 Judge graduate, will become principal of his alma mater, effective July 1.
“I’m beyond excited,” he said. “It’s nice to come home. You want to return home. The education here made me a better person.”
Schilling, 58, grew up on Montague Street and attended St. Bernard Grammar School. He received a degree in criminal justice from Holy Family.
His professional career began as a correctional officer at Holmesburg Prison. He was a Philadelphia police officer for 13 years, working in the 8th and 35th police districts and being assigned to the district attorney’s office.
He has master’s degrees in education from Holy Family and educational administration from Arcadia.
He decided to go into education for the same reason he became a cop.
“I wanted to help people,” he said.
Schilling became a teacher at MaST Community Charter School and later the principal at the high school.
For the last 12 years, he’s been at New Foundations, including seven as the high school principal.
“It’s been great to be part of the two best charter schools in the state,” he said.
Today, Schilling lives in Delaware. He has four children. His wife, Faye, a Little Flower graduate, is the new principal of Saints Peter and Paul, a kindergarten through 12th grade school in Easton, Maryland.
Schilling replaces the Rev. James Dalton, who successfully guided Judge through the rigorous Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools re-accreditation.
Dalton will move on to become school minister at Neumann-Goretti.
King described Dalton as an extremely hard worker who started his days early and ended them late. He was particularly helpful raising school morale and improving technology.
“He’s amazing. He did a yeoman’s job for us,” he said. “I don’t think we could ask any more from Father Dalton.”
King said the baton handoff from Dalton to Schilling will be smooth, thanks in part to an engaged faculty.
The change will mean, for the first time, neither Judge’s president nor principal will be an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Judge plans to hire a director of Salesian spirituality.
King wants his principal to help offer opportunities for students and make for a positive high school experience. The new principal will encourage the teenagers to respect themselves, their family and their school as part of becoming Salesian gentlemen.
In addition, he expects Schilling to assist with alumni support.
The school president was impressed that New Foundations offered 29 electives and 14 advanced-placement classes.
Schilling will lead a school that draws students from 70 Catholic, public and charter elementary schools. Next school year, they will each have an iPad or Chromebook.
Many of these young men are looking ahead to college. Others plan a career in the military. Some are overcoming learning disabilities.
Career and Technical Education (CTE) training will focus on business, science and the trades, with students having the opportunity to attend a training program offered by District Council 21 Painters and Allied Trades.
The school has a television studio and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) laboratory.
King is confident Schilling will have no trouble adjusting.
“Bill’s the right guy. He’s transformed and built schools out. MaST launched its high school under his guidance,” he said.
And Schilling is eager to get to work.
“There are a lot of things to do, putting things in place and meeting with staff and Mr. King,” he said. “We’re going to raise the bar.”
Judge’s freshman class in September will number 243, a great total in this day and age.
They, and the other students, will have the chance to take college credits while they’re in high school.
The school uniform will be changing in September for all but the seniors. Besides wearing the charcoal pants, the boys will don navy blue 1/4-zip sweaters with the letters “FJ.”
At Judge, a bunch of teachers, staffers and coaches are graduates.
Schilling will be reunited with two of his former teachers. Jim “Duck” McDonald, class of 1964, now works in admissions. Charlie Huckel, class of 1966, is now director of development. King said McDonald and Huckel, along with the Rev. Joe Campellone, the school’s former president and current consultant, would form three-fourths of Judge’s Mount Rushmore.
Since leaving Judge, Schilling has stayed in contact with some fellow alums, made donations to the school and attended the annual Thanksgiving football game against Abraham Lincoln.
Like at New Foundations, he plans to greet students as they arrive in the morning, walk the hallways and occasionally sit in on classes.
Chromebooks might be replacing textbooks, but Schilling sees Judge as much the same place as it was when he was a student in the 1970s.
“The academic part has changed, but it’s still a superior education, and the religious aspect means a lot,” he said. ••
Tom Waring can be reached at 215–354–3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org