Colette Weber enjoyed her career at George School, serving as a teacher and administrator at the private Quaker high school in Newtown, Bucks County.
“I loved George School,” she said. “I was there 23 years. They helped me grow up.”
Weber, though, began looking at other options.
“I was ready for a new challenge,” she said. “I wanted to broaden my experience.”
Specifically, she wanted a leadership role at an urban school.
Little Flower High School proved to be the perfect match, as she was named principal, replacing Sister Kathleen Klarich, who retired after 25 years.
Weber, 47, started on July 1.
“People have been welcoming,” she said. “I’m really glad I came here. It’s a great challenge. I’m so hopeful for the school year.”
A native of England, she applied for a job at Little Flower soon after moving to the United States in 1997.
“I couldn’t get my foot in the door,” she said.
Weber reapplied once she heard Sister Kathleen was leaving.
“I raced to get my resume out,” she said.
In England, Weber attended Loreto Convent Grammar School, an all-girls school for grades 7-12.
Weber and her husband, David, an Archbishop Wood graduate, have two sons. They live in Elkins Park and are members of St. Luke Parish in Glenside.
Since arriving at LF, she’s met with student government, the environmental club and the African American Culture Club, taught a summer-readiness class for freshmen, worked with seniors on the college application process, planned a Seeking Socrates academic offering and thought about all things COVID-19.
“I have been very busy, meeting after meeting,” she said.
Seniors report on Sept. 9, followed by juniors the next day and sophomores the day after that. Freshmen arrive on Sept. 14. Archdiocese high school teachers, negotiating a new contract, could strike, but schools would remain open.
Weber, who was head of the English department at George School, said she’s been told that LF teachers did a good job teaching virtually from mid-March to the end of last school year. She knows she has big shoes to fill, and said Sister Kathleen was helpful in the transition.
This year, the archdiocese is implementing a hybrid instruction model. At Little Flower, students will be divided in Group A and Group B. They will attend classes in person three days one week and two days the next. On days they are not in class, they will learn online, with cameras in the classroom. That system could be in place through June.
The school day will go from 8 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. School vans will make more trips so the girls can be spaced safely. Students and staff will have their temperature taken as they enter school, and must wear masks. There will be four entrances, rather than one.
Masks or visors are to be worn in classrooms, and teachers will have a Plexiglas partition on their desks. Students will use an antibacterial wipe to clean their desks at the end of class.
Students will walk in the same direction in the hallways and up and down the stairwells. There will be hand sanitizer, along with heavy-duty fans and open windows to get air flowing. Bathrooms will have no-touch faucets, and door handles will be wiped repeatedly throughout the school. Water fountains have been replaced with water filling stations.
Lunch will be eaten in the cafeteria, with the girls at a safe distance from one another. On nice days, outdoor tables will be set up.
Safety preparation has been ongoing during the summer.
“We’ve never been so clean in all our lives,” Weber said.
Weber is a fan of the hybrid model.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “It’s the safest way to do it. It’s the best way to deliver the best possible academic experience. Socially and emotionally, the kids need each other.”
Little Flower has a freshman class of 119 and an overall enrollment of more than 450. About 25 girls have opted to learn exclusively online. No teachers have taken leave.
Weber said she and the coaches hoped the archdiocese would have allowed sports to be played, but fall sports have been postponed. All girls will be welcome to practice with a team.
The music program and extracurricular activities will continue.
“We’re trying to do as much as we possibly can,” Weber said. ••