The Diocese of Orange welcomes seven highly experienced educators to lead Catholic elementary school communities in Costa Mesa, Dana Point, La Habra, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, and Santa Ana.
Lisa Gilbert comes to St. Joachim School in Costa Mesa from the Diocese of San Diego. Gilbert has been a Catholic school educator for seventeen years combined, starting as a teacher and later Catholic school administrator. In her final year at St. Mary’s School in San Diego, Gilbert directed the Blended Learning Initiative in the middle school grades, which became the program model for the Diocese of San Diego.
Gilbert received her bachelors in Diversified Liberal Arts from University of San Diego, her Masters in Art in Marriage and Family Therapy from U.S. International University, San Diego, and her Master’s in Education in Leadership and Administration from Pepperdine University Los Angeles.
As the new principal of St. Joachim Catholic School following Sister Kathleen Marie Pughe’s retirement, Gilbert’s vision is “to create a positive, inclusive school culture where all students thrive personally and academically, while growing closer to God every day.”
Tom Waszak, a veteran Catholic school educational leader, is chosen to lead The Parish School at St. Edward following Dr. Catherine Muzzy’s retirement. Waszak has been a Catholic school educator for more than 40 years. He spent twenty three years at Loyola High School as a teacher, administrator, director, and coach. He was then recruited to become the founding principal of JSerra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano where he served for eight years, building the school from thirty students to over a thousand. For the past eight years, Waszak served at St. Francis of Assisi in Yorba Linda as principal and president. Waszak holds a Master’s in School Administration and a Bachelor’s in biology from Loyola Marymount University.
Melissa Geary has been a part of the St. Columban Catholic School community in Garden Grove since 2012. At. St. Columban School, Geary has served as a teacher, a learning support coordinator, an interim principal. Geary earned her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of San Francisco, her Master of Science and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Dominican University of California, and an Autism Spectrum Disorders Added Authorization from Brandman University. As the new principal of St. Columban School, Geary hopes “to inspire [her] school and help [her] school community grow…to make the school the best place for students to grow academically and spiritually.”
Stella Costello comes to lead Our Lady of Guadalupe School in La Habra after being an educator in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for fourteen years where taught in the primary grades, junior high, as well as at the college level. Costello earned her Bachelor of Science from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and her Masters of Arts in Elementary Education from Loyola Marymount University. She has served in Catholic schools as a teacher, a vice principal, a principal at Sts. Felicitas and Perpetua in San Marino. She also served as the Leadership Chair for her previous deanery. Costello’s hope is “to support the mission of growing our Catholic Church by ministering and modeling Christ’s love to our youngest of learners.”
Elizabeth Gosnell joins the Diocese of Orange to lead Our Lady of Fatima Academy in San Clemente. Gosnell is an experienced instructional and administrative leader, having served as a school administrator for over a decade in the public school districts. She worked with teachers and programs that successfully enhanced student learning experiences. She looks forward “to build a larger school community that strengthen the Catholic identity in children of San Clemente [and] through this create a stronger parish and faith community.”
Gosnell received her B.A. in Psychology and Communications and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Learning from the University of San Diego, an administrative services credential, and a bilingual cross-cultural language development teaching credential in Spanish.
RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA
Julie Radzai has been an educator at St. Junipero Serra School for the past 14 years. Radzai will be serving as upper school principal, overseeing grades five to eight this year. Prior to being a principal, Radzai taught middle school math and science and held various leadership positions in school administration. Most recently, she served as an assistant principal, mentoring, and improving individual and collective capacity of 25 teachers under her leadership. Radzai looks forward to continue strengthening the Serra community of parents, students, teachers, and staff. Radzai earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from California State University, Fullerton, and her Master of Arts in Catholic School Administration from Loyola Marymount University. Radzai holds valid teaching and administrative services credential in California.
Kelly Botto is leading St. Joseph School in Santa Ana. A graduate of Rosary Academy, Botto earned her Bachelors of Arts in Global Studies from St. Mary’s University in Winona, MN, her single subject credential and her Master’s in Education from Concordia University in Irvine. Botto is active in Catholic faith communities in Southern California. Most recently, she served as assistant principal, middle school teacher, and technology coordinator at St. Anne School in Santa Ana. “My main hope for this year is to develop a relationship with the students, staff, parents, and supporters of St. Joseph since I am new to the school. It’s from these relationships that I hope to grow the school and support the mission of the Diocese,” said Botto.