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PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (June 23, 2020) – Pittsburgh high school Nazareth Prep has named Rita Canton as its new executive director and head of school. Canton brings more than 20 years of teaching and school leadership experience to her new role at the helm of the college and career preparatory school.
Nazareth Prep is an independent Catholic high school dedicated to providing an affordable, progressive education to students of all backgrounds. Through a rigorous yet personalized preparatory program and unique internship experience, Nazareth Prep prepares students for college and the workplace and empowers them as designers of the future.
Canton joins Nazareth Prep following four years as principal and head of school at Vincentian Academy, a distinguished Catholic high school in Pittsburgh. Prior to her tenure there, Canton served for six years as the principal at Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy, a parochial school in Wilkinsburg, Pa., that she helped to open in 2010. Canton’s high standards enabled Sister Thea Bowman Catholic Academy to become a model school for the nation.
“Rita has a track record of promoting excellence,” says Sister Linda Yankoski, president and CEO. “She joins Nazareth Prep during a year that has been uncertain and challenging for all educational institutions, and we can think of no one better to tackle these challenges and steer the school along a continued path of exceptional education.”
In addition to her experience as a school leader, Canton also has 15 years of elementary and secondary teaching experience. She worked for nine years as a mathematics teacher and campus minister at North Catholic High School, where she helped plan the liturgies, prayers and faculty and student retreats and acted as the liaison between the school and the Diocese Department of Religious Education.
Canton’s educational background includes a master’s degree in science education and secondary mathematics certification from Chatham University, a master of theology degree from Xavier University of Louisiana and a certification in educational administration from the University of Scranton. Her studies in pastoral theology at Xavier University focused on Black spirituality and social justice issues such as ethnic and racial disparities in education, racism, gender equality, classism and poverty in light of faith and the teachings of the Catholic Church.
“I am blessed to join Nazareth Prep, a school whose commitment to social justice and to cultivating the whole student – academically, socially, emotionally and spiritually – aligns with my own,” says Canton. “I look forward to working with the students of Nazareth Prep as they grow into the deeply educated and community-minded leaders of tomorrow.”
About Nazareth Prep: Nazareth Prep is a progressive, independent Catholic high school focused on college and career readiness. The school partners with families and uses evidence-based practices to equip each student for success. Through a real-world rigorous yet personalized college preparatory program and unique internship program, Nazareth Prep students build skills that will serve them throughout their lives.
Let us breathe new life into our world by standing in solidarity against racial injustice.
The U.S. province of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth stands in solidarity with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and all who strongly condemn the police-killing of another black man on the streets of our nation. We pray for and mourn with the family and friends of George Floyd and all who have lost loved ones to racial violence.
Racism is America’s original sin. Our complacency has created today’s American culture of injustice. As American citizens, we have stood by and watched the evils of racism pervade our society without speaking out and demanding substantive action for change. We have failed to acknowledge the destructive role of white privilege. For our sinfulness, we ask the forgiveness of our sisters and brothers of color and of each other.
Our Mother Foundress, Blessed Mary of Jesus the Good Shepherd (Frances Siedliska), wrote in 1901, “Mutual charity should prove itself in action and in practice. The principle that must always guide us is to see God in our neighbor… with no fiber of the heart remaining unpermeated with this supernatural motive of charity.” Inspired by the spirit of our Mother Foundress, we must no longer settle for superficial words that fail to address the deep wounds of the heart of our society. We must, instead, turn to actions and practices that create mutual charity and eliminate racial injustice.
As Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, our mission calls us to create “communities of love and hope which celebrate the oneness of the human family” – the entire human family without regard for race. We do this through faithful listening, recognizing God in the everyday, and fostering loving relationships among ourselves and all families of the world.
In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the countless racially motivated deaths of so many others, we plead with the entire human family to commit to building communities of love and hope
- by listening to God and to one another, especially those who are crying out in desperation for justice;
- by seeking God’s loving presence in each encounter of our daily lives;
- by fostering loving relationships among all races.
Today, we join those who are raising their voices against racism and violence in the U.S. and throughout the world.
We pray for all those harmed by racial injustice, for our country to seek healing, and for our country’s leaders to take positive actions that will put an end to racial inequality on our streets and in our institutions. We also pray, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that we make responsible changes in our homes and in our hearts that touch the world with love, with reverence and acceptance of the other, and with action that will eradicate racial injustice.
LET US SPEAK AND ACT SO THAT THE FAMILY OF GOD BREATHES NEW LIFE INTO OUR WORLD.
(Content was posted originally on the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth’s website.)
At Holy Family Institute we have three values that we ask all board and staff members to embrace when they join the Holy Family “Family:” Faithful Listening, Loving Relationships, and Recognizing God in the everyday.
After seeing the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Officers and the riots that followed, I thought of the words of Martin Luther King, “a riot is the language of the unheard.”
Why can’t we hear? How can we block our ears? How is it that in the face of someone crying out, “I can’t breathe.” “I am going to die.” How is this not heard? How is there is no response?
How sad that these words that Dr. Martin Luther King spoke when he was in Detroit a few weeks before he died are still relevant today,
“…it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? …It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
Our schools are still segregated, our churches are still segregated, immigrants who have lived in this country their entire lives are being deported to countries they’ve never set foot in. For some in the majority there is a “right” way and “wrong” way to protest. I don’t support, condone, or believe in violence of any kind. That is why I abhor guns for any reason, including hunting. But when an act of peaceful protest by taking a knee at a football game by Colin Kaepernick is chastised and he is marginalized – there is definitely something wrong in the hearts and minds of so many of us in the majority.
Now more than ever we must hear. We must faithfully listen to the unheard.
Sister Linda Yankoski, CSFN, EdD
Dear Nazareth Prep Families,
As a Catholic faith community we trust in God to guide us in uncertain times and use the gifts we have been given to meet today’s challenge. We want to provide an update regarding our plans around COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Campus administrators have continued to monitor official updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), and the Diocese of Pittsburgh. The health, safety and well-being of our students, staff and families is a top priority. The situation is filled with ever-changing information, and we are committed to providing regular communications, with prompt updates, regarding important information for how we will manage the education of your children. In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and with the guidance of the governor’s office, Nazareth Prep will be implementing Flexible Instruction Days from March 16 until March 30, 2020.
What does this mean?
Students will be required to use their chromebook to login to access instructional materials prepared by our teachers. Students will need to verify attendance by accessing the attendance form that will be sent to them each morning. This will need to be done by 9:00 am via their email each morning. Students who do not sign in will be marked as absent. Assignments given will be accessible online via Powerschool Unified Classroom or similar platform. Assignments will have a due date and this will be followed to hold students accountable for assignments and grades. Teachers will have office hours during the day to help accommodate any students who have questions about assignments.
All extra-curricular activities (including athletics) and all events at Nazareth Prep will be suspended, canceled or postponed beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, March 13, 2020 through, tentatively, Monday, March 30, 2020. We will notify all stakeholders when sponsored events and activities are rescheduled.
We are taking this action to protect our communities from the spread of the coronavirus. As we continue to monitor and take guidance from federal, state, and local agencies, our recommendations will evolve to best serve you.
We will send updates as information becomes available. Please also check this link to the coronavirus (COVID-19) page on the diocesan website: https://diopitt.org/coronavirus-safety-precautions
If you have any technology issues, please contact our IT Director Jenny McGrail- firstname.lastname@example.org
If your family is experiencing any hardships due to the pandemic, please reach out to our school counselor Emma Pellicanoemail@example.com
As always, please contact us if you have any questions. Our prayers go out to all those around the world and here at home confronted by this virus.
Last Tuesday, Sakiya and Xavier, both ninth graders at Nazareth Prep and recipients of the Art Rooney Memorial Scholarship, presented a painting to Ryan Shazier, the 2018 Ed Block Courage Award recipient. The painting was a collaborative piece created by Nazareth Prep students and their Art Teacher, Amy Dimichele. The annual Courage House Luncheon is a fundraiser held in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the support of Art and Greta Rooney. Shazier was selected by his teammates for the award that was given during the 26th annual Courage House Luncheon at Heinz Field.
During his remarks, Mr. Shazier said, “Less than one percent of people make the NFL, less than one percent of people make the Pro Bowl, less than one percent of people make All-Pro, and I was so grateful to make all these things, so when I got the opportunity and only 20 percent of people walk, I was like, ‘Hey, you don’t know who you’re talking to.'”
The Steelers and Holy Family Institute co-sponsor the event, with proceeds from the event benefiting Nazareth Prep.