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Sister Mary Carol Gregory began to walk the halls of Notre Dame Academy as a teacher about 35 years ago at the organization's then recently-constructed building at Monroe Street and Secor Road.
After the last 20 years as the academy's principal, Sister Carol is stepping away, in part, to continue to walk those halls “and become more involved with the girls” and with their families.
Although Sister Carol will no longer be principal, she will remain president of the academy and among other things, oversee its continued development.
Her connection with the school began even earlier, as a student when its large stone walls dominated the intersection of Monroe and Bancroft streets.
She graduated in 1958 from the school she now calls, “the original,” Notre Dame Academy.
During her years there, she felt that she had been called to a religious vocation and entered into the community of the Sisters of Notre Dame.
She received a bachelor's degree from the former Mary Manse College and later a master's degree from Ball State University.
Her dual role as principal and president have been rewarding, but the complexities of running a large academy in both positions have also been time consuming.
“It's time for someone to give a newness and it's good to get new ideas,” from whomever replaces her as principal, Sister Carol said.
“It will be good for Notre Dame,” she said.
Eileen Granata,. chairman of the school's advisory committee, said the change has been under discussion for some time,.
“Both are substantial roles, and frankly, Sister Carol has done an incredible job,'' she said.
The job of principal is to be the educational leader of the school on a day-to-day basis.
The president, as the job has been recently defined, will be the overseer of the academy's buildings and maintenance, its finances, personnel, fund-raising, “and implementation of a strategic plan to secure the future of Notre Dame Academy.”
Sister Carol said the tuition charged to students at Notre Dame Academy does not cover the expense of their education, but that other sources must be used, not only for the school to continue, but to offer opportunities to teachers and staff to advance through training.
When talking about the business of running a private school, Sister Carol has a business demeanor, but when she talks about the pupils there is something almost impish in her eyes.
“It's a very special and unique privilege to minister to the young women,” she said.
“We are part of a very important phase in their development. I have seen some of them begin school here, seen them graduate, and then been their for the graduation of their daughters.”
When she was a Notre Dame student, there were less pressures and temptations than those that students face today, Sister Carol said.
“The entire culture has changed,” she said. “I think there sometimes is too much money. There is too much that is materialistic in our culture.”
Sister Carol added that there seem to be fewer role models than when she was a student. “You see people in high positions who are not living lives of integrity,'' she said.
Although the pressures on young people may be greater, running a private school has the advantage of most students coming from families who value education, she said.
“We know the parents have to make sacrifices for their daughters to come here and we consider it a grave responsibility,” she said.
Sister Carol said she will continue as principal and president through this school year, although there is a target of April for her successor as principal to be named.