A principal takes her leave

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Danielson - posted Tue., Mar. 22, 2011
Principal Veilleux poses with kids in the cafeteria on St. Patrick's Day. Photos by D. Coffey
Principal Veilleux poses with kids in the cafeteria on St. Patrick's Day. Photos by D. Coffey

St. James Elementary School Principal Cheryl Veilleux ate dessert standing up. She was on lunch duty with her students from the third, fourth and fifth grades. “I try to give the teachers a break,” she said, watching the children. The children were noisy, but they were polite. Parents sacrifice to send their children to the school because they want the Christian values-based education that it offers, Veilleux said. A little girl politely asked her if she could go to the bathroom. Veilleux nodded yes. Discipline is not one of her biggest problems. Finances are.
“They are the biggest challenge,” she said. “Private schools that lack trusts and endowments are constantly working to raise money.” She estimates that she spends about 50 percent of her time on fund-raising, grant writing, and attending fund-raising events. “We’re continually looking at ways to do it better for less,” she said.
As for the curriculum currently in place, Veilleux calls it more academically-focused. “Because you don’t see a lot of issues in the office, I’m able to spend more time on curriculum and the running of the school. We’ve spent a lot of time, money and energy on getting the building up to par, be it software, hardware or smart-boards. We have an art program that’s blossomed,” she said.
Wendi Markley teaches computer science and graphic arts at the school. She has been getting students up to date on the newest software programs that Veilleux was able to get for the school. “She understands what the students need, and she makes it happen,” Markley said. “I’ve had to ask for some large things that I felt the students needed. The computers are big expenses. It’s hard to fund, and she still made it happen.”
Veilleux will retire from St. James in June, after serving as principal for six years. Prior to that, she spent 25 years in the Griswold Public Schools as teacher, vice principal and principal.
“She always wanted to give back,” Fr. John O’Neill, pastor of St. James Church said of her. “She brought that wonderful background with the public schools with her. She’s a real pro.”

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