The new director of the Geneva school delighted to help the students grow

Suzanne Pohorence is the new director of St. Francis-St. Stephen School in Geneva. (Photo by Glenn Gaston)

The first day of the 2022-23 school year will be a little different for Suzanne Pohorence.

Instead of returning to class at St. Mary’s School in Canandaiguawhere she taught for 16 years, she will instead enter Geneva St. Francis-St. Stephen School and head to the principal’s office.

“It’s like coming home,” Pohorence said of her new job as principal at St. Francis-St. Stephen, which serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Although Pohorence is new to her job, she is no stranger to Geneva. She graduated in 2002 from the former DeSales High School in Geneva, located across from St. Francis-St. Stephen School.

“There are so many families (from St. Francis-St. Stephen School) who remember me because many of my classmates (from high school) send students to St. Francis-St. Stephen, so that’s kind of nice,” she noted.

Teach and grow

After graduating from DeSales, Pohorence attended Nazareth College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in math and early childhood education in 2006. After Nazareth, she returned to her elementary school alma mater, St. Mary’s, as a second grade teacher. More recently, Pohorence, a parishioner from St. Benedict Parish in Canandaigua, taught seventh and eighth grade math.

“I really worked with a great team of teachers. We really helped St. Mary’s grow,” Pohorence said of her time at the school.

While at St. Mary’s School, Pohorence was chosen as the 2017 Trustey Family STEM Teaching Fellow and traveled to South Bend, Indiana, for three summers to take classes at the Center for Education. STEM from Notre Dame University.

The time had come for change

In 2018, Pohorence earned her certification in Educational Administration from the University of Rochester. Despite earning this certification, Pohorence said she continues to say no to every major opening available. That is until this year, when the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, James Tauzel, contacted her.

“He was just like, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a few more openings that you might be interested in. Why don’t you apply for them?'” Pohorence recalled, noting that at the time she didn’t even know the work at St. Francis-St. Stephen was on the opening list.

Although she was happy at St. Mary’s School, Pohorence decided to try some interviews. When the St. Francis-St. Stephen’s job came up, she thought about it and knew she should apply.

“It was just fine. Like before, every time I prayed over it (to know if I should apply for a new position) it was really scary, but this time it wasn’t,” she said.

A warm welcome

Pohorence began his new role at St. Francis-St. Stephen School on August 1 and had the opportunity to meet and speak with some of the families and school staff.

“Everyone is very supportive, whether it’s grandparents, community members, people who went to DeSales High School or St. Francis-St. Stephane,” she said. “I got so many phone calls from people saying, ‘Hi, you’re new, but I want you to know who I am.'”

keep a tradition

When Pohorence began her teaching career, she said she sought Catholic teaching positions to maintain the Catholic school tradition.

“It (the Catholic faith) is important to my family,” she said, noting that her three brothers also attend Catholic elementary and secondary schools.

But now, Pohorence also sees the value and importance of Catholic education for families today.

“As I was teaching, I saw how important it was for school choice and for these families and for bringing faith to our families now,” she said. “Students need a small, nurturing, family-oriented environment. What I have noticed is that students come (to school) without this strong foundation of faith, but as they get older they really embrace it (faith).

Although Pohorence said she will miss teaching, she looks forward to helping students grow in her new role as principal.

“It’s time for me to help nurture teachers, families and students,” Pohorence said. “As a teacher, I had a small population (of students) that I could work with. Now I have a larger population that I can work with.

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