New director appointed for Pope John Paul II Academy

DORCHESTER -- Russ Wilson, former principal of Blessed Sacrament School in Walpole, has been appointed as regional director for Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy, the academy’s Board of Trustees announced Wednesday. He succeeds Mary Russo, who left the school to pursue doctoral studies in education at Boston College.

“Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy has established itself as a model in Catholic education bringing the best tools and most thoughtful leadership to serving the students and communities of Dorchester and Mattapan,” Wilson said. “Our students deserve no less and I look forward to working with parents, community leaders, local parishes and our committed Board of Trustees to insure academic achievement and a strong Catholic faith foundation so all students at Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy can develop into the best citizens and leaders for the future.”

Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill, Secretary for Education/Superintendent for Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Boston said, “His dedication to Catholic Schools is exemplified in his achievements at Blessed Sacrament School. Their test scores across all grades increased yearly, new and exciting extracurricular activities were introduced and students learned the value of service by virtue of the incredible examples set by teachers who traveled the world to help those in need. Beyond his excellent work at Blessed Sacrament, Russ has been active across the Archdiocese designing and leading professional development programs, serving as a mentor to new principals, and helping to select new assessment systems for all elementary schools.”

O’Neill also thanked Sister Gail Donahue, CSJ for serving as interim director.

Wilson graduated from Fordham University in 1986 and earned a masters in teaching from Emmanuel College in 2000. He is currently enrolled in the Masters of Science/Administrative Leadership program at Boston College.

At Blessed Sacrament, which serves 465 PreK-8 students, Wilson spearheaded a three-year facility improvement campaign with renovations to the gymnasium, science and technology labs, and library, initiated an advancement office and annual fund, and implemented extracurricular activities such as chess, robotics, and public speaking clubs. He also took four teachers to West Africa to refurbish a debilitating school.

From 1997 to 2000, at Holy Name Parish School in West Roxbury, Wilson served as the art and public speaking teacher before being named assistant principal. He previously worked as a director of human resources in the hotel industry.

Following a strategic plan to revitalize archdiocesan Catholic education, Pope John Paul II opened in September 2008 from the consolidation of five parish schools in Dorchester and Mattapan. The regional academy serves students in Pre-K through Grade 8 on five campuses. Financial support for the curricular and building improvements at the academy was provided by the Campaign for Catholic Schools.