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An interest that was sparked while he was in his early teens served as the inspiration that led Louis De Angelo to dedicate his professional life to education.
“History excited me in eighth grade,” explained De Angelo. “Then a high school teacher I had recognized that and built on it. I was always inspired by good teachers, both in elementary school and in high school. I admired them.”
That admiration led De Angelo to Philadelphia’s La Salle College, where he earned a B.A. in Secondary Social Studies, and on to Temple University, where he studied for an M.Ed. in the Psychology of Reading. He graduated from Immaculata University in 2003 with an Ed.D. in educational leadership, a program he said appealed to him because it offered the chance to learn among “those doing the same type of work I was doing.” He credited Sister Anne Marie Burton, IHM, Ed.D., and Sister Jane Anne Molinaro, IHM, Ph.D., for their efforts, and said what he liked about Immaculata was “the personalization of the program, and the relationships I was able to build with other professionals. It was an encouraging experience.”
Fast forward to November 2012, and De Angelo’s appointment to the title of superintendent of schools for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, DE.
He explained his diocese is one of only two in the U.S. that crosses two states. “The Catholic Diocese of Wilmington (CDOW) encompasses not only Delaware,” he said, “but also the eastern shore of Maryland. In some ways that makes this a really interesting diocese in which to serve, as we have the chance to work with people in both states.”
The Philadelphia native who now resides in Havertown, PA, is no stranger to Wilmington, having served that diocese as its associate superintendent beginning in 2007. After entering his career in academia as a sixth grade teacher at Philadelphia’s St. Nicholas of Tolentine School, he headed across town to teach at Resurrection of Our Lord. His advancement into administration came with his appointment as principal at St. Callistus School, Philadelphia, followed by St. Anastasia School in Newtown Square, PA.
Over the years, De Angelo has garnered honors ranging from “Man of the Year” and “Distinguished Principal” to being named recipient of a “Catholic Gentleman Award.”
You’d have to read through his resume to learn any of this, though, because when asked to talk about himself, De Angelo pauses, then quickly turns the conversation back to sharing how important he thinks it is for children to get a quality education.
Regarding his day-to-day role as superintendent, De Angelo said, “The most significant of my duties are the interactions that make a difference in the lives of kids. Whether I’m talking with a principal, looking at curriculum or working with a publisher regarding textbooks, all of my responsibilities have the focus on children at their center.”
When speaking about innovations being undertaken in the Wilmington Diocesan schools, De Angelo mentioned something about which he is particularly excited.
“It’s our international education program,” he said, and explained there are currently 40 students enrolled. “They stay with host families, and we hope to continue to build on this program so that our students can benefit from learning with them, and they can benefit from our students.” De Angelo said current pupils are from China, South America and Eastern Europe. He noted he would like to see the program expand and send some of the American students abroad to study.
In addition to overseeing the 33 Catholic schools attended by more than 11,000 students within the Wilmington Diocese, De Angelo is an adjunct professor at Neumann University in Aston, PA, a post he has also held at both Chestnut Hill College and St. Joseph’s University.
He is active in a variety of school-related, professional and community service organizations, and takes part in leadership seminars for principals, faculty workshops and retreats, and parent presentations. He has made keynote speeches and facilitated school re-accreditation processes as close to home as Allentown, PA, and as far away as Baton Rouge, LA, and Savannah, GA.
But no matter where he goes or what he is doing, De Angelo’s focus remains on children.
“One of the things I like best about my current position,” he said, “is that I have the opportunity to work with a host of wonderful people who are all committed to the same mission I am, the Catholic education of our young people. We are leading the next generation.”
And the teachers who inspired him all those years ago?
“Some of them are still in my life,” De Angelo said, “all these years later.”