MERRILLVILLE | Andrean High School didn't have to go far to find a new principal.
The appointment of Benjamin Potts, currently principal at Notre Dame Catholic School in Michigan City, was announced this week on the Andrean website.
"Mr. Potts brings a stellar background in Catholic school's management and research to the position," Andrean President Harry Vande Velde said in a statement.
"It is clear and evident to all that Ben models the behavior and embodies the spirit of a 21st century Catholic school administration. We are thrilled to have him join our team."
Potts, 29, replaces Mary Beth Ginalski, who was placed on leave in March. At that time, Vande Veld sent a letter to parents saying, "During the leave, the responsibilities of the school will initially be handled by the management team. If it is determined that a temporary principal needs to be appointed, we will notify you of this decision immediately."
Vande Velde said Potts was one of five applicants considered by the school's executive committee and one of two interviewed. Potts then met with the school's Board of Specified Jurisdiction, the deans and the administrative team before his nomination was submitted to Bishop Dale Melczek for final approval by the board, Vande Velde and Superintendent Barbara O'Block.
Potts has been at Notre Dame Catholic School for almost four years. He received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Chicago before getting a master's in education policy and management from Harvard University.
In July he will receive a master's in educational administration from the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program at Notre Dame University.
Potts is a Valparaiso native, attending attended St. Paul School and Valparaiso High School, where he played football on the state runner-up team that included former Notre Dame standout and current Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Potts still lives in Valparaiso, but said he might consider moving closer to his new job.
He sought the Andrean job partly because of what he called "the size, the scale and the traditions" of the school adding, "There's nowhere around like Andrean, and I wanted to be part of that and contribute to that."
Andrean is about three times the size of his current school's 218-student enrollment in preschool through the eighth grade. He said his first task will be to study as much of the data on Andrean as possible to understand the culture and what the specific needs of the students are to see how best to meet those needs.
The second goal will be to see how best to integrate the faith and how to make that more alive in students' lives.
"Part of that is seeing how we can develop the gifts of each student to the best of their potential," Potts said. "My general philosophy is developing in each young person the unique image and likeness of God in which he or she was created within the context of the community of the church and the body of Christ."
In light of the unexpected departure of Ginalski, Potts said also plans to work on bringing the community together and facilitate the healing to create a learning atmosphere that is best for students.