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Principal aims to be "student-centric"

“An administrator with a teacher’s heart” is how many who know him would describe Edward J. Webber, the new principal of Immaculata High School, Somerville.
Posted on 09/29/2022

"An administrator with a teacher’s heart” is how many who know him would describe Edward J. Webber, the new principal of Immaculata High School, Somerville. If his name rings a bell, it’s likely because his skills and well-established career at the school led him up the ranks, making his name and face familiar to many Catholic educators, parents, alumni, and faithful in the Diocese of Metuchen.

Webber’s name has long reverberated in the hallways of the school, first purposefully called out by the educators who once taught him in the late-1990s when he was a student there, and now affectionately called out by the students he knows by name as he greets them in the hallways each day.

“More than a few [religious] sisters probably raised their eyebrows when they saw my name listed as principal,” he said jokingly, remembering his time with the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who once taught at the school and whom he later taught alongside. “I think in some ways, my whole professional life has led to this moment. The things that I have done in my career have prepared me well to take on this new role here.”

A 1999 graduate of Immaculata High School, Webber went on to receive a degree in education with a concentration in music from Rutgers University and Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2004 and shortly after, returned to his alma mater to serve in the music department. In 2020, he received a master’s degree in school administration from Seton Hall University, where he was in their Catholic school leadership program. From 2005 until his appointment as dean of students in 2019, Webber served as music teacher and band director, spending the latter five years serving as the chair of the music department.

“Immaculata has always been a joyful place to work, but now the culture and climate of the school is in a really good position to move forward with a shared vision,” said Webber, adding it is in part due to the strong team in place to support the fully staffed school. “We have been able to attract and retain good teachers, and staff in a way that adds strength to our school. One of our major strengths this year is our staff, both teaching and non-teaching,” the benefits of which will undoubtedly extend to the students, he said.

While his goals are aligned with those of a Catholic school administrator – building upon the positive momentum of increasing enrollment and shared vision, attracting and retaining good teachers, seeking additional accreditations, expanding the technology infrastructure to keep up with growing demands, and, importantly, remaining authentically Catholic and providing a Catholic education rooted in truth and values – he said his most important goal is to remain student-centric.

“Certainly, we are dealing with budgets and all the other necessities of administration, but the critical piece is that we are student-centric because our students are the mission,” the principal said. “I think one of my skills is working with the students, being able to talk with them, being able to encourage them, academically and socially, so this is what I hope my tenure to center on.”

“If we do not invest in the students, then all of this means nothing,” he said, gesturing to the campus buildings which are home to a new team room, reenvisioned student center, upgraded locker rooms, a new sound system, and solar panel arrays, among several other new physical upgrades.

As the husband to his wife, Genevieve, and the father of four children – Evelyn, 14, a freshman at Immaculata this year; and Myra, 12; Patrick, 10; and Grace, 8, all students at the parish’s pre-k through eighth grade school, Immaculate Conception, located on the same street in Somerville – he said his hopes for Immaculata students “are not unlike a parent’s hopes.”

“I want them to be successful and certainly prepared for college,” he said. “I want them to be successful in what the secular world views as important, but also in what we believe is important – morals, values, Catholic tradition. So, my hope is they walk out of here saying, ‘not only was it fun, not only did I learn a lot, not only did I have a lot of opportunities and experiences, but I also have this foundation – morally, spiritually, and socially – to build out what is next for me in my future.’”