The principal of Paul VI eager to advance the mission of the Church

Philip J. Gianfortune, new principal of Paul VI Secondary School in Haddonfield, says building trusting relationships with students and staff is essential. (Dave Hernández)

HADDONFIELD – Settling into his new office at Paul VI, Philip J. Gianfortune is thrilled to be back in high school.

“I’ve always loved teaching in a high school; that’s where I started my career,” said the new principal of Paul VI. “I always felt a good connection with the students.”

A graduate of Camden Catholic High School, Cherry Hill, Gianfortune holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Rowan University, Glassboro, and a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He served in Catholic education for 18 years, first as a music teacher at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School, Pennsauken, with time spent as the school’s academic dean and later principal. From 2019 to 2022 he served as Principal of Saint Michael the Archangel Regional School in Clayton.

Catholic schools, he said, “are the only place where I can unite my love of faith and education; I always felt at home [here].”

Such sentiments were encouraged by his parents, Debbie and Joe, who worked at Camden Catholic while he was growing up; his mother was in accounts receivable and his father was a music manager. Gianfortune said he looks forward to continuing this family tradition with the Paul VI community.

“This school has a long track record of excellence,” he said, explaining that “it’s a wonderful opportunity” to work with the school’s president, Michael Chambers, and his board of trustees. .

“I am delighted to share the mission of the Church as an evangelist and to be able [work] with my colleagues in youth training,” he said.

Since arriving on July 1, Gianfortune said he has enjoyed interacting with administrators, teachers and students who have spent their summer participating in enrichment classes, pre-season sports training or prepare for the upcoming school year.

He said his freshman plan would involve communicating with and being visible to the school community, which includes getting to know faculty and students, and finding ways to help both groups succeed and to thrive.

“Being with students is always something I cherish,” he said. “When I was a teacher, I knew that if I was a champion for my students, they would know I cared about them. I will do the same for my faculty. I look forward to forging those trusting relationships.

Looking at a crucifix on the wall behind his desk, Gianfortune said he was ready to contribute to the Catholic identity of Lycée Paul VI.

“You would know it’s a Catholic school by the way people treat each other. The love of Christ attracts people [here],” he said. “When you have that care and that love for each other, and the students know that they are loved by God and by the people in that building, that makes it a place where you really want to be.”

Charles K. Eckert