Save your puns; Brian Pope, principal of St. Francis Catholic School, has heard them all.
As soon as he steps through the door of a classroom he’s met by an enthusiastic chorus of fourth graders: “Good morning, Mr. Pope!” He returns the greeting then asks one student, by name, what she’s working on. It’s a class project about the dangers of drugs.
Brian Pope, the new principal of St. Francis by the Sea parish school on Hilton Head, prides himself on knowing all of his students on a first-name basis. “The relationships between teachers and students here is very close,” he tells a visitor, “and creating that special bond is part of our effort to build character as well as guide a child’s spiritual and educational growth.”
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Photo by Russell Greene
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The north island Catholic school, home to 180 students from 4-year-old pre-kindergartners to eighth-grade middle school teens, has been his only professional home since earning a secondary education credential from New York’s Niagara University in 2001. And the 32-year-old Pope, who indeed has heard every religious pun possible about his surname, seems well-suited for a position that puts him in charge of guiding youngsters toward productive futures.