From STEM to Steelers, new Rosarian head of school embraces her job

April 23, 2019
Palm Beach Daily News


As she wraps up her first year as head of school at Rosarian Academy, one could understand if Linda Trethewey decided to kick back a bit, take a deep breath, perhaps even reflect upon her accomplishments in her first year as the school’s top administrator.

But no, that’s not her style.

Trethewey started as middle school principal at Rosarian in July 2017, following 25 years working in elementary and middle schools in Maryland and Florida. Ten of those years were spent at St. Bonaventure School in Davie, in Broward County. A year after joining Rosarian, she was named head of school after Stephen Rubenacker left to return to the Northeast.

Some school leaders are student-driven, others are process-driven, but Trethewey is a hybrid. She loves the wonky aspects of educational administration and keeps up with what’s hot and what’s not in education. But she also still has a lot of classroom teacher left in her tank. She loves to see students and teachers alike learn and develop.

“My leadership style is sort of in the servant-leader realm,” she said. “I like giving people a chance to lift themselves up and let them grow.”

But in the meantime, if the pre-K students need someone to play the Cat in the Hat, Trethewey is ready to suit up. And when students needed a goal for a reading challenge, Trethewey provided a tempting target. Meet your goal and you can dye my hair, she told them. They hit the target and Trethewey kept her end of the bargain.

“They colored my hair blue,” she said. “It was a memorable experience. It will be remembered.”

Now as the school year winds down, Trethewey says she is still pushing just as hard as on her first day on the job. Maybe harder.

“We have already enhanced our math program K through 6,” she said, “and we’re also moving to a new science curriculum next year.”

Also coming next school year, a gifted and talented program for students in kindergarten through fourth grade that will be coordinated through the Academic Center for Enrichment.

On chilly days, it’s not uncommon to see Trethewey in the school corridors wearing a black-and-gold jacket emblazoned with sports insignias of her favorite sports teams — the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates — and anything else Pittsburgh. She’s an unabashed western Pennsylvania sports fan. Her allegiance to Pittsburgh has paid off for her school, too. Rosarian is the first Florida school selected to participate in the Carnegie Science Center’s STEM Excellence Pathway program.

The program, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, provides guidance to schools on how to best improve its science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. Nearly 5,000 schools in 22 states use the tool.

“This is not some cookie-cutter program where they hand you a syllabus and let you go,” she said. “There are hundreds of thousands of resources available to us through the Carnegie program.”

Early in the year, Rosarian celebrated the opening of the Freitas STEM Innovation Center, which only adds to the classical offerings at the Catholic school, Trethewey said.

“As the world changes, we’re looking at educating the whole student. All our teachers here are adapting STEM principles to what we’re doing. Our tagline for Rosarian is ‘become you.’ We have a highly developed arts program,” she said.

Education has changed and while traditional subjects remain important, a more technically based curriculum has become important, too.

“We are who we are and we know who we are,” she said. “It’s all in understanding who we are. We are founded by Adrian Dominicans and everything we’re doing is intentional. We’re wanting to deepen our relationships.

“If that means doing something a little differently,” she says, “well …”

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