Kindergartener Sophia Bertozzi presents Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Rosemaron Rynn, principal of Little Flower School in Bethesda, with flowers during a party at the school on Jan. 8. She was honored for being named the archdiocese's Principal of the Year for 2009-2010. She was also one of 12 principals nationwide to receive the Distinguished Principal of the Year Award from the National Catholic Educational Association.
Kindergartener Sophia Bertozzi presents Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Rosemaron Rynn, principal of Little Flower School in Bethesda, with flowers during a party at the school on Jan. 8. She was honored for being named the archdiocese's Principal of the Year for 2009-2010. She was also one of 12 principals nationwide to receive the Distinguished Principal of the Year Award from the National Catholic Educational Association.
Sister Rosemaron Rynn, principal of Little Flower School in Bethesda for the past 16 years, doesn't like a lot of fanfare or surprises.

But the humble sister had no choice, when the school's faculty, students and parents threw her a surprise party on Jan. 8 for being named the Archdiocese of Washington's Distinguished Principal of the Year for 2009-10 and winning the national Distinguished Principal of the Year Award from the National Catholic Educational Association.

The principal, a member of the Sisters Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Scranton, Pa., wore a look of shock after walking into a gymnasium full of cheering fans. The teachers were equally shocked because they had actually been able to pull the party off without the omniscient principal finding out.

Sister Rosemaron jokingly told the crowd, "It may have been suggested that I'm a distinguished principal, but people would question this because I didn't know this was going on."

She is one of 12 regional winners to receive the NCEA's leadership award. She will be honored in April at the NCEA's annual conference in Minneapolis.

Students celebrated her accomplishments during the surprise party with various songs and dances. Pre-kindergarteners sang, "Oh how we love sister, because she is the best," and kindergartners sang "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine." The eighth grade made sister's name an acronym and described her personality. The "n" in Rosemaron was for "not putting up with any funny business." The principal held a tissue in her hands as she watched the students perform. They also presented her with a banner detailing her accomplishments, and a new desk chair.

Msgr. Peter Vaghi, Little Flower's pastor, blessed a new teacher's lounge and dedicated it to Sister Rosemaron.

She said after the surprise party, "I'm totally grateful, I'm totally embarrassed. God just blessed me. He dropped me in the right place." She added that no one can do everything and that God has placed "me with wonderful, wonderful people (at Little Flower)."

Sister Rosemaron has been a teacher for 12 years and a principal for 35 years. In the Archdiocese of Washington she was a teacher at Archbishop Neale School in La Plata for three years and the principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Clinton for six years. In 2008, Little Flower School was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence under the leadership of Sister Rosemaron.

Sister Kathleen Lannak, also a Sister Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the longtime principal of St. John the Evangelist School in Silver Spring, said in a nomination letter for Sister Rosemaron to the NCEA that being in the top 10 percent of the nation on standardized test scores in math and reading is "just one of the challenges of being nominated as a Blue Ribbon school."

Sister Lannak added that Sister Rosemaron is a lifetime learner and she encourages her teachers to be open to new technology. In her spare time, Sister Rosemaron enjoys using the computer.
Msgr. Vaghi said although he is Sister Rosemaron's pastor, he is also like her pupil because, "I've had the opportunity to learn so much about the education of our children ... I'm terribly fortunate to have this opportunity."

Patricia Weitzel-O'Neill, the archdiocesan superintendent of Catholic Schools, in a nomination letter to the NCEA about Sister Rosemaron said the principal is "a steady presence to those that experience her leadership."

Maryanne Hellender, a fourth grade teacher and the director of aftercare at Little Flower, said in her nomination letter that "the wonderful reputation that our school enjoys in the archdiocese and the community, in large part, is due to her tireless efforts on behalf of our school," she said.