By Jeff Miller
Special to The Texas Catholic
Mary Beth Marchiony’s five-year tenure at Bishop Dunne Catholic School will end in June with the veteran educator’s retirement. It began with a lengthy to-do list and will conclude in much the same frenetic manner.
Marchiony came to Bishop Dunne as interim principal in August 2018 only weeks after the resignation of Douglas Wine. Within days of her arrival, a second title was added to Marchiony’s nameplate when longtime school president Kate Dailey left.
On May 27, Marchiony watched 75 seniors graduate. Her primary remaining task will be making sure the school is prepared for the accreditation review scheduled for this fall. And there are also four vacancies to fill.
Much of the time in between her arrival and departure was dominated by matters related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s been a crazy tenure,” said Marchiony, 65. “Because of being thrust into the dual role, but the bigger thing obviously was COVID. Half the students were here, and half the students were online.”
Marchiony looked out her office window and recalled a conversation that took place just outside the school — because of health protocols — in which a mother expressed concern about certain restrictions implemented during the height of the pandemic.
“I literally felt the responsibility for 500 people’s lives and their extended families,” she said.
Marchiony came to Bishop Dunne from Kansas in 2018 to be close to son Donald and his family in Plano, where they attend Prince of Peace. The desire to spend more time with them plus with extended family on the East Coast convinced her it was time to retire. Husband Jim, who worked in college athletics administration, retired three years ago.
Marchiony said there’s never an easy time to leave a school. Especially after she developed closer relationships with some students by teaching some religion, history and English classes in recent years and also filling some in as a college guidance contact.
“I’ve really engaged with these kids and their families,” she said.
Steve Guerrero, assistant principal and longtime Dunne faculty member, will step into the principal’s role on July 1. The school board hopes to name a new president about that same time.
When Marchiony arrived on the Oak Cliff campus, she stated the two-pronged goal of “getting kids to Heaven and getting kids to college.” She said she’s pleased with how the ensuing years played out.
“One of my main messages (meeting with incoming students and their families) is I hope while you’re here at Bishop Dunne you develop a faith that’s your own,” Marchiony said, noting that half the 400-plus students in grades 6-12 aren’t Catholic. “As parents, we pour faith into our children. And as educators, we pour faith into our children. But they leave us, and they go off to parts unknown for college. So in their time here, they really need to know what their faith is. They need to know what they believe and why they believe it. So that when they get to college or some point in life and they hit that bump in the road, they have a faith that will sustain them.”