Carl Patton named next principal of The John Carroll School in Bel Air

David Anderson, The Aegis, Bel Air, Md.
·4 min read

Mar. 2—Carl Patton, who has more than 30 years of experience in education, has been named the next principal and chief academic officer of The John Carroll School in Bel Air. He is scheduled to start July 1, school officials announced.

Patton, 53, of Chevy Chase, is the current principal of Bishop O'Connell Catholic High School in Arlington, Virginia. He has led the co-educational high school, which has 1,200 students, since 2013. John Carroll, also a private co-ed Catholic high school, has 685 students for the current academic year, according to the school website.

Patton will succeed current John Carroll principal Tom Durkin, who has been in his position since 2017; Durkin announced in November that he plans to retire, according to a news release.

"Carl's experience, accomplishments and passion for Catholic education made him the unanimous choice for the position," John Carroll President Steven DiBiagio said in a statement.

John Carroll worked with a search committee to find its next principal. That committee took input from alumni, faculty, parents and staff into account as members developed their selection criteria and profile of who the school's next leader should be, according to the news release.

"He is an experienced and innovative leader, and a champion of Catholic education who is aligned with John Carroll's mission, vision and values," DiBiagio continued. "We are blessed and fortunate to bring someone with his expertise and commitment to our school community."

As principal of Bishop O'Connell, Patton has worked to increase enrollment as well as other "highly successful initiatives," such as welcoming new families to the school through the First Moment Initiative, expanding a "services inclusion model" to support students with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, and a program for staff professional development that has been recognized nationally.

"He has presented on these and other topics at national conferences for Catholic educators as well as at universities around the country," according to the John Carroll news release.

During his career, Patton has been a classroom teacher, middle and high school athletics coach, department head and held leadership roles in Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries, Virginia, and St. Mark the Evangelist School in Hyattsville. He also has served as an instructor and dean of students for the Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University.

Patton earned a bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, College Park, a master's from Trinity University in Washington, D.C., and is working on a doctorate in education leadership and innovation from University of Southern Mississippi.

He said in a statement that John Carroll's "pervasive sense of inclusion and community, which lies at the heart of what the school is known for, is tremendously attractive for learners and educators alike."

Patton, in an interview Tuesday, also praised the school's "tremendous leadership structure" and ongoing initiatives, such as expanding the curriculum to offer courses designed to prepare students for college and careers, and updating campus facilities so they can be used "as a part of the education process."

"As a longtime administrator, I think I have a lot to bring to the table, to help bring that vision to fruition and add to what is already happening at the school," he said.

Patton also brings to John Carroll his experience of leading a school during the COVID-19 pandemic; Bishop O'Connell High School is currently on a hybrid schedule with half of the student body learning in person two days a week and the other half in the next two days — Mondays are virtual for all students.

John Carroll also is on a hybrid schedule, with Fridays dedicated to "asynchronous distance learning," according to the school website.

Patton, who stressed that he has "a great team around me" at his current school, noted the lessons that can be applied moving forward, such as how schools can better engage with their students and families, how curriculum is presented to students and how they receive it, plus the need to care for students' social and emotional well being.

While caring for students' emotional needs has always been important for school administrators, the pandemic "has really forced us to take a closer look at how we're stressing that importance," he said.

"Their social interactions are such an important piece of their growth and development," Patton said.

Patton was scheduled to travel to John Carroll on Tuesday to meet with faculty and staff, with whom he said he is excited "to start a working relationship."

"It's a tremendous school," he said. "I'm thrilled to become a part of it, and I can't imagine a better opportunity."

Patton is married with two children; one is in college and the other in eighth grade. He and his wife plan to move to Harford County.

"It's a great school in a wonderful community," he said of John Carroll. "I think Bel Air is a great town with a great quality of life, with a pace of life that is conducive to what my wife and I want to be a part of."