Newly appointed principal, Anna Farone, has the "heart and soul of St. Clement's." (Emily Benson photos)
Newly appointed principal, Anna Farone, has the "heart and soul of St. Clement's." (Emily Benson photos)

Anna Farone strides across the halls of St. Clement’s School in Saratoga Springs. She points out classroom art and shuts off lights left on by accident. It’s the middle of summer and the dark oak hallways are quiet. It’ll be a couple of weeks before they are brimming with activity, filled with the laughter and din of children returning to school. It’s something Farone looks forward to during her first year as principal.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “It can be overwhelming but I know I have a lot of good people who have been here helping.”

After six years as assistant principal of the school, Farone is stepping up to lead St. Clement’s. She follows in the footsteps of her close friend and mentor, Jane E. Kromm, former principal of St. Clement’s for 15 years. The two first worked together when Farone joined St. Clement’s in 1992 as a first-grade teacher. Kromm was teaching kindergarten at the time, and after leaving to work in various upstate schools, she came back as principal of St. Clement’s in 2006, a feeling similar to “coming home,” she said.

Farone echoed that same feeling: more than just a school, St. Clement’s has always felt like home.

“It’s a comfortable and welcoming place to be,” Farone said. “It makes me happy to be part of this community.”

A graduate herself of St. Clement’s, Farone and her family always had ties to the school: “My father went to school here, my mother taught here for many years, so this place certainly holds a special place in my heart.” It was “humbling” for her to take the position as principal, she said.

Born and raised in Saratoga, Farone and her sister grew up in a faith-focused family. The Farones attended St. Clement’s parish regularly, located right next door to the school, and often incorporated prayer into their lives. “It was a big part of our lives,” Farone said. The impacts of her faith still come up, often when she doesn’t expect it.

“(Faith) impacts me during the times you don’t think it does,” she said. “For me it’s times when you don’t really realize that maybe there’s a reason that things are happening and people have a bigger purpose in mind than what my plan might be.”

“My career has been centered around Catholic education,” Farone added. “I’m thrilled I can work at a place where I can incorporate my faith in what we teach.”

She always had an inkling she wanted to be a teacher, but it wasn’t until sixth grade that Farone was sure about it: “I had a sixth-grade teacher (Ms. LaTour) at St. Clement’s who had an impact on me, and that solidified what I wanted to do,” she said. “I can’t put my finger on what it was but it was just something about how she interacted with us and how she presented things to us, that’s what I wanted to do and that’s how I want to be with students.”

She obtained her bachelor’s in elementary education from St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt. Fresh out of school, Farone taught kindergarten at St. Mary’s-St. Alphonsus School in Glens Falls for four years. In 1992, she made the hop to St. Clement’s, teaching first and second grade.

After a few years, Farone decided to go back to school to attain her master’s in education and her administrative/leadership course¬≠work at SUNY Plattsburgh. For the past few years, she worked as a mix between assistant principal and fifth-grade teacher, something Farone truly enjoyed. Seeing the administrative side of the school is wonderful, she said, but there’s something special about being in the classroom.

“It’s not just the book learning, it’s everything,” Farone said. “It’s what impact you have on (students) personally. There’s more to it than just opening up a social studies book or reading a novel in (English Language Arts), it’s the discussions you have and being able to talk to the kids. I think the relationships you can form with them and their families can be impactful.”

Farone knows there is plenty of work to be done in preparation for the new year. The protocols against COVID-19 remain a prevalent issue for schools across the state. Now, with a year of teaching during a pandemic under their belts, schools are better prepared but still wary. Nobody wants to go back to the turbulence of last year.

“It was hard,” Farone said. “There’s no way around that. It was hard for everybody. It didn’t matter if you were in a school or in the office, it was hard across the board.”

Despite last year’s challenges, Farone maintains that the students helped carry everyone through: “(The students) were so resilient and they did what they needed to do. They didn’t ask questions and didn’t complain about wearing a mask. I was teaching fifth grade and they were just happy to be with each other, whatever that looked like they didn’t care. Whether they had to speak up to the kid six feet away from them, they were just happy to be with their friends.”

The whole school has been a huge help in her transition to her role, Farone added, especially Kromm who has been a wealth of knowledge for her.

“I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to learn under her tutelage and learn from her,” Farone said.

“I feel really good about Anna coming on,” Kromm said. “I know she has the heart and soul of St. Clement’s.”

Kromm’s mantra for St. Clement’s was always “faith and family,” and Farone plans to keep it going for years to come. “I can’t think of a better one,” Farone laughed. “It’s everything we’re about … It tells who we are.”

 

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