In September, when Headmaster Br. Paul Diveny, OSB announced that, after a ten year tenure, he would step down at the end of the school year, many wondered who the next headmaster would be. At a Morning Meeting on November 10, we got our answer: Abbot Richard Cronin, OSB announced that Fr. Michael Tidd, OSB will take over as headmaster this July. Fr. Michael will be 12th headmaster in the seventy-nine year history of Delbarton.
The announcement was greeted with an enthusiastic standing ovation from Delbarton students and teachers who know and admire Fr. Michael through his roles as history teacher, Forensics coach and Testing Coordinator.
Br. Paul says, "I could not be happier about the selection of Fr. Michael to succeed me as headmaster of Delbarton. Fr. Michael has all the skills, training and experience to be an outstanding head of school. He is a master teacher, a seasoned administrator and a man of deep faith. I look forward to working with him in the next few months as he prepares to take the reins of this remarkable educational institution – Delbarton School. I wish him all the best as he begins this new chapter of his life."
The Selection Process
In making their decision, the monks of St. Mary's Abbey followed a thoughtful protocol: Abbot Richard consulted with the monastic Council of Seniors, met with the Education Committee of the Lay Board of Trustees, and consulted Delbarton School administrators. He also listened to other monks, trustees, faculty members and staff, alumni and parents of current students and graduates who approached him with opinions and suggestions. Abbot Richard says, "I very much appreciate all of the input which gives me confidence that this appointment has broad support."
An Eminently Qualified Successor
Fr. Michael Tidd comes eminently qualified for his new job: a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a B.A. in European History, he also holds an M.A. in Theology and Pastoral Studies from LaSalle University, an Ed. D. in Private School Administration from the University of San Francisco and an MNA (Master of Nonprofit Administration) from the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business.
Since arriving at Delbarton ten years ago, Fr. Michael has helped to rebuild the School's now award-winning forensics program and has garnered numerous awards for his speech and debate coaching expertise. In 2009, he was awarded the First Diamond Coach Award from the National Speech and Debate Association, followed by a Second Diamond Coach Award in 2014. He was named Coach of the Year in 2012 by the New Jersey Forensic League and, in 2013, Fr. Michael was inducted into the Gold Key Society of The Barkley Forum for High Schools at Emory University.
Fr. Michael entered monastic life at Marmion Abbey in Aurora, IL in June 2006 where he professed First Vows in July 2007. He transferred to St. Mary's Abbey in June 2008 where he made his solemn Profession of Vows in July 2011, and was ordained to the priesthood in December, 2013. He serves as Treasurer of the Order of Saint Benedict of New Jersey, Inc. (the civil corporation that operates St. Mary's Abbey and Delbarton School) and, in the past decade, has established himself as a scholarly mentor and knowledgeable fiscal counselor.
At Delbarton, he serves as a World History and AP World History teacher, Testing Coordinator and now-Assistant Director of Forensics. He has also volunteered his services to various forensic governing bodies and school accreditation groups. From 2010-2015 he acted as Vice President of Debate for the New Jersey Forensic League and has served several schools as a Validation Team Chair for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Prior to coming to Delbarton, Fr. Michael also taught at several high schools and colleges, including Calvert Hall College High School in Baltimore, Hudson Catholic Regional High School and Seton Hall University in New Jersey, and Salesianum School and Wilmington University in Delaware.
Br. Paul's Legacy
For Br. Paul, the conclusion of his term as headmaster is an appropriate time to reflect on the legacy he soon leaves behind.
During his ten year tenure, Delbarton has experienced a physical transformation which includes the 40 Acres Fields Complex, the modernization of the football/lacrosse fields and the construction of the all-weather track, the renovation of the first floor of Old Main, and the complete renovation of Trinity Hall, the improvement that gives him the most satisfaction since he was deeply involved in the project that affects the daily life of each and every student. "I am very proud that we have been able to upgrade our facilities for today's students and for those who will follow," he says.
He is also proud that the academic program at Delbarton has maintained and built upon its strength and integrity. Under his guidance, Delbarton enjoyed an expansion of faculty professional development and increased its involvement in national and international organizations including the International Boys Schools Coalition (IBSC) and the Center for Spirituality and Ethics in Education. The School's curriculum evolved to include innovative courses and assets liked the Delbarton Incubator and the new Ryan Crane '95 Business Center. Br. Paul, a teacher of German, also encouraged the introduction of two new foreign languages - Italian and Arabic – which suggest his next source of pride.
"When I came into the headmaster's office, I knew that I wanted to raise Delbarton's international profile," recalls Br. Paul. Thanks to his influence, Delbarton has added three more school-to-school exchanges – in Australia, Peru and France – increased the number of overseas service projects, greatly expanded its foreign travel and study programs and even created a new faculty position: Director of Global Programs.
The Benedictine values that underpin and shape Delbarton remain at the core of Delbarton's ethos, and Br. Paul committed himself to translating these values for today's students. Often, he shared inspiration from the Rule of St. Benedict, regularly bringing the Rule to life for students and faculty at morning meetings. Br. Paul was also instrumental in defining foundational Benedictine values in "The Hallmarks of a Benedictine School", a modern Delbarton document that each new student is encouraged to read and assimilate. Says Br. Paul, "I hope that the school's embrace of its Benedictine identity will continue to grow and deepen in the years ahead."
Sustainability and respect for the environment are also important values he strove to impart to the School. "I wanted every student, teacher and family to love this piece of God's earth as the wonderful gift that it is," he says, and he is optimistic that Delbarton and its graduates are learning to step up to the task of being true and worthy stewards of God's creation, not just at Delbarton, but on the entire planet. "The adoption of a stewardship and sustainability goal in our last Middle States evaluation has given me hope."
Br. Paul also presided over the celebratory year that marked Delbarton's 75th anniversary, and oversaw two Middle States Evaluations that established important goals to move the School forward. It has been a busy ten years. Last year, the Archway yearbook staff asked Br. Paul ('when you retire') how he hoped others would view Delbarton. His reply suggests the deep love he feels for the School and the land where he has lived and worked for the past thirty-five years:
"I wish people would see Delbarton as the totality of all the wonderful things that it is – a place of high academic standards that challenges young men to think, a place with an amazing athletic program that brings out the best in young men, a place where the arts flourish and creativity is cherished, where young men are encouraged to imagine, a place where faith is deepened and lived on an everyday basis, a place that imbues in young men the sense of responsibility for the needs of others, a place where compassion for oneself and for others is cultivated, a place that puts the other first and served as if they were Christ, a place where kindness is esteemed and practiced, a place that is inclusive, warm and welcoming. Delbarton at its best!"
The Delbarton community is deeply grateful for Br. Paul's devoted service as headmaster over the past ten years and wishes him well next year as he enjoys a well-earned one year sabbatical. Abbot Richard says, "I am most grateful to Brother Paul Diveny, OSB for the great progress that Delbarton School has made during his ten years of service as headmaster and for his outstanding leadership."
In July, we will welcome Fr. Michael as the 12th Headmaster of Delbarton School. He appears to be ready, willing and able to take on the job. "I am deeply honored by the confidence that Abbot Richard and my monastic community has shown me by asking me to succeed as headmaster a remarkably gifted monk, teacher, and leader as Brother Paul Diveny. I am excited to work with an extraordinarily talented administration, faculty, staff and student body to build on Brother Paul's legacy and live out our mission as a Catholic and Benedictine independent school, to be the best "school for the Lord's service" that we can be."