It's a relationship spanning some 30 years: two graduates, a daughter employed, and a grandson who is currently a freshman. For Mary-Anne DiMarco, Malden Catholic has always been a part of her life. Now, Mrs. DiMarco begins a new role with MC: International Enrollment Coordinator.
"It really feels like I know the place, it's not a strange environment at all," said Mrs. DiMarco when asked how she's settling in. "I'm very comfortable here."
DiMarco has a long history with Malden Catholic. When her sons Anthony '88 and current MC Trustee Rob '91 were students, she was very involved with the Malden Catholic Lancers Association. Today, her daughter Mrs. Marianna Cavuoto P'21 works as an assistant to the academic administration and her grandson Mario is a freshman.
"We've always felt that Malden Catholic did right by our boys," Mrs. DiMarco said of her experience as a parent of two MC students. "Now, I can give back and help other families in a similar capacity."
For Mrs. DiMarco though, her current role at MC is nothing new to her. She has been paving the way for international students to attend Catholic schools in the U.S. since 2004.
The beginning: "I started out as a public-school teacher where I taught middle and high school foreign languages," said Mrs. DiMarco of her start in education. "I taught French, Italian, Spanish and Latin, but then I realized I wanted to do something more."
DiMarco, a firm believer in "you're never too old to learn something new," said she wanted a change of pace so she finished up some degree work and, by chance, bumped into then-Headmaster Br. Robert Sullivan, C.F.X., at an MC event.
"Br. Sullivan told me that Nazareth Academy was looking for an assistant principal. I went for it and began a 10-year stint at Our Lady of Nazareth Academy in Wakefield.
"Then, in 2001, the Archdiocese hired a new principal at Pope John High School and, to offset an all-male administration, I was hired as the vice-principal."
DiMarco was at Pope John for 17 years serving first as vice-principal and later, as principal. In 2004, Mary-Anne began a program for international students and for 8 years she combined her principalship with her directorship of international programs.
"In the beginning our international student program was very small," said Mrs. DiMarco, who stepped down as principal in 2012 and instead focused full-time on international students. "But it grew to over 150 students, with more interested every day.
"Life has a way of playing games with you," Mrs. DiMarco said with a smile while reflecting on her time at Pope John. "When you decide to do something new, you don’t know how it will work out, but it worked out pretty well."
Change of pace: Recognizing the importance of its international student program, Malden Catholic realized it needed someone with a background in this field to help it grow. "When I was told the head of school might be interested in talking to me about a position, I didn't run and make an appointment," said Mrs. DiMarco.
"But I bumped into him at Grandparents Day, so we talked and it just seemed like we were connected on many levels. I realized there were some things MC could teach me, and some things I could bring over here.
"When offered the job I didn't have to think too long about it," said Mrs. DiMarco with a smile. "My family felt like I belonged in a place like Malden Catholic. I'm very happy I made the jump. My husband has been ecstatic since my first day here."
Witnessing growth: When asked about how she has seen Malden Catholic grow over the past 30 years, DiMarco cites two things: facilities and academics. "I remember when the building went up," Mrs. DiMarco said of the 99 Crystal Street location. "The updates to MC's facilities are like night and day, and that's important. When donors can see where their money is going and how it's helping to improve the school, it makes all the difference."
"It's MC's curriculum that really stands out to me though," said Mrs. DiMarco. "MC is consistently keeping up with the times which is essential. The STEM, math, and robotics programs here are phenomenal. Students need exposure to these types of courses, because it will keep our country moving.
"Having international programs just enhances all of that," adds DiMarco. "Ideally, I would like to see teachers using our international students as primary sources, because they're living the things we're teaching.
"There is a lot to be learned from someone speaking to his peers about what it's like to live in a country with a different political system, to be far away from home, to learn a new culture, and MC is keeping pace with that," said Mrs. DiMarco.
Improving international programs: "Malden Catholic is already accepting and getting such high quality international students," said Mrs. DiMarco. "I am amazed when I look at the grades of the students here.
"There are many benefits for Catholic Schools to accept international students, but the question is, are you giving back to them?" asks DiMarco.
"These students are here to learn culture, English, and get a first-rate education and that is what Malden Catholic is giving them, a first-rate education," said DiMarco.
"These kids are taking full course loads, some are taking four or more AP classes and have averages in the 90s for those classes. Already, some of our international students have been accepted to Cornell, Purdue, Fordham, and more," said DiMarco proudly.
"Where I come in," DiMarco says, "is I can reach out to new kids from different parts of the world and expand the program a little more, and that's what I find the most exciting.
"Malden Catholic is in the ideal percentile when it comes to international students. At the same time though, they want to expand and diversify, and that's my goal here," said DiMarco.
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