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Call him Mr. President

Mariano takes reins at his alma later

BRAINTREE -- What goes around comes around. And Carmen Mariano, longtime Quincy educator, won't have far to go when he returns to the school he attended more than 40 years ago to become its first president.

Mariano, 60, is scheduled to start his new job tomorrow as president of Archbishop Williams High School. David Francis, president of the board of trustees, likens the just-created top job to a CEO post.

The addition of the new top office is a significant shift of governance at the 58-year-old coeducational Catholic high school.

It is designed to keep the school on a successful path, Francis said, and it will allow Mariano to work closely with the school principal, Mary Lou Sadowski, other school leaders, and the trustees.

Mariano has nothing but good memories of "Archie," as many fondly refer to the institution.

The school "made me feel special, it made me feel valued," said Mariano, a Quincy native who graduated in 1964. "It truly made me believe in my future. Success is contagious and so is lack of it, and I enjoyed wonderful success there with the support of my teachers and fellow students."

Mariano, who lives in Braintree, is former national staff development director of Educational Performance Systems Inc. and since 2001 had been assistant superintendent of schools and personnel in Quincy, overseeing a staff of 950 and the educational needs of students in grades K-12. He has served in a variety of leadership roles in the Quincy system, in addition to teaching and being a varsity wrestling coach at Quincy High School.

He earned his doctorate in educational leadership from Boston College, his master's degree in education from Harvard University, and his bachelor of arts degree from Catholic University in Washington. He is a motivational speaker, author of dozens of educational articles, and adjunct professor at Curry College in Milton and Massasoit Community College in Brockton.

Mariano had been a member of the Archbishop Williams board for three years, and his transition to school president began in a conversation with another board member during the search.

"Carmen was talking to a board member about an educational method he'd been asked about," Francis said. "None of us had thought of Carmen becoming president. He was at a high level in Quincy already; it never crossed my mind."

In the conversation, the possibility of Mariano's applying for the job came up. He went through the same application and interview process as the other eight finalists (from an initial applicant pool of 40). It came down to Mariano and another candidate.

"In the end, we went with Carmen," Francis said. "You look at his resume and credentials and realize he's had such a superb career as an educator and administrator. He stands out in all aspects, and he's really a very, very humble guy."

Mariano resigned from the board when he was selected president.

"We want to continue to provide students with strong, well-rounded academic and athletic programs," said trustee Tracy Vaughan of the new position. "And we're growing at a point where we need a president-principal model to manage that growth and continue moving in the right direction."

At an age when many in Mariano's position might be winding down a career, he's gearing up for a new challenge, and sees his role as president as the best way to give back to the school.

"I came to Archbishop Williams as a 14-year-old with questions and left with a strength of spirit and sense of self," he said. "It changed my life, changed who I was. This is a chance as the school's first president to help the school continue to do that for others."

Mariano vowed to become "part of the fabric of the school; I want teachers, administrators, students to know me and feel valued by me. I fully intend to become part of the school. I'll be at football games, involved in concerts, I'll attend their Masses."

He said he will work closely with Sadowski, the principal, whom Mariano said has done "an excellent job"; the school's chief financial officer, Edward Durvan; and the director of development, a position now in transition.

Francis said school officials and the board have expansion plans -- including for a new athletic facility, slated to open this fall -- and see the creation of a president's position as part of that process. The new office "is one of the many pieces of a longer, larger vision. We needed a CEO who can meld all the needs from an educational, developmental and administrative side," he said.

For Mariano, leaving a school system he loved for one that formed his educational roots "was a bittersweet choice."

"I'm proud and sad at the same time," he said. "Proud to be here but so sad to leave Quincy public schools. It's the hardest decision I've ever made."

And the new job is just in keeping with the best advice anyone had ever given him.

"My father always told me, 'Stay in school,' " Mariano said. "So I've stayed in schools -- for 54 years now."

Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at Kandarian@globe.com.

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