The Catholic School Office of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has announced the appointment of three new principals: Kelly Leverone at Holy Spirit School, East Greenbush; Kayla Bills at St. Mary’s Institute, Amsterdam, and Matthew Murphy at St. Mary’s School, Waterford. All three appointments are effective July 1, 2023.
The newly appointed principals were selected through an extensive interview process conducted by the Catholic School Office in collaboration with pastors, parish community representatives, teachers, and local school board members.
“All three principals have strong roots in their respective schools, offering a deep sense of history and mission,” said Dr. Giovanni Virgiglio, Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Albany. “These appointments are not only exciting for the individual schools but for our diocesan-wide communion of schools because they remind us that Catholic education is not just a career; it is a calling. We are so grateful to all those who commit their lives to our students, our faculty and staff, and our larger mission.”
Kelly Leverone, Holy Spirit School
Currently the Pre-K 4 teacher at Holy Spirit School, Kelly Leverone comes into the role as principal with more than 31 years of involvement in Catholic education. Her first experience with Holy Spirit was from the parent side of the education equation, when her oldest son attended nursery school. In 2008, she joined the staff as a middle school religion instructor for grades five through eight. As a parent, volunteer, community member, and teacher, she is uniquely qualified to lead Holy Spirit School.
“I am truly humbled and honored to be chosen as the next leader of Holy Spirit School. The impact that Holy Spirit School has had on my family is one that will never be forgotten. I am committed to ensuring that all students have the opportunity to grow in their faith, knowledge, and community,” Mrs. Leverone said. “I look forward to serving our students, parents, and teachers with the heart of a true servant leader.”
Mrs. Leverone holds a Bachelor of Science in Education from The College of Saint Rose and a Master of Science in Reading and Literacy from Walden University. In addition, she attended the Siena Summer Marketing Institute from 2014 to 2019, training which she used to benefit Holy Spirit School directly as co-chair of the Marketing and Enrollment Committee and as social media manager for the school. She has also served as a teacher mentor, assisting and supporting new teachers, and as a liturgical coordinator for school liturgies and prayer services.
Prior to joining the staff of Holy Spirit School, Mrs. Leverone was a music instructor at St. Madeleine Sophie School in Guilderland, and a teacher at St. Paul the Apostle School in Schenectady. She and her husband, Mark, have four children, all graduates of Holy Spirit School; they are members of Sacred Heart parish in Castleton. Among her hobbies, Mrs. Leverone includes spending time with family, baseball, and visiting MLB stadiums across the country with her husband. She is an avid Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots fan.
Kayla Bills, St. Mary’s Institute
Since 2018, Kayla Bills has been teaching third grade at St. Mary’s Institute, where she also works to engage students in the life of the parish outside of school. Prior to joining the staff of St. Mary’s Institute, Mrs. Bills worked at Amsterdam Head Start, as a kindergarten teaching assistant, and as a special education instructor. She has a broad background in teaching children of all age ranges and abilities, making her someone who truly understands the needs of students and their families as well as the needs of faculty and staff. Throughout her time at SMI, she has taken on additional administrative responsibilities which have prepared and positioned her well for this next role.
“I am very excited to be appointed the new principal at St. Mary’s Institute. SMI has a rich history in providing its students with a high-quality Catholic education, which is imperative in the ever-changing world in which we live,” she said. “I look forward to working with the students, faculty, and families, in conjunction with St. Mary’s Parish, to ensure SMI students are able to thrive, receiving a well-rounded, Catholic faith-based academic education.”
Mrs. Bills earned a Bachelor of Arts in Childhood Education and a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction, both from The College of Saint Rose. She is particularly interested in maintaining the strong Catholic identity of St. Mary’s Institute and working to help teachers find new ways to offer instruction through the lens of faith.
A native of Amsterdam and a lifelong parishioner of St. Mary's Church, Mrs. Bills and her husband, Brandon, have three daughters, ranging in age from 8 months to 9 years old. The family also has a dog, Daisy, and a rabbit, Fuzzy, and they love outdoor activities, especially in the warm weather. Weekly gatherings with extended family fill much of their free time.
Matthew Murphy, St. Mary’s School-Waterford
Prior to being named principal of Mater Christi School in Albany last year, Matthew Murphy spent nine years as a middle school teacher at St. Mary’s School in Waterford, making his appointment as principal a reunion of sorts. With 19 years of experience as a professional educator, Mr. Murphy comes to the position with a wide range of leadership experiences and educational specialties.
“I believe strongly in Catholic education and the benefits it bestows on our communities. I look forward to returning to the school and community that started me on the road to leadership,” he said. “It’s my great honor to be given this opportunity. I would also like to thank the Mater Christi community for their support this past year.”
Mr. Murphy earned a Bachelor of Arts in American History from Salve Regina University and a Master of Arts in Childhood Education from The College of Saint Rose. He also completed the School Building Leadership Certificate at The College of Saint Rose.
For the past year, he has served as principal of Mater Christi. From 2012 to 2022 he taught various grade levels at St. Mary’s School in Waterford and was Middle School Captain from 2019 to 2022, a position that required him to assist with disciplinary issues for students, create plans for students with special needs, and serve on the Albany Diocesan Schools Curriculum Cabinet. He also serves as a member of the New York State Education Department’s Advisory Council. Prior to teaching at St. Mary’s, he taught for a decade in the Albany City School District and was a high school football coach for 14 years.
He and his wife, Kate, have two daughters in high school with his oldest continuing Catholic education at the college level next year. Among his hobbies he includes watching sports and golf.