WATERBURY — Two decades ago, Thomas J. Pompei began his career in education as a substitute teacher at Holy Cross High School in Waterbury. This week, he was named principal of the Catholic school founded here in 1968.
The Congregation of Holy Cross, Moreau Province, the board of directors and President Dr. Thomas Pellegrino made the announcement.
Pompei, who has been an educator for Naugatuck Public Schools for 18 years, will begin his duties as principal Monday. He said his goal at Holy Cross is to “fill a leadership void that we lost with the loss of Mrs. Leger.”
The late Margaret “Peggy” Leger was hired as a physical education teacher at Holy Cross in 1980 and had many roles besides president and principal, including coaching cross country and track, assistant to the director of students and assistant principal for academic life.
“My job is to bring stability and fill that leadership void,” said Pompei, adding that Leger had been a constant at the school for so many years. “I’m honored to pick up the mantle for her.”
Pompei said the school has “amazing faculty, tremendous kids and a beautiful campus.”
Leger was handling both the role of president and principal, according to Todd Santa Maria, the school’s director of communications & marketing. But when she left the school due to illness in 2018, the board decided to go back to having a principal and a president, a prior model that worked for them.
Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said Pompei is a passionate and dedicated leader.
“He knew every kid, their name, their talent, their story. He leads with his heart,” Locke said. “Tommy was adored at Naugatuck High School. He will lead at Holy Cross as if every one of the kids is his own.”
Locke said Pompei will be “sorely missed.
“They made a great hire,” Locke said.
Naugatuck High School Principal John Harris echoed Locke’s sentiments.
“We’re going to deeply miss Tom at the high school,” Harris said. “He has built such strong relationships with our students and families over the years and provided strong, steady leadership in our building. We wish him all the best at Holy Cross.”
After becoming a substitute teacher at Holy Cross, Pompei worked at Naugatuck High School for 18 years as an English teacher, the director of athletics and activities, and most recently, as the associate principal/dean of students. He also served as president of the Naugatuck League, the director of Adult and Continuing Education for the Naugatuck Schools, the treasurer of the Naugatuck Administrators Negotiating Association, and co-president of the Naugatuck Administrators Negotiating Association.
Pellegrino, president of Holy Cross, said he is thrilled to have Pompei at the school.
“He brings a perfect balance of experience, energy, and innovation to this important role. The type of mission-based education that Holy Cross is known for has never been more important or needed. Tom joins an amazing team of dedicated faculty and staff to bring our mission to fruition,” Pellegrino said.
A graduate of the Taft School, Pompei earned his undergraduate degree in English and secondary education from Boston College and his graduate degree in secondary education and administration from the University of Bridgeport.
Pompei said the job is truly a dream for him because Holy Cross has been such a part of his life for so long.
“It’s something I wanted for a long time,” he said. “It’s a place that’s special to me.”
Pompei said one of his three children currently attends Holy Cross, while another has graduated and the third plans to attend.
Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.