Change offers new learning experiences and greater possibilities to Dr. Bertha “Bert” Ciaramello.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Ciaramello studied in London and Mexico City, part of an extensive teaching and administrative career in private and public education.
Having worked in Pennsylvania and most recently in Arizona, Ciaramello’s next challenge in her well-traveled life has brought her to the Pacific Northwest as the new principal at Auburn’s Holy Family Catholic School.
Ciaramello succeeds Dan Hill, who has become the principal at Tacoma’s St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School, where he was vice principal before joining Holy Family.
For the affable Ciaramello, Holy Family is a place to work wonders in a committed, close-knit school and parish. The long-established school supports an enrollment of 193 students, pre-kindergarten to eighth grade, with room to grow.
“It’s such a great community, and it’s a community with an awesome legacy, ” Ciaramello said in a rare moment away from her desk, where she’s been preparing for the start of classes next week. “Generations have been here.
“There is so much love for this parish and for this school,” she said. “People stay here. They’re rooted here. They take care of the place, and they love being a part of the community.”
That connection has drawn Ciaramello to an entirely new home. Weary of Arizona’s desert heat, she welcomes the change to a more comfortable climate and the opportunity to enjoy the people and places of the Green River Valley.
“To see Mount Rainier … right there … is amazing,” she said.
Family also was an attraction. Moving to Auburn means more time to be a doting grandmother.
Ciaramello has a well-rounded background and perspective.
She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in elementary education from West Chester State University (Pa.). She earned her master’s of education degree in administration and supervision from Arizona State University West, and entered ASU’s DELTA (Dynamic Educational Leadership for Teachers and Administrators) doctoral program.
She studied bi-national education in Mexico City and Education in a Global Context at the University of London, where she completed her doctoral coursework.
She has built a 17-year career working in Catholic and public elementary schools in Pennsylvania and Arizona. Her resume includes 15 years of administrative experience, seven of those years as a principal.
“I am very collaborative by nature … but if I need to, I will make a decision on my own,” Ciaramello said of her leadership style.
“Teachers are their own best resources,” she continued. “I treat them as professionals, as they should be treated, and try to build collective efficacy where we know we can make a difference and therefore, we do make a difference in kids’ lives.”
Personable, hard working, Ciaramello adds to her strong personality a good-sense-of-humor.
She’s ready to get started in her new assignment.
“Families want the best for their kids, and they feel like they are getting it here at Holy Family,” she said. “I believe I have the most important job in the world, taking care of children.
“I feel so privileged to be working with the Holy Family community, a community that supports and cares very much for the students.”
Ciaramello and her husband, Lou, of 35 years, live in Kent. They have raised four children.