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Maryknoll School chooses veteran educator and alumna as its first female president

Courtesy Maryknoll School. Shana Tong became Maryknoll School’s president effective Feb. 1, 2021.
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Courtesy Maryknoll School. Shana Tong became Maryknoll School’s president effective Feb. 1, 2021.

Shana Tong, a veteran teacher and administrator at Maryknoll School whose tenure there began in kindergarten, today became the first woman and first graduate to serve as president of Hawaii’s largest Catholic school.

In July, in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, the 1983 alumna and then-vice president took over as Maryknoll’s interim president, replacing Perry Martin, who moved to the mainland.

“During some very turbulent and challenging times in our history, Mrs. Tong has been a pillar of stability and peace,” said Rev. EJ Resinto, pastor of Sacred Heart Church and Maryknoll School. “For this I am ever grateful to her.”

Tong has worked at Maryknoll School for more than three decades. She started as a grade-school teacher and went on to become its principal for 10 years, before being named vice president for academic affairs. She is its third lay president.

The school, founded in 1927, has more than 1,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“Students are always first — they’re the heartbeat of the school,” Tong said. “When you make decisions with the students’ best interests in mind, it’s always the right decision.”

Lori Carlos, the school’s admission director and a fellow alumna, said she was delighted to have “one of our own” become president.

“With everything going on in the world, she is someone who has been in the trenches with us at every capacity, as an alum, a parent, a teacher even,” Carlos said. “I think she has such respect from our teachers who are really on the front lines doing things above and beyond to help make our kids feel safe and our families feel secure.”

“It’s appropriate that someone who has helped us through the fires, per se, is now helping lead us into a more hopeful outlook for the world in general,” Carlos added. “That kind of hope is so important for kids and families, especially now.”

Maryknoll students currently may attend classes in person on campus, via distance learning, or through a hybrid approach that combines both options.

The school offers a Dual Language Chinese immersion program, a strong project-based science and technology curriculum, and a Scholar Pathway program with options in aerospace, medical innovations, business and diplomacy, and creative arts and expression.

Tong graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and has two master’s degrees, one in education from Gonzaga University and another in school administration from Chaminade University.

“Mrs. Tong is definitely faced with some challenges navigating the school in an ever-changing world,” Resinto said at a socially distanced ceremony Friday at the school gym. “But I have renewed hope and energy in the leadership she brings us here at Maryknoll School. Shana, this is your time to shine and lead.”

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