Mary Jo Sarff, new principal at St. Joseph School in Pekin, has strong ties to parish

Mary Jo Sarff

PEKIN — She might be new to the principal’s office at St. Joseph School, but Mary Jo Sarff is no stranger to St. Joseph Parish.

Born and raised in Pekin, she has celebrated all of her sacraments at St. Joseph. Her family and her husband’s family are active members of the parish.

“When I was 22, there was no place else I wanted to receive the sacrament of marriage,” she told The Catholic Post. “All of my children have been baptized at St. Joseph and continue the family tradition of receiving their sacraments at our church.”

Sarff succeeds Shannon Rogers, who had served as principal at St. Joseph School since 2007. She received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Western Illinois University in 2000, a master’s degree in teaching and leadership from St. Xavier University in 2009, and administration certification from Bradley University in 2018.

Drawn to teaching by a love for learning new things, Sarff said she wanted the opportunity to share that love with children. “I enjoy the moment when a child reaches their goals academically, socially, and continually,” she explained.

She was a third grade teacher in Glendale, Arizona, from 2001 to 2003, and a permanent substitute teacher in Pekin District 108 from 2003 to 2004. For the last 15 years she has been at Wilson Intermediate School in Pekin, teaching fourth grade for 14 years and sixth grade for one year.

“I was looking for an opportunity to change my role in education,” she said of her decision to apply to St. Joseph School. “My hope and goal was that I would find a place where I could share what I have learned with teachers, students, parents and the community.”

Sarff said she also felt called “to develop my own Catholic faith by leading in an environment where prayer, worship, community and learning are all one.”

“We have had the opportunity to participate in Catholic education programs throughout our years and are looking forward to becoming more involved and engaged in our Catholic faith,” she said.

Sarff and her husband have one daughter, Riley, and two sons, Russell and Phoenix.

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