The start of another school year always brings new things: fresh clothes, uncluttered backpacks, crisp textbooks. But St. Bernard School on Washington Road also has a new face to welcome. Sister Daniela Bronka begins her duties as principal this school year.
“I’m very excited, not only about Sister’s energy and skill set, but also for her sense of humor and youth,” says the Rev. David Bonnar, pastor of St. Bernard Parish. “I’m excited about the gifts and energy she will bring to the school.”
Sr. Daniela, 40, replaces Daniel Wager as principal, becoming the first religious sister to do so in decades. She has been a fourth grade teacher, volleyball coach and most recently assistant principal of Nazareth Academy Grade School in Philadelphia. “For me, teaching is not just being in the classroom but also being able to interact with students and families outside of class time and to participate in the parish,” she says.
A member of the Holy Family of Nazareth Sisters, Sr. Daniela received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood elementary education from Holy Family University in Philadelphia in 2006. She earned a master’s degree in educational leadership this May from Holy Family. “I love the way the kids learn. [Teaching is] a learning opportunity for both of us,” she says.
A native of Poland, Sr. Daniela grew up with 11 brothers and sisters in Wadowice, the same hometown as Saint John Paul II. She came to the United States in 2001, becoming an American citizen in 2012. “[A large family] made things busy but my family is very close,” she says. Before coming to the United States, Sr. Daniela taught Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) in Kiev, Ukraine.
Sr. Daniela’s goal for her first year is to make herself available to the community, and she is eager to work with St. Bernard’s faculty, staff and students. She hopes to bring “spirituality and a love of family to the people of the parish and especially the school.”
Although the transition to a different diocese and school system can be nerve-wracking, Sr. Daniela has faith. “God is everywhere,” she says. “No matter where we go or what we do, we can overcome challenges and bring His love to others.”