Ohio native Dukes hired as Resurrection principal

By John Rohlf

The Message assistant editor

Nancy Dukes

Citing a desire to move closer to her son and his family, current Ohio resident Nancy Dukes was recently named Resurrection School’s next principal. 

The hire of Nancy Dukes, who is currently the principal of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Columbus Grove, Ohio, as the next principal at Resurrection was recently announced. Dukes will replace Theresa Berendes, who is retiring at the end of the school year. 

“We’re thrilled to be welcoming Mrs. Nancy Dukes to Resurrection and our diocese in June,” Diocese of Evansville Superintendent of Schools Michelle Priar said. “She comes with valued experience as a Catholic school principal, and I am confident that her skill sets will help Resurrection carry on the high standard of excellence that Theresa Berendes has established.” 

Dukes has been the principal at St. Anthony of Padua School in Ohio for the past six years. She has spent the majority of her career serving in Catholic Schools. 

With the move, Dukes will be closer to her son and his family, who currently reside in Evansville. Dukes mentioned she missed a few activities her granddaughter was involved in this year. She stressed being closer to family was on her mind. 

“I’m five hours away up here,” Dukes said. “So it’s been a challenge to get away as a principal here in northwest Ohio to get to see my grandkids. My daughter-in-law mentioned it to me when I was down in Evansville at Christmas that she had heard about a couple principal openings. So my husband and I talked about it and he encouraged to apply…” 

Dukes brings over 30 years of education experience to Resurrection. She was a music teacher for 25 years before moving into an administrative role for the past six years. 

She said St. Anthony in Ohio is a fairly small school compared to Resurrection. While it is nice to get to know the students in a small school, she does not currently have the resources that will be offered at Resurrection. 

“A bigger school, you have a nurse usually and you have a guidance counselor,” Dukes said. “You might have an assistant principal. You have all those other roles. At a smaller school, when you have the lower enrollment, it’s usually the principal that does all those jobs.”

Courtney Ethridge

Just as Dukes takes over as principal at Resurrection, the school will be adding an assistant principal position. Current teacher Courtney Ethridge, who has been a teacher at Resurrection for the past 14 years, will take over the newly created assistant principal position. The Evansville native was intrigued by the administrative side of education for the past few years. 

“The last three years, I’ve really kind of felt that this is something that I want to do,” Ethridge said. “I’m excited about this stepping-stone because you don’t always get that. It’s like straight from the classroom to the principal for some people. Which can be great. But I’m really excited about this idea of learning one-on-one and still being in this environment that I love.”

Dukes believes it will be a benefit to have an assistant principal familiar with both the school and parish. Ethridge also thinks it helps to have a familiar face in administration. They have so many students with so many needs and they want to support them the best they can, Ethridge said. 

Dukes confirmed she is in regular contact with both Ethridge and the diocesan office as she prepares to move to the area this summer after the current school year. Dukes said she already is subscribed to the Google calendars and follows the school on Facebook. She noticed there are so many things going on at Resurrection and so many great things. 

Dukes was also impressed with the diocese throughout the interviewing process. She was drawn to the position in part due to the reputation of academic excellence at Resurrection. She also referenced Resurrection prioritizing both the Catholic identity and academic performance. 

She also noted a moment after the 10:30 a.m. Mass Easter Sunday at Resurrection, which was after she had been announced as the principal. Despite no announcement being made prior to or during the Mass, three or four teachers approached Dukes and introduced themselves. 

“They knew my name,” Dukes said. “They introduced themselves … And just so friendly and welcoming. It brought me to tears. My heart was so full that it really lit that fire of excitement about starting my ministry there.”