New John Carroll interim President Stephen A. DiBiagio feels like he needs to rush out to Staples and buy new notebooks and pencils.
"I can't wait to start. I'm excited to get together with the executive team and I'm looking forward to the return of faculty and students," DiBiagio, who starts this coming Monday, said. "You've got to get off to a strong start. You don't have a second chance for a first day of school."
After more than 30 years in corporate business, DiBiagio will be re-entering the education field, where he says the principles are the same as in the business world.
"To be successful in business, successful in school are parallel," DiBiagio said Monday while vacationing with his family in Ocean City. "The foundation is building a high-performing, inspired team. Next is, making sure there is a clear vision and mission that defines success. And third is making sure individuals are known and valued. It makes no difference if it's business, school or sports team, whatever endeavor. It's only subject matter that's a little bit different."
DiBiagio, who lives in Bel Air with his wife, Debbie, is coming to John Carroll in an interim role, for one year, with the potential to become the permanent president.
"I never go into anything not fully committed," he said. "I go into everything to see it through to the end and doing whatever I can, whatever folks want me to do as long as they want."
DiBiagio replaces Richard O'Hara, who led the independent Catholic high school for the past 10 years and announced his retirement in April.
He has a background in education and business management, according to an announcement from the school. From 1984 to 2015, he worked at PHH/Element Fleet Management in Hunt Valley, most recently as senior vice president of strategic alliances.
"[DiBiagio] is exactly the right leader for this time in the history of John Carroll," Betsy Campion, chair of the school's board of trustees, said in the announcement posted on the school's website. "His talents, experience and deep commitment will enable him to uphold the academic standards and traditions of the school while effectively steering the vital strategic planning process and moving forward with our campaign initiatives already underway."
Early in his career, DiBiagio taught high school English and journalism, including for his alma mater, Loyola Blakefield in Towson. He also coached lacrosse and was named Maryland Scholastic Association Lacrosse Coach of the Year for two consecutive years, the announcement states.
DiBiagio founded his own consulting firm, High Point Business Solutions, in 2015 to specifically work with education-based businesses, ranging from corporate executive development to school systems working to improve the connection between academics and athletics, the announcement continued.
DiBiagio, a longtime parishioner at St. Ignatius in Hickory, has been involved with John Carroll for a long time, he said. His daughters graduated from the school in 2000 and 2005, and he served as a trustee of the school for nine years.
"And I've always stayed engaged as a volunteer," he said, and when O'Hara announced his retirement, DiBiagio and the board of trustees though DiBiagio would be the right fit for the role.
"I feel I could help with the school and apparently the feeling was mutual, they thought I could help with the school as well," he said.
DiBiagio said he has always been passionate about education and helping develop people to be successful.
"And I always felt John Carroll was a premiere Catholic school and to have an opportunity to work with the faculty and students on building a bright future for the school is a gift," he said. "The way I feel I can help is to provide leadership and support to realize its potential."
As interim president, DiBiagio's role is to facilitate the success of the John Carroll community by providing the support, leadership and tools needed to succeed.
"Tom Durkin [the new principal] is fully empowered to lead the academic side," DiBiagio said. "My role is to make sure Tom has everything he needs, to engage alumni, parents and advocates of the school and to align the missions of the school for everybody who is there to support it."
"Just the opportunity at John Carroll is remarkable. It's a great school, a wonderful community. Very few schools are that fortunate to be part of a community as defined as Bel Air. So it's part of local community but its reach is well beyond. Its a unique setup," he said.
"I'm very grateful to have this opportunity and it's all about building a bright future for students and the John Carroll community. It's all about the future and I cant wait to get started."