St. Michael Academy on the Nolensville Catholic campus is still under construction and won’t be open to students for another year, but its inaugural principal Shana Druffner is already eagerly looking forward to its opening day.
Druffner has been actively involved in the building and preparation processes since being hired this past February.
“Progress has been moving along nicely. We’re spending the remainder of this year finishing the construction, layout, and infrastructure aspects of it,” Druffner explained. “I’ve been having many meetings with the architect and contractor. We’re doing a lot of marketing to spread the word to the community about us. We still have to pick out furniture and get audio-visual machinery in place. The building is scheduled to be done by November to temporarily move Mother Teresa Church’s Masses into our chapel.”
“Beginning in January, we’ll focus more on the academic aspects of the school. We’ll be hiring teachers and staff, selecting textbooks, setting tuition rates and getting the curriculum finalized,” she added. “By August of next year, we should be ready to welcome our first students.”
The first classes will be pre-kindergarten through third grade with the school adding more grades in the following years. A high school will also eventually be added, and Mother Teresa Church will have its own church building.
Druffner has been an educator since 2006. She earned her bachelor’s degree in music performance from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and a master’s in educational leadership from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. Previously, she taught music at All Saints Catholic School in Dallas from 2006 to 2018 before she took over as the school’s principal.
During her time at All Saints, Druffner grew its enrollment from 265 to 325 students, and she helped build an innovation lab for students to explore robotics, coding, and graphic design. Additionally, she added Mandarin Chinese to the school’s curriculum, started a student orchestra, created an honors program for students in grades four through eight, and led All Saints to its third Blue Ribbon School recognition.
She was also president of All Saints’ School Advisory Council when its current campus was first built and therefore had some input in its planning process.
Even with her experience, Druffner noted that leading a new school as principal is much more hands-on. St. Michael is also unique in that it will be a regional school, accepting students from multiple parishes instead of being affiliated with one. Its feeder parishes are Mother Teresa Church in Nolensville, St. Philip the Apostle Church in Franklin, St. Luke Church in Smyrna, Church of the Nativity in Spring Hill, and Holy Family Church in Brentwood.
“We’re spending a lot of time reaching out to these parishes to let families know about us,” Druffner said.
Through it all, Druffner said she continues to maintain her servant leadership approach.
“I’ve learned everything I know about leadership from following the master leader, Jesus,” she said. “He came not to be served, but to serve. By serving those who are under my care, I hope to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the people around me.”
With that in mind, the school’s mission will be to form saints and scholars for the glory of God, Druffner said.
“We want to make disciples of Jesus. We want to instill a joy of learning and a sense of wonder in our students. We want to encourage them to pursue goodness, truth, and beauty,” Druffner said. “We hope that through their studies and their relationships with their teachers and with each other that they will come to know God, who is the source of all goodness, truth, and beauty.”
When the school finally does open, Druffner said she is most looking forward to welcoming students to campus. “I can’t wait to meet our first group of students and their families,” she said. “It’ll be exciting to watch them grow and mature during their time at St. Michael.”