By Amanda Coronado     6/7/2019

Santa Margarita Catholic High School announced the selection of Cheri Wood as the school’s next principal. Starting July 1, Wood will join the school’s leadership team with administrative responsibilities focused on academics, faculty, student life and spiritual development through the school’s charism of Caritas Christi, the love of Christ.  

SMCHS sought a leader who will not only continue to cultivate the school’s charism, but who also possesses a high-level understanding of curriculum and instruction. In addition, great value was placed on a leader who understands the demands of today’s student, has a keen perspective on the mental health needs of students and faculty members, and who is committed to serving them in their growth and development, said SMCHS President Andy Sulick.  

“Throughout the selection process, Mrs. Wood demonstrated the desired traits, as well as the energy and passion to continue the leadership excellence of our high school,” Sulick said. 

Wood joins SMCHS with over 30 years of educational experience, most recently at Cornelia Connelly School in Anaheim where she serves as head of school. Previously, she has held principal positions in both the Diocese of Orange and the Diocese of Arlington in Virginia. Wood’s background in education is rooted in Catholicism, curriculum development, collaborative leadership and cultivating a transformative school environment. 

“I am dedicated to vision and collaboration within a school community and among stakeholders in order to provide a learning environment that fosters spiritual growth, character, academic achievement, intellectual curiosity, individuality and a global vision of our connectedness where each student is known and loved,” Mrs. Wood said. “I am here to be a spiritual leader, collaborate with our faculty, serve the community and support the mission of Santa Margarita Catholic High School.”  

Wood earned a Post-Master’s Certificate in School Administration from Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore and a Master of Arts in Psychology from Occidental College, Los Angeles. She and her husband, Ron, have two grown children and look forward to becoming active parishioners at San Francisco Solano Catholic Church adjacent to the SMCHS campus. 

“The Diocese of Orange Department of Catholic Schools joins Santa Margarita Catholic High School in welcoming Cheri Wood as their new principal,” said Dr. Erin Barisano, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Orange. “We are confident that, with her administrative skills, experience and commitment to Catholic education, she will continue the tradition of strong, faith-based administrative leadership. We look forward to supporting her as she begins her tenure.” 

Wood succeeds Principal Ray Dunne who is retiring at the end of the school year after 12 years of dedicated service as principal of SMCHS and 48 years in education. Dunne will continue to teach an AP Government class at Santa Margarita, which he has taught since joining the SMCHS family as principal in 2007 and previously taught while principal at Servite High School in Anaheim.