St. Mary Catholic Schools (SMCS) has added three associate principals to the Elementary Leadership Team. Alma Cendejas Ruiz, Jennifer Giombetti, and Jackie Lutz will take on their new roles in July 2022.

In February 2022, SMCS Superintendent Dan McKenna announced plans to restructure leadership at the elementary level to include an elementary principal supported by a full time associate principal at each elementary campus. This new leadership team is designed to allow for greater opportunities for collaboration in improving instruction, curriculum alignment, and differentiation. In April 2022, SMCS announced Anna Cihlar as the Elementary Principal. Anna is a seasoned educator and author with two decades of classroom experience with degrees in Spanish and Bilingual Education.

Welcome to our elementary associate principals

Alma Cendejas Ruiz will serve as the Associate Principal at our St. Mary campus. Alma brings experience in administration as a dean of students and a decade of experience in bilingual education.

A message from Alma:

Hello, ¡hola! My name is Alma Cendejas Ruiz and I am honored to be a part of SMCS as the new Elementary Associate Principal at St. Mary Elementary. I come to you with ten years of educational and teaching experience. I am a graduate of Fox Valley Technical College, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and earned my Master’s Degree in Administration from Grand Canyon University with licenses in elementary education, bilingual education, ELL, and administration.

My family consists of my husband Juan, our daughters, Aneisa and Emeli, and our son, Arón. Our family enjoys watching movies, spending time with family, and playing with our dog Chico.

The love and support within this community is precisely why I am dedicated to making our school the best school for all our children. I pray we embrace one another and continue to grow our love for our school and grow in our faith.”

Jennifer Giombetti will serve as the Associate Principal at our St. Gabriel campus. Jennifer brings over 20 years of classroom teaching experience, most recently as the first grade teacher at St. Gabriel Elementary.

A message from Jennifer:

“It is with great excitement that I write this letter of introduction as the Associate Principal of St. Gabriel this coming school year. I have been dedicated to Catholic Education for sixteen years which includes serving in both Oshkosh, at Lourdes Academy, and currently at SMCS. I am honored to have this opportunity to lead alongside so many dedicated teachers, staff, parents, and amazing children.


I live in Appleton with my husband, Tony. God has blessed us with five beautiful children. Our three youngest children will attend school at St. Gabriel in the fall. We are also faith-filled members of St. Gabriel Parish. I enjoy reading, cooking, and spending time with my family.

Together, we will continue to grow our love for our school and in our faith. Thank you for this opportunity to serve you and your children.”

Jackie Lutz will serve as the Associate Principal at our St. Margaret Mary campus. Jackie has worked in Catholic schools for more than 20 years, most recently as an elementary school principal in Eau Claire.

A message from Jackie:

“I am very excited to be part of the SMCS systemI am finishing up my fourth year as an elementary principal at St. James Elementary which is part of the Regis Catholic Schools system in Eau Claire. I’ve been teaching in Catholic schools for over 20 years so it was a natural transition to pursue my master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Viterbo University. It has been so rewarding working in Catholic schools!

My husband and I have 2 grown sons Willie and Andy and 2 granddaughters Amara (almost 3 years old) and Jade (almost one month old!). We decided to relocate to Appleton to be closer to Wille and his family. I’m very excited to live closer to my granddaughters! Andy and his wife live in Vancouver, Washington so we enjoy traveling out west in the summer. I love the outdoors, walking our dogs Levi and Ruby, and relaxing at our cabin up north.

I am grateful for this opportunity and I’m excited to meet the staff, students, and families at SMCS! 

Earlier this month the new leadership team met in person for the first time.

Following the meeting, Principal Anna Cihlar shared her excitement about the new team, “I recently had the opportunity to meet our elementary school associate principal team. I am amazed at how quickly we bonded through prayer, laughter, and enthusiasm for our future together at SMCS. All three of the associate principals bring a robust educational background and diverse talents and gifts to the unique identities found at St. Gabriel, St. Margaret Mary, and St. Mary schools. It is an honor to work with the leadership team as we partner with our families and students to foster a strong, vibrant, faith-filled, and united school community.”

More communication regarding and from this new leadership team will be coming this summer. Thank you for your continued support and prayer for St. Mary Catholic Schools.

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