Meet the Management Team
President Willers, a native of San Francisco, offers over 30 years of service in Catholic Education. He holds a BA in Philosophy/Teaching Credential from Don Bosco Seminary College, Newton, NJ; an MDiv in Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology, and Advanced Certificate in Catholic Educational Diocesan Leadership from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC. President Willers served as Associate Superintendent of Leadership for Innovation and Growth for the Diocese of Oakland, CA. In addition to his 17 years as an elementary school principal, Ken has been a classroom teacher at the elementary, Jr. High and High School levels. He has taught in Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Diocese of Oakland.
President Willers served 9 years as principal of St. John School in SF (2001-2010). During that time, the school received the 2003 Innovation in Technology Award (12 schools in the nation) and his Advisory Board was awarded the NCEA Outstanding Board Award in 2009. Under his leadership at the School of the Madeleine (2010-2018), the school’s Advisory Board received the NCEA’s ‘Lead Learn Proclaim Award’ in 2016. In recognition of his innovation with technology integration and visionary leadership style, he was honored with the 2016 Exemplary Leadership Award from the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) as well as the NCEA’s Leadership Award in 2017. In October of 2017 Ken was honored by the NAESP with the National Distinguished Principal Award in Washington, DC (one of three Catholic school principals in the nation along with 1 public school principal from each state). In addition to his administrative role, President Willers serves on the Board of Directors for Salesian College Preparatory and The Procedo Project. Since 2005, he has served as a Regional Representative, and Executive Mentor, and an Advisory Consultant for the NCEA’s Department of Professional Learning. He continues to offer his insights and expertise regarding Catholic education as national speaker, presenter, and author for Catholic educators, the NCEA, and for dioceses across the country. He is well-known to many on Twitter as @21stCenPresKW
Mrs. Julie Derucki
Mrs. Derucki has spent over 30 years teaching and working exclusively in Catholic schools in Indiana, Florida, and Georgia. She has taught both elementary and middle school grades, with 11 consecutive years teaching 4th grade. Mrs. Derucki also served in administrative positions, including Principal, Dean of Students, and Dean of Academics. She is an active member of the National Catholic Education, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and Association for Middle Level Education. Mrs. Derucki was nominated by parents for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution (AJC) Teacher of the Year in 2002 and Disney’s Teacher of the Year in 2003. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education from Ball State University, graduate courses in Educational Leadership from Indiana University-Purdue University Institute, and a Master of Science in Education with honors from Spring Hill College, Mobile, AL. She has completed Level 3 Administrative Training for the International Baccalaureate. Mrs. Derucki was one of the initial faculty of Notre Dame Academy, beginning with the foundation in 2005.
Mrs. Smith has over 23 years of experience in both private and public schools, teaching Pre-K3- 8th grade. She has also worked as an Early Intervention Teacher at various schools in Georgia, including Findley Oaks Elementary in Duluth, Georgia where she was named Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Smith has also been nominated for the Braves Teacher of the Year Award and has taught both advanced students and students in need of additional assistance. Mrs. Smith has held various Leadership roles throughout her years of teaching as well as piloting a special program at the Primrose School of Christopher Robin that combined Kindergarten and 1st grade. She was formerly the PYP and Curriculum Coordinator as well as Middle School Learning Specialist before being named Lower and Middle School Principal at Notre Dame Academy. Mrs. Smith was named Teacher of the Year at Notre Dame Academy in 2013. She has her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from the University of Georgia and her master’s degree in teaching from Piedmont College. Mrs. Smith has completed the IB Self- Study and SAIS/SACS Accreditation for Notre Dame Academy, as well as served as a site visitor for SAIS/SACS. Her professional development includes training in: Fountas and Pinnell Reading Program, Math Solutions training, Level 1, 2 and 3 IB certification, Project Zero, Critical Friends Groups, Design Thinking, Universal Design for Learning and various other trainings.
Ms. Kitty Costello
Assistant Principal, Upper School
Ms. Costello has been involved in Catholic education for over 30 years. She has taught all grades from Kindergarten through 12thgrade and has also worked in administration as an academic dean, assistant principal, and principal in Boston, Chicago, St. Louis, and Houston before coming to Georgia four years ago. In addition, Ms. Costello has spent time In Uganda teaching English as a second language and leading teacher training in Haiti. Ms. Costello holds a BA in Mathematics from the University of Michigan and MEd from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She also has extensive studies in Theology from Boston College. In addition, Ms. Costello holds certification in Educational Administration from St. Thomas University in Houston. She is also a member of the National Catholic Educational Association, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum. Ms. Costello has completed Level 1 training for IB mathematics and coordinator training for Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (PBIS). She was also the recipient of the Georgia Independent School Association (GISA) award for service in Catholic Education in 2018 and the Archdiocesan Teacher of the Year for Notre Dame Academy in 2020.
Mrs. Kelly Pizzarelli
Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid
Mrs. Pizzarelli has over ten years of experience at Notre Dame Academy. After serving in many other roles, she now serves as the Director of Enrollment and Financial Aid. Prior to her time at Notre Dame Academy, she worked for Anderson Consulting in the Logistics Division before starting her family. She then stayed home with her children and started two businesses out of her home during these years. All three of Mrs. Pizzarelli’s children have attended Notre Dame Academy. Her youngest son started the year Notre Dame opened in Pre-K3 and is now a senior in the 2nd graduating class of 2020. Mrs. Pizzarelli is originally from Alton, Illinois, where she attended Lewis & Clark College.