Geibel principal 'humbled' by national award
For Leechburg resident Don Favero, the 100-mile, round-trip journey to work each day is worth it in order to help mold young minds.
Favero, 63, is the principal of Geibel Catholic High School in Connellsville, Fayette County. The school was recently named one of the top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation by the Cardinal Newman Society's Catholic High School Honor Roll.
“I'm very humbled by this award,” said Favero, who formerly worked in the Deer Lakes School District for 34 years. “We've always been set on being one of the best schools we can be.
“I don't know how you could ask someone to pay tuition to go to a school and aim to be just mediocre,” he said. “Even if you don't make it, you're going to be higher than you ever would have been if you didn't try.”
Favero's journey to Geibel Catholic started while growing up down the street from the now-closed St. Catherine's Church with his parents, Dom and Stella.
“My mother was a real Medieval Catholic,” he said. “She would decorate our dining room table for every saint's day.
“Since we lived so close to the church, my mother taught a lot of the nuns to drive,” added Favero, who still lives in the house in which he grew up. “We'd have the nuns and priests over for dinner a lot.
“Anytime someone wouldn't show up to serve (as an altar boy for Mass), I'd have to run over there and do it.”
Favero said the most important years of his formation into an educator came while he was a student at the University of Notre Dame.
“I went there a kid and left a young adult,” he said. “Those four years were the most formative years of my life.”
Favero said he tries to promote at Geibel the atmosphere of learning he experienced at Notre Dame.
“When you're at Geibel, like Notre Dame, you walk into a classroom where everyone wants you to succeed,” he said. “There's no one putting you down; everyone is trying to lift you up.”
According to the Cardinal Newman Society, schools are judged by three criteria: Catholic identity, academics and civic education.
Favero said Geibel tries to incorporate those characteristics into its teachings to about 175 students.
“The lowest level of study here is college prep,” he said. “We have college prep and advanced college prep.
“One hundred percent of our students go to college,” he added. “We do all of this while wrapping it in the teachings of Jesus Christ.”
Favero said there has been little adjustment to working in Connellsville.
“Fayette County and Armstrong County are very similar,” he said. “They're both comprised of very hard-working people and devout Catholics.”
As for his hourlong commute each day, Favero has a trick to passing the time.
“I listen to a lot of classic rock on the radio,” he said. “Whenever you get into my car, it's like going back to the 1960s.”
R.A. Monti is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.