Johnstown Catholic Schools Announce Leadership Team


The Bishop McCort Catholic High School Board of Trustees and the Divine Mercy Catholic Academy (DMCA) Board of Directors today announced the selection of their new and respective leadership teams. As partners in the region’s Catholic school community, the teams are working together to provide innovative, consistent and seamless educational experiences for students from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 12.

“These changes have been adopted with the support of both the Bishop McCort and DMCA boards, and Diocesan representatives,” said Tim Clark, chair of the Bishop McCort Board of Trustees. “Without question, this collaboration signals a renewed era of cooperation and partnership between our Catholic schools. We’re all working together toward common goals, which is great news for our schools, our students and their families, and the community.”

In late 2018, after more than 35 years in education, Mr. Tom Fleming announced he will retire as Bishop McCort’s principal and chief administrative officer (CAO) in June. A few weeks later, the Bishop McCort Board began a thoughtful and comprehensive process to identify qualified candidates to lead the school into the future.  After completing a thorough and months-long search, they have selected Tom Smith, currently principal of DMCA, to serve as the school’s new principal. He will also oversee a growing partnership between DMCA and Bishop McCort in the new position of Chief Administrative Officer for PreKindergarten – Grade 12. In this role, he will continue to provide weekly strategic counsel to DMCA.

Mr. Smith, a graduate of St. Benedict School and Bishop McCort, brings nearly 25 year of educational experience to the job, including leadership roles that enabled his former schools and school districts to earn the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Student Growth; NAACP Award for Promoting Tolerance and Relationship Building; two U.S. News and World Report Best High Schools – Bronze Level recognitions; and multiple Pennsylvania Department of Education Keystone Academic Achievement Awards. At DMCA, he launched the schools’ STREAM initiative, introduced new levels of professional development to DMCA faculty, and endorsed an array of classroom and extracurricular activities that challenge students to think critically, creatively and collaboratively.

Stephen Cotchen will continue to serve as Assistant Principal at Bishop McCort, where he will be involved in faculty oversight, faculty professional development, Dean of Student activities, enrollment/admissions and facilities management.  He will also work closely with DMCA Middle School operations.

At DMCA, Matt Ribblett, a certified teacher at DMCA, will also assume responsibilities as DMCA’s Dean of Students for all students from Pre-Kindergarten through grade 8. In this new role, he will focus on PreK-8 improvements and school operations. As the primary liaison to families and the voice of DMCA, he will also collaborate with DMCA’s East, West and Middle School teams and families to continue building exceptional learning environments for every student. Mr. Ribblett will complete his Masters of Arts in Education and earn Principal Certification from Point Park University in August.

Mary Jo Podratsky and Rose Batzel will continue to serve as Associate Principals of DMCA East and West campuses, respectively.

“Tom is a tremendous asset to Divine Mercy and Bishop McCort,” said Kathleen Martella-Zucco, chair of the DMCA Board of Directors.  “He understands the importance of supporting each other and creating synergies. Under his leadership, our teachers have had more opportunities for professional development and he has enhanced our curriculum across all subject areas.  By bringing this same energy and commitment to Bishop McCort, he’ll help strengthen Catholic education in our community for years to come.”

Reflecting the cooperative relationship between the schools, Smith will continue to serve as a resource to DMCA to ensure the seamless and coordinated implementation of its new leadership structure.

To learn more about Bishop McCort and DMCA, visit and