As the new academic year begins, six Catholic schools in the Diocese of Phoenix welcome new leaders.
Leslie Barasha hails from the East coast, growing up in the city of Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She attended Catholic elementary, high school and college, graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from King’s College and a master’s in professional counseling. She is currently working on a master’s in education at the University of Mary through the Diocese of Phoenix. Barasha put her professional counseling degree to work becoming the first school counselor at Saint Jerome Catholic School more than 20 years ago.
Barasha and her husband, Jim, recently celebrated their 33rd wedding anniversary with a trip to Jamaica with their three adult children. Daughters Bryn and Madison and son, Griffin all graduated from Saint Jerome Catholic School and have established successful careers. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling to adventurous parts of the country.
Jim Bopp returns to Brophy as principal after six years as principal at Creighton Prep in Omaha, Neb., another all boys Catholic, Jesuit school. When he was first at Brophy between 2005-2016, he was a physics teacher, robotics coach, department chair, dean of students, and assistant principal. Prior to that, he earned a degree in physics from Truman State University in Missouri and an MA in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis.
He is a member of St. Francis Xavier Parish, and he and his wife, Mandy, have a son at Brophy and two children at St. Francis Xavier Elementary School.
Brie Dragonetti began her educational career at Notre Dame Prep (NDP) in 2008 as a coach and student teacher. She was the pom coach from 2008 to 2012. After completing her bachelor’s program in 2011, she taught stretch and pilates at NDP.
Dragonetti decided to pursue master’s in Education after graduating in 2011. She chose to work on her program while teaching dance, speech and debate and serving as the director of spiritline at Desert Edge High School. Dragonetti moved to Higley High School in 2014 to be closer to home. During her time at Higley, she taught dance, worked with students on credit recovery programs, and was the director of spiritline. Dragonetti returned to NDP in 2017 as the Dean of Women and served in this role for three years. During her time as Dean of Women, she completed her second master’s in educational leadership. She became the Assistant Principal of Student Services in 2020, a role she excelled at for three years. She was announced as Principal of Notre Dame Preparatory on April 3, 2023.
Dragonetti and her husband, Greg, and have two sons, Rocco and Nicco, who both attend St. John Bosco Catholic School in Ahwatukee, where she also attended school as a child.
Dr. Wendy Horning completed her master’s degree in Elementary Education with a Reading Specialist endorsement and graduated in July of 2020, from University of Phoenix with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership – Concentration: Curriculum and Instruction, while also teaching sixth grade math and science full time.
Dr. Horning and her husband, Patrick, have been married for nearly 30 years, have five grown children, and four grandsons. She loves working with teachers to help students achieve their best Catholic selves and looks forward to serving the SSJ community in her new Catholic journey.
Thomas Sorci is beginning his 16th year as a Catholic School principal. He is returning to Arizona where he holds K-12 principal certification to lead San Francisco de Asis school in Flagstaff. He began his career as principal of St. Michael Indian School in St. Michaels, Ariz., founded by St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Sorci has spent the past five years in Norwich, N.Y., as principal of Holy Family School in the Diocese of Syracuse.
Sorci is excited to begin the school year with strong enrollment numbers and a dedicated faculty and staff. His goal is to strengthen enrollment, improve academics and build upon the outstanding Catholic identity of SFdA.
During his free time, Sorci enjoys mountain biking and spending time with his grandchildren.
Nicole Walsh was born and raised in Southern Indiana and graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati, in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in biology. While in college, she realized that her passion is Catholic education. As someone who attended Catholic schools all her life, Walsh whole-heartedly believes in the mission and wanted to be a part of it. She began the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) Teaching Fellows program in 2014, where she earned a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame while teaching fourth grade at St. John Vianney Catholic School in Goodyear, Ariz. Upon completion of the Teaching Fellows program, Walsh began the Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program through ACE, and earned a master’s in educational leadership from the University of Notre Dame in 2019.
Walsh has enjoyed teaching at Most Holy Trinity Catholic School for the past seven years and is humbled and honored to be the new principal of the school. She is looking forward to continuing the mission of “forming disciples who joyfully learn, love, and lead,” into the future.