TAUNTON – Fall River Diocese Catholic School Superintendent Steve Perla has announced the appointment of Ellen Russell (in photo) as the new Academy’s Director of STEM Education. This appointment is in direct response to the overwhelming local and national need for a workforce that is well equipped for the “fourth industrial revolution.” Currently, there are about 7 million unfilled jobs in the United States as a result of the misalignment between workforce supply and industry demands[i].

Ellen Russell’s career as a lifelong science and robotics expert will provide the Academy with strategic guidance of implementing STEM related curricula at all schools benefitting from the Academy.  While the first step of this implementation will focus on Coyle and Cassidy High School and Middle School in Taunton as well as Bishop Connolly High School in Fall River, over time the emphasis of STEM education will be integrated into all of the Catholic schools in the Diocese of Fall River.  Research shows that a STEM curriculum fosters critical thinking skills while developing the ability to work collaboratively on project-based work.

Russell’s responsibilities will include providing ongoing teacher professional development as well as creating curriculum and instructional strategies for STEM education, initially for both Coyle and Cassidy and Bishop Connolly High Schools. She will also continue to work directly with students in the robotics and science Olympiad programs.

In addition, Russell will teach robotics, engineering, and computer science to grades 1 – 4, as well as leading the robotics team at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic elementary school in Taunton.  Previously, Russell worked as science teacher and department chairperson in both the Easton Public Schools and Westwood Public Schools.  In this capacity, she was responsible for the development of new curricula such as elementary school engineering, middle school technology, and forensic science.

“Our Diocese is very fortunate to have someone of Ellen’s caliber on staff to oversee the STEM curriculum at our amazing schools,” said a very enthusiastic Chris Myron, who is president of Coyle and Cassidy and Bishop Connolly Schools.   “Students who choose to pursue STEM related interests will be well-served by Ellen Russell’s guidance and direction.”

Kathy St. Laurent, principal of Coyle and Cassidy and Bishop Connolly Schools, further expresses, “Ellen is such a wonderful role model to students in middle school and high school who enjoy science and math and think they want to pursue a STEM related career. Her leadership in the Academy offers students unique access to a wealth of STEM related educational and career guidance.”

According to Russell, “I am so pleased to have the opportunity to work in the subjects that I have loved my entire life.  There are so many more opportunities for STEM-related careers than when I was younger.  I want to ensure that students in our Catholic schools are exposed to all of the exciting possibilities for a career – in many cases, a career that they previously may not have considered. This new role perfectly combines my passion for STEM and teaching children, I could not be more thrilled to join this wonderful team of educators!”

The Academy offers cutting edge, academically rigorous, individually tailored and Christ-centered programs for students which are unlike any other educational program opportunities in Massachusetts.  While the Academy will initially benefit Coyle and Cassidy High School and Middle School and Bishop Connolly High School, the goal is for all Diocese of Fall River Catholic schools to leverage the Academy’s programs and relationships.

The Catholic Schools Alliance comprises administrators, teachers, staff, parents and clergy joined in partnership to educate the children of the Diocese of Fall River in Catholic faith and values. Our schools have a demanding educational culture that helps students from across the academic spectrum reach their God-given potential. With an emphasis on service and respect for the dignity of every person, we prepare students to meet the challenges of today’s diverse world and become meaningful contributors to society.

[i] https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2019-05-22/how-to-prepare-for-the-fourth-industrial-revolution

Diocese of Fall River
Catholic Schools Alliance
423 Highland Avenue
Fall River, MA 02720
Sandi M. Duxbury, VP of Marketing and Corporate Partnerships


Reverendísimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
Reverendísimo Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., D.D.
The Bishop of Fall River