Bell-Jeff principal to step down

The long-time principal of Burbank’s Bellarmine-Jefferson High School will step down at the end of the academic year.

Sr. Cheryl Milner has been at the helm of the 300-student Catholic school since 1997, a job she took on after a nine-year stint as principal at St. Monica Catholic High School in Santa Monica.

Milner declined to elaborate on her decision to leave, saying only that several opportunities had come her way and the timing was right. She also demurred on future plans, stating that she is focusing on facilitating a smooth transition of leadership.

“I have had a few years in this capacity — loved every bit of it — but there is a time for everything, as they say,” Milner said.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has already set in motion the process of replacing Milner and hopes to announce the new principal by the end of the school year, said archdiocesan spokesman Tod Tamberg.

“Bell-Jeff is a very strong school with an excellent reputation and we expect to have several strong candidates apply for the principal position,” Tamberg said.

Milner said she was attracted to religious life while attending Holy Names High School in Oakland, a Catholic girls' school run by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. The order has its roots in France, and is dedicated to education.

At Bellarmine-Jefferson, Milner focused on expanding curriculum and increasing the number of advanced placement courses. She has also been a staunch supporter of high school sports. She fostered the Bellarmine-Jefferson athletic department — the girls’ basketball team won the state championship in 2009 — and served on the governing board of the CIF Southern Division, including as president from 2008 to 2010.

“I am definitely a believer that [athletics] is the second dimension of education,” Milner said. “There is the classroom and then there is the field or gym.”

Among her proudest accomplishments has been the professional development of the teachers and staff at Bellarmine-Jefferson, she said.

“I think over the years the most wonderful memory is the great people I have worked with,” Milner said. “There are some teachers still here that were here when I came, but for the most part I have hired most of the faculty. What is fun is when they say, ‘You gave me my first job.’”

Dennis Ryan, a Bellarmine-Jefferson economics teacher who has worked closely with Milner for more than a decade, said that she will be missed.

“I think she is really a smart individual, and very capable.” Ryan said. “She was in charge of CIF for a period of time, only the second woman to have that position. I am very fond of her.”

And Vice Principal Colby Boysen said Milner was a guiding presence to all of her staff.

“A lot of what I have learned about what it means to be an effective leader and delegator, I have learned from her,” Boysen said. “Personally, she has been a mentor, a friend, a huge support system for me. A lot of things have grown quite wonderfully under her guidance and leadership.”

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