When St. Matthew School went looking for a new principal, it found one in its own community.
Tim Forbes, whose family was a founding member of the parish and whose two daughters attend St. Matthew School, has been hired as the principal to succeed Barby Magness, the school’s founding principal who is retiring.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” said Forbes, who will move to St. Matthew from his position as Dean of Student Life and Campus Ministry at Father Ryan High School. “I’ve had the opportunity as a parent to see first-hand how wonderful that community is.”
Leaving Father Ryan, where he graduated from in 1993 and has worked for the last nine years, is bittersweet, Forbes said. “Obviously, I have the support of the Father Ryan community, which was important to me,” he said. “They understood this was a great opportunity for my family.”
Forbes and his wife Ann have observed the school as parents. Their daughters Grace and Marie are in the sixth and fifth grades there.
“There were two things that really stood out for me,” Forbes said. “First, the academic rigor my children have gone through. … Second is the love and the care my children have received. … The faculty and staff at St. Matthew genuinely love and care for my children beyond the classroom.”
Magness has steered the school since it opened in 2001. The school grew more quickly than the parish had planned and began adding a second class to each grade in the fall of 2003, five years ahead of schedule. In the fall of 2005, St. Matthew completed an expansion of the school and parish, which included additional classrooms and a full gymnasium.
Forbes praised Magness for her leadership of the school. “She’s put that school in an amazing position,” he said. “She’s done some great things there.”
The school’s first graduates have recently graduated from college and have moved on to graduate schools and careers, Forbes noted. St. Matthew has alumni in medical school, the Peace Corps, physical therapy school and business school, he said, and graduates have come back to St. Matthew to help in parish ministries.
“That school is producing excellent young people,” Forbes said. “It’s producing students who are already making an impact not only in the Catholic community but the community at large.”
After graduating from Father Ryan, Forbes went on to Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., where he played lacrosse for four years and earned a degree in communications and political science. He then earned a master’s degree from Loyola University in New Orleans in pastoral studies with an emphasis on adolescent development.
While working for the Diocese of Charleston in South Carolina, Forbes completed 18 hours of graduate work toward a master’s degree in teaching from The Citadel. In 2004, he received the Light of Christ Award, the highest honor for any person within the Diocese of Charleston.
Forbes and his family returned to Nashville and Father Ryan in 2006. As Dean of Student Life and Campus Ministry his responsibility has been to oversee the Catholic identity of the school along with the school chaplain.
He’s also been a member of the school’s senior administrative team, which has given him the opportunity to be involved with other aspects of the school, such as helping to develop a five-year strategic plan for the school and with the accreditation process.
He’s also completed a fellowship in independent school leadership from Vanderbilt University.
Several years ago, Forbes said, he approached Father Ryan President Jim McIntyre, Principal Paul Davis and Vice Principal and Dean of Academics Sara Hayes about his desire to become an elementary school principal. They talked to him about how he could prepare for such a transition, Forbes said. “They’ve given me opportunities to grow.”
Working at an elementary school “would give me the opportunity to stay in Nashville and continue to work in education, continue to minister to families, and challenge me to grow in my own professional life and my own faith life,” Forbes said.
The types of relationships an elementary school principal has will be different than on the high school level, Forbes said. But both settings, he said, are opportunities to serve Christ by serving the students.
“You can see when there’s good teaching going on in the classroom,” he said. “To that end, the jump will not be as difficult.”
When the position at St. Matthew opened, “I had been praying about it,” Forbes said. “A lot of things lined up that felt like it was God’s call.”
“We are fortunate to have a person as principal who is so familiar with our community, so familiar with our mission and so committed to Catholic education,” said Father Mark Beckman, pastor of St. Matthew. “His work at Father Ryan over the last nine years has provided him opportunities for leadership and educational development that will benefit our students and faculty. We are excited to have an educator with such an exceptional combination of experience and ideas to lead our school.”
St. Matthew has an enrollment of about 420 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Enrollment at the school has been steady, but St. Matthew is competing for students with Williamson County public schools and other private schools in the area, Forbes said.
When he started working at Father Ryan nearly a decade ago, one of the challenges the school faced, Forbes said, was communicating its story to the community. St. Matthew is in a similar position, he said, and it needs to share its story of academic excellence and a strong Catholic identity.
Forbes will begin work as St. Matthew’s principal on June 1.