Meet Our Administration

The MPS administrative team (left to right): Ed Curtin, President; Deborah Laughlin, Principal; Paul Cancilla, Assistant Principal/Academic Dean; and Tom Rinke, Assistant Principal/Dean of Operations.

Led by president Ed Curtin, the administrative team at Mercyhurst Prep is the personification of what it means to be a Laker. Their dedication to making each decision in the spirit of the Mercy charism is unwavering.

Principal Debbie Laughlin and assistant principals Paul Cancilla and Tom Rinke form a natural bond with kids and strive to be flexible enough to tailor the programs within a system that has collective requirements to suit their needs, ever mindful of the delicate balance between policy and mercy.

Ed Curtin


Mr. Curtin has over 25 years of teaching experience in the Theology Department. He has spent almost his entire career at MPS. Mr. Curtin received a Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies/ Religious Education from Gannon University. Mr. Curtin served MPS as assistant principal from June 2011 until his appointment as president in July 2015. He was named a Golden Apple teacher in 2008.

In addition, Mr. Curtin served as MPS Athletic Director. He was an adjunct instructor in the Religious Studies Department at Mercyhurst College, and served as the Youth Minister / Confirmation Director at St. Julia’s parish in the Diocese of Erie.

Deborah Zera-Laughlin


Deborah Zera-Laughlin has 39 years of experience in education and 37 years at Mercyhurst Prep. Ms. Zera-Laughlin received her Master of Arts from Middlebury College and holds Pennsylvania certification.

During her tenure at Mercyhurst Prep, Ms. Zera-Laughlin has held the positions of Spanish teacher, chair of the world language department, master teacher, member of the curriculum development / renewal leadership team, internal coordinator for Middle States accreditation, chair of academic council, academic dean, and dean of discipline for 11th and 12th grades. Ms. Zera-Laughlin is a former adjunct professor at Mercyhurst College.

Ms. Zera-Laughlin has been awarded the outstanding faculty service award. She has published Incarnating Charism into a School’s Way of Life, Momentum: The Official Journal of the National Catholic Educational Association; and Using Learning Style to Combat Attrition in Second Language Learning, The Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association Bulletin Vol. LXVI. Ms. Zera-Laughlin has been a presenter at the Conference of the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association.

Paul Cancilla
Assistant Principal, Academic Dean


Mr. Cancilla has 29 years of experience in education and 21 years at Mercyhurst Prep. Mr. Cancilla received his Master’s degree in English. He became Mercyhurst Prep’s Assistant Principal in June 2009.

Mr. Cancilla participates in the International Baccalaureate program as Theory of Knowledge instructor and Extended Essay supervisor.

Cancilla won the University of Chicago Outstanding Teacher Award in 2008. He is a past fellow of the NWPA Summer Writing Institute and a former adjunct instructor at Gannon University.

Tom Rinke
Assistant Principal, Director of Operations


Mr. Rinke most recently served as assistant superintendent for the Wattsburg Area School District from 2009-2014. Rinke was principal at Seneca High School from 2000-2009 and principal at Conneaut School District from 1995-2000.

Rinke holds a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Secondary School Administration, a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Elementary School Administration, a Master’s of Science in Education, all from Edinboro University. He earned a B.S. in biology and a Secondary Education Teaching Certificate from Mercyhurst University and a Superintendent Letter of Eligibility from Youngstown State University.

Additionally, he is a member of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals, the Pennsylvania Association of School Personnel Administrators and the Pennsylvania Association of Federal Programs Coordinators.

Rinke is a 1981 graduate of Mercyhurst Preparatory School.