What a year it has been! We have all experienced a multitude of “firsts” and “unprecedented” happenings yet here we are, closing out one school year and preparing to move forward into the next.
Last week, Thursday and Friday, we celebrated the academic accomplishments of our 8th Grade students by conducting a Baccalaureate/Graduation Mass and then a “Drive-In Movie” style graduation ceremony. Thursday morning’s Mass was live-streamed and included readings by staff, announcement of awards, and a beautifully composed Homily by Father Ismael.
Friday’s graduation was wonderful! It included our graduates in their gowns, a procession by the faculty, music, scrolling pictures of the graduates on a 9’ x 16’ screen, pre-recorded Salutatorian and Valedictorian addresses, announcements of awards, short bios of each graduate, recognition of the room parent and PACE President, recognition of families who were graduating their last child, and the presentation of diplomas. Each graduate received their diploma, walked up on the stage and had their picture taken. The parking lot was full of cars, balloons, honking, music and good wishes. A true celebration! A special thank you to Father Ismael for all of his support, Father Rafal who live-streamed the event, Mr. McDonough, Miss Ferber, and the rest of our staff for their countless hours of preparation to make this happen.
On Friday morning, our Kindergarten class also celebrated with their own “Drive-In Movie” style graduation to celebrate their accomplishment of moving up to 1st grade. They too were in their caps and gowns. We had music, pictures and a short bio of each graduate to include what they wanted to be when they grow up! So very sweet! Upon receipt of their diplomas they had their pictures taken on the stage followed by more honking!! This event was also live-streamed and reports are that families from as far away as the Philippines and Canada were able to celebrate this wonderful day with their family and friends.
This past week we completed our course of instruction, turned in textbooks, picked up personal belongings, exchanged a fist shake or an elbow bump here and there, and set off to enjoy summer vacation. Without a doubt YOU (families, students and faculty alike) deserve it! Enjoy!
Over the next week, faculty will be closing out their classrooms and participating in meetings to discuss their experiences while engaged in the distance learning platform. As always, we strive to learn from past experiences so as to be able to provide the best education to our students.
Administratively we have already begun to prepare for what may be thrown our way even though we are not yet clear how next year will begin! Staff is working to process all of the online registrations, formulating lists of needed materials and setting up training in areas where training is needed. We have also been discussing changes that can be made so as to provide the highest quality and most comprehensive curriculum and educational experience for our students. After having had a year to critically evaluate our administrative structure, our curriculum, our delivery method and the strengths of our incredibly committed faculty, I feel we can still improve in several areas across the broad spectrum of our school structure. Some of these changes have already occurred during the 2019/2020 school year, while others will be implemented for the 2020/2021 school year.
In order to enhance the on-campus leadership for both staff and families I am pleased to announce that Miss Stephanie Marcinkowski will be our new Vice-Principal. She will continue to be the 4th grade homeroom teacher and Student Council moderator, and will take on the added responsibility of vice-principal to assist with the leadership of the school.
We have traditionally operated under a “Leadership Team” style of leadership but this has proven not to be as effective as anticipated. We are however not doing away with the Leadership Team concept. The Diocese has asked us to formulate a team to address issues of curriculum and procedures as it pertains to not only a normal learning platform but a distance learning platform as well. In the coming weeks we will be putting this team together. Its members will consist of representative staff from both lower and upper grades as well as those with the specific skill sets needed to guide both our school and community forward.
I am happy to announce that all homeroom teachers were offered contracts and each has accepted! The homeroom teachers for grades TK-5th grade will remain the same for the 2020/2021 school year. I am also happy to announce that we will be making a shift in our middle school teaching assignments for 2020/2021. While we have not yet determined all of the disciplines our middle school staff will be responsible for, we do know the following:
The homeroom teacher for 6th Grade will be Miss Karen McMillan.
The homeroom teacher for 7th Grade will be Mr. John McDonough (History 6th, 7th,8th).
The homeroom teacher for 8th grade will be Mrs. Emily Geislinger.
These changes have been made in an effort to better draw on the specific strengths of each instructor so as to maximize the educational foundation of our students.
We must never lose sight of the fact that our Roman Catholic values are at the core of who we are and what we try to accomplish at Saint Francis of Assisi School. To ensure that our faith-based values are integrated across ALL of our classes, including the 2nd grade Sacrament Program, I have asked Mrs. Julie Clement to take on the added responsibility of Faith Formation Lead.
Technology has, and continues to play a huge role in all that we do. In an effort to make sure that we stay on track and up to speed on all that is technology based, I have asked Miss Karen McMillan to continue on in her efforts as the Technology Lead for our campus.
Over the last year I have had an opportunity to assess our overall curriculum. While I am pleased with what we are doing in the way of Math, Science, Spanish, Physical Education and Religious Studies, I feel we have room for improvement in the areas of Literature and Writing. During our break we will be focusing on how to improve our course of instruction in these areas across all grade levels.
As mentioned earlier, we are in the process of evaluating the 2020/2021 registrations. Once we are able to determine enrollment, we will be revisiting our budget as it pertains to staffing our Instructional Assistant positions as well as the other positions lost due to the pandemic.
One big change that has already occurred is the moving of TK out of the Rossi House and into their new TK Classroom adjacent to Kindergarten in the gym building. This without a doubt, is a tremendous upgrade and fosters a much better learning environment for our littles!
Next year, our Extended Care Program will also move from the Rossi House and be administered out of the gym facility.
Our facility is clearly in need of a face lift. Years of normal weathering and usage has left our campus looking somewhat tired. We have begun to reach out to landscape contractors for ideas and estimates on sprucing things up a bit. Obviously much of this is budget dependent, so I will keep you updated on our plans and our progress.
Out of necessity, we were able to establish our online registration process. This has proven to be extremely efficient and will remain the means by which we conduct registration activities in the future. (Gentle reminder that Registration Contracts are due no later than 6/15/20). The platform and links will also be used to post other needed forms and information, so keep your eyes open for emails advising you of new information. Many thanks to Miss McMillan for working so hard to get this up and going. I am so very happy to announce that we have a waitlist for many classes, and will begin to reach out to the families on the 16th of June to fill spots for our classrooms.
I know that change is never easy and for some, not welcomed. However, I ask for your continued trust that these changes draw on the strengths of each individual faculty member and are necessary for Saint Francis of Assisi School to be able to provide the highest quality education possible for our students. I feel so blessed to have navigated this journey with all of you. The Saint Francis of Assisi School community is without question the strongest, most resilient and most loving community I have ever been a part of. It is clear to me that along with God’s grace our community can accomplish anything!
Rooted in Heart,