NORTH ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO – August 13, 2014 – Principals, teachers, pastors and parents are in the "Back to School" spirit as the eight Catholic elementary schools located in the Northeast Deanery of the Archdiocese of St. Louis open their doors to students and their bright, smiling faces for the 2014-15 school year.
While students were enjoying swimming pools and lazy summer days, schools have been doing their annual summer cleaning and planning. St. Angela Merici School, for example, installed a new technology lab with 30 computer stations ready to enhance student learning. The school also received hand-carved crucifixes as a gift from a closed city school, engraved with "Through Christ our Lord," which is the theme the school has adopted for the coming year.
As the new school year begins, several leaders are settling in to their new roles within the deanery. Three parishes are welcoming new pastors: Father Tim Henderson at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Msgr. Matthew Mitas at St. Angela Merici Parish and School, and Father Tom Haley at St. Ferdinand Parish & School. St. Norbert School has a new principal, Mr. Dave Watkins and assistant principal, Ms. Julie Hayes.
Mr. Kenneth Morr, principal at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne School will now serve as the principal representative for the Federation, replacing Ms. Lois Vollmer, principal at Sacred Heart School who had this role for the past two years. Father Mike Henning, pastor at
Holy Name of Jesus Parish, will be interim pastor representative for the Federation.
"For almost 10 years leaders in Catholic education have sustained a renewed commitment to the value of Catholic schools in our community," said Father Henning. "A faith-based and values-based education reinforces the work of community and business leaders in their responsibility for thriving cities and healthy neighborhoods."
Continuing collaborative programs of the Federation include Professional Learning Teams
(PLTs) Teachers from all eight schools gather regularly throughout the school year, by grade level in lower grades and by subject area in the upper grades. Principals are observing a positive impact from their teachers’ participation in PLTs. "Our Lady of Guadalupe is definitely a better school because of our faculty's participation in the PLTs," said Peggy O'Brien, principal at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School. "The PLTs provide a network for the teachers where they can share ideas, successes and challenges with one another, providing a source of encouragement and problem-solving that did not previously exist for our teachers. Over the past few years this has brought a new level of excellence to our classrooms." CatholicFIT
, a fitness education and wellness program that was piloted in the 6th grade physical education classes last year will return in the spring to help students and their families connect their faith and Christian values with tools and techniques for becoming more healthy and fit. The program was developed by St. Ferdinand parishioner, Dave Reddy, who is a health and physical fitness expert and consults with the physical education teachers in their PLT on the development of this program curriculum.
"Because of the Federation, administrators and their faculties of our schools are becoming stronger leaders and more effective educators," said Father Henning. Their commitment to curriculum development and methods of teaching, to collaboration in professional development, and to the stewardship of the resources available for the operation of our schools is worthy of praise and much community support."
Financially, hundreds of students in Federation schools continue to benefit from the archdiocesan Alive in Christ Scholarship Program, which offers scholarships of $1,000-$2,000 based on financial need to students entering a Catholic elementary school in the Archdiocese in Kindergarten - 4th grade, as well as to those students currently enrolled in a Catholic school whose families qualify. Each school can provide additional details for how to apply for the scholarships, and more information is available at www.archstl.org/ttef.