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November 2017

Federation of Catholic Schools
United and 
Alive in Christ
News from the North County
Federation of Catholic Schools

Extending the Reach of St. Mary’s Special Services: New Early Intervention Program Helps More Students in North County

Students at six north county Catholic preschools and elementary schools now have access to the services of a social worker and a speech-language pathologist during their regular school day.  About 18 months ago, the Department of Special Education in the Archdiocese Catholic Education Office began planning for the future of its St. Mary’s Special Services Day Care and Preschool, which had been serving children 6 weeks to 5 years old as an inclusionary day care program located next door to Trinity Catholic High School.  Dr. Cathy Johns, who oversees the Department of Special Education, said the goal was to increase the reach of the special education services that St. Mary’s can provide.  “Our mission is to help each student reach his/her God-given potential,” said Dr. Johns. “We saw a great opportunity to connect with the Catholic elementary schools in north county in order to serve the students already enrolled in Catholic education who may need some early intervention services.” 

The decision was to move from a site-based approach to a community service provider model, and so the daycare and preschool closed at the end of June 2017. When the new school year began in August 2017, St. Mary’s Special Services began its new Early Intervention program at six schools: Christ Light of the Nations, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Holy Spirit, St. Ann, St. Norbert, and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. As a standalone daycare and preschool, St. Mary’s had served between 35-50 children each year, with about 25% of those requiring special early intervention services.  By going into these six schools, the program has already enabled early intervention screenings for over 250 children and is providing special education services to over 60 children, and counting.

Carol McCandless, who served as the director of the preschool for 19 years, is now bringing her expertise in social work to reach more children in Catholic schools in north county, connecting them with outside agencies and resources. By moving from the site-specific program to a community-based service provider in several schools, St. Mary’s Special Services now screens students to help identify early needs, provides services to students who qualify, and connects students and their families with the resources they need to be successful in school.

“This program is blossoming,” said McCandless. “We have felt very welcomed at the schools, and the teachers and students are responding well to our presence.  It’s rewarding to be able to reach many more students than we could when we were at only one site.” 

Classroom teachers now have an on-site resource to address student needs as they arise. McCandless has worked with teachers to screen students using a Student Risk Screening Scale (SRSS-IE), which uses a simple rating scale on a student’s internal and external behaviors that may indicate a student’s need for extra support. McCandless can then consult with parents and guardians and work with students during the regular school day, giving them tools to self-regulate thoughts and feelings and referring them to additional services and support as needed. McCandless is currently working weekly with approximately 30 students at the six schools, and is available for consultation as needed. 

In addition to social work, St. Mary’s Special Services brings speech-language pathology services to classrooms. Allison Hill, Speech Language Pathologist, spent the first quarter of the school year screening preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade and some 2nd grade students at the six schools. The screening is for speech (production of sounds), language (cognitive understanding and use) and fluency.  Of the 230 students who were screened, 45 were referred for further evaluation and others will be monitored and re-screened in the spring. Hill is now providing individual and group therapy sessions to address the students’ needs identified in the screening.  “We use Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for each student, and since I’m now on-site at each school twice per week, I have the opportunity to more easily connect with the students and their teachers,” said Hill.  “It feels great to know that we are already helping more students than we could before. Being in the same building with more students who need our services makes it easier to intervene early.”

Ms. Hill has put together a quick list of activities parents can use at home to encourage speech and language development with their children.  Click here to download the PDF.

These early intervention screening and therapy services are provided at no cost to families and are in addition to those they may also be receiving from other agencies or the public school districts. St. Mary’s Special Services Early Intervention Program is funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal and United Way of Greater St. Louis, with no charge to participating schools for this first year.  Dr. Johns is exploring funding options for future years including the possibility of additional grants and some financial commitment from participating schools.

The Department of Special Education also operates the Academy at St. Sabina in north county, which is a K-8 elementary school for children whose learning disabilities, attention deficits, or other cognitive processing deficits require an alternate setting to experience educational success other than the general education classroom.

For more information about the Catholic Education Office’s Department of Special Education, visit

Free Community Thanksgiving Day Dinner at 
St. Ferdinand Parish
SFTDinnerVolunteerFlyer 090417

From Slave to Priest
Nov. 29 7pm at Trinity Catholic High School

Federation News & Notes
November has been a busy month for meetings. Principals and pastors met for the quarterly meeting of the Federation of Catholic Schools on Wednesday, Nov. 8th. Teachers and principals gathered at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta School for Professional Learning Teams - these continue to be a wonderful network for teachers to share and collaborate.  The principals gathered again on Nov. 16 for their Region Meeting to hear updates from the Catholic Education Office.  We are thankful for the hard work of our leaders!

Thank God for Parents! 
Our Church and Pope Francis recognize the awesome role parents play in passing on the faith to their children. To support parents in this vocation, St. Ann and Holy Trinity Parishes and Schools are working together to prepare a program similar to Parents as Teachers, but with a faith focus. Persons of strong faith who have had experience working with children are being trained to visit homes to accompany parents and share approaches to raising happy, virtuous and faith-filled children. A pilot program will run from late January, 2018 through May, 2018, beginning with parents of children 24 – 36 months old. Sr. Maureen Martin, ASCJ, Program Coordinator, is also looking for parents, grandparents or educators who may want information on serving as home facilitators (or visitors). For more about this exciting faith-filled program, please contact Sr. Maureen at St. Ann: 314-450-4873 or email  This program was made possible by a Beyond Sunday grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri.

Updates on 
New Partnership School 
The principals and pastors at St. Ferdinand, St. Norbert and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Schools have been working closely with the Director of North County Elementary Schools to move forward with the new Partnership School for the 2018-19 school year.  A Parent Advisory Committed is meeting regularly, and names of the memers of the new board of directors have been submitted to Archbishop Carlson.  Stay tuned! Information and updates will be posted to this web page: as more details about the new school become available.  


Thanksgiving Blessings to Everyone from the 13 parishes and 10 schools in our Federation of Catholic Schools.  We give thanks for all the priests, deacons, principals, teachers, staff, parishioners, parents and students in our north county community who make all of our schools wonderful places for growing in knowledge and our relationship with Jesus Christ!
Upcoming Events 
Looking for faith formation opportunities or a fun night out with friends? Browse the parish bulletins for a wealth of information about events and activities that our parishes and schools are hosting in the coming weeks. You can access each parish's weekly bulletin online through these links.

A Few Highlighted Events:
Nov. 28: Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish Mens Club welcomes Father Christopher Martin to speak on  “Reflecting on God’s active presence in our lives as seen in Joseph’s journey.”

Nov. 29: Tolton: From Slave to Priest, 7pm at Trinity Catholic High School

Dec. 1: Fried Chicken Dinner at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne School 4-7p

Dec. 2: Several Schools Hosting Breakfast with Santa – check bulletins for details

Dec. 1-2: Robotics Competition hosted at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne School

Dec. 3: First Sunday of Advent - stay tuned for opportunities for prayer and reflection available at all north county parishes during Advent

Dec. 6: An evening of scripture, song and reflection with David Kauffman at Sacred Heart Church in Florissant. 7pm

Dec. 6: WHO is coming? WHO is waiting? Advent Speaker Series 7pm at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne featuring Dr. Javier Orozco and Ecumenical Evening Prayer

Dec. 9: Breakfast With Santa at Holy Name of Jesus Parish Center – sponsored by youth group

Dec. 10: Annual Advent by Candlelight – Ladies of Holy Spirit Parish and their families and friends – learn more details in Holy Spirit Parish Bulletin (p. 6).

Dec. 12: Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe – details and times are listed at

Spread the Word! Follow our Schools and Parishes on Facebook

Many of our Federation schools and parishes are becoming more active on social media, especially Facebook.  Please consider "Liking" these pages on Facebook and sharing their posts when something may be of interest to your network! You can also catch a glimpse of the many great academic programs and service opportunities that our Catholic school students engage in throughout their days!

Think about why you choose (or chose if you have alumni) a Catholic school for your children. Share your thoughts on social media or simply in conversation with friends and family members.
    And, most importantly, PRAY for our students, teachers, principals, pastors, parishioners and all who support Catholic education in our community.

    Other North County Catholic institutions are also on Facebook - be sure to follow them, too!
    Know of someone who would be interested in hearing about our Catholic Schools?  Forward this message to a friend and invite them to join our e-mail list. 
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