FROM THE DESK OF SR. MARY GRACE
Dear Saint James School Families,
Greetings in Christ! As we enter the most beautiful days of autumn, I find myself in awe that we are already a quarter of the way through the school year. The weeks have been so full of learning and growth. We are grateful for all you do to help your students come to school ready to learn and for your communication with their teachers, which fosters the teamwork necessary for quality education.
I have enjoyed getting to know many of you over these past weeks, whether at the Open House, Community Picnic, Coffee with the Principal, a personal meeting, or just waving as you drive by in the carline. I have learned that our community is one of the best parts of SJS, and I am so grateful we can be back together in these important ways.
Along with the gift of a strong community, I have come to recognize the faculty and staff’s deep desire to provide the most excellent education possible for your children. As part of their professional growth plan, the faculty have recently submitted their yearly goals, which are aligned with our school-wide goals of strengthening Catholic identity, increasing student engagement, and focusing on student growth demonstrated on the MAP tests. To further support our school improvement efforts, the Archdiocese recently unveiled a new process for developing annual School Improvement Plans based on the National Standards and Benchmarks of Catholic Schools (NSBCS). These standards clearly describe what a Catholic School is called to be. This process will be driven by a new SJS School Leadership Team, composed of a core group of administrators, faculty and staff, with input from the entire faculty and the School Board.
Over the next month, we will be conducting a self-assessment using the NSBCS, identifying areas of strength and needed growth, and identifying goals and strategies for the year. We will keep you abreast of our progress as our School Improvement Plan comes to fruition. I am confident this process will strengthen SJS as we reflect on who God is calling us to be NOW in order to prepare our students to meet the challenges of our time.
This past week, the entire School Board met for an orientation and opening meeting. The ex-officio members, committee chairs, and all committee members were treated to a talk by Dr. Mary Beth Bowling, superintendent of schools, on the nature and purpose of a Catholic school’s advisory school board. Seven new committee members have been nominated and accepted a place on one of our five committees. We are working to re-engage the committees to strengthen key areas of our school, including:
Policy and planning
Building and grounds
Marketing and advancement
Health and safety
The committees will meet regularly outside our monthly School Board meetings to report on progress. You may stay updated on the School Board’s work this year by visiting their page on our website. I am grateful to our Chair, Kevin Blain, for his leadership and organization, and all the dedicated members of our Board. At the end of our meeting, Dr. Bowling commented that Saint James has one of the most impressive groups of members, and we could be held up as an example in the Archdiocese!
Lastly, I want to update you on some changes to our Admissions timeline for the 2023-2024 school year. The Catholic Education Foundation recently notified us that the timeline for tuition assistance applications has changed and will open on Oct. 15. We encourage our current families to apply as early as possible. Because of this change, we decided to update the timeline for our new family application process. Previously, we began taking new family applications for the following school year in late February. This year, we will open applications for new families on Nov. 1 and allow them to begin applying (but not enrolling).
Applications for new families will remain open throughout the spring. We will begin accepting/enrolling new students for the 2023-2024 school year in April of 2023, once we have an idea of how many students will be returning. We will then make our acceptance decisions based on our admissions criteria and the number of empty seats in each grade. Re-enrollment for our current families will not change. We will still provide current families with the first opportunity to enroll their child(ren) for the next school year in mid-February.
I wanted to make you aware of this change as you will begin to see social media ads regarding new student applications throughout October and November. I’ve learned that the best marketing strategy is word of mouth! Please help spread the word about SJS to families who may be a good fit for our school so we can continue growing. Thank you!
As we move into the second quarter of the school year, let us continue working together as a community of faith, striving for excellence, with Christ as our model. He is our way, our truth and our life. May we look to Him for comfort in every sorrow and gratitude for every joy!
Know of my prayers for your families.
Gratefully in Christ,
Sister Mary Grace Watson, O.P.