Principal’s Letter

Welcome back St. John families, 

This is the first formal NewsViews edition for the 2021-22 school year. For those of you new to our parish school community, NewsViews is published electronically each Thursday evening. Each week there will be Principal’s Letter followed by separate news posts, calendar updates, volunteer opportunities, and more. As partners in your child’s educational journey, we ask that you stay informed by reading NewsViews and staying abreast of information communicated by teachers, Development, Parent Association, and volunteer leads. It can be overwhelming at times, I realize, but this is your homework each week. Last week’s Principal’s Letter had a 77% open rate. I know who’s reading and for how long. The school deploys a variety of communication tools to keep you informed. All stories from NewsViews are also available on the school website and many posts are repeated on the school Facebook page and Instagram accounts. Thank you for reading and staying informed.    

As we head into another COVID year with our mission to act with courage, we listened to the words from Pope Francis’ book Let us Dream on lessons learned from COVID at our in-service this week: 

Discerning in the midst of conflict requires us sometimes to pitch camp together, waiting for the skies to clear. Time belongs to the Lord. Trusting in Him, we move forward with courage, building unity through discernment, to discover and implement God’s dream for us, and the paths of action ahead.

These words challenged us and also gave us comfort as we reviewed the Schoolwide Learning Expectations which, based on the mission statement, guide us in all that we do. We teach our students to be Christ-centered active learners who think critically, and empowered disciples who live out Gospel values, Catholic Social teachings and the mission of the church.   

Dave Watson of Watson Consulting led faculty on Monday as we continued our professional development on the U.S. Bishops pastoral letter on racial justice and cultural diversityOpen Wide our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love in which we are called to a ”genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change and the reform of our institutions and society.” Mr. Watson described his journey as a black man, his experiences at school and as a law enforcement agent and his decision to become an educator and leader. There is no doubt teachers played a pivotal role in his moral and academic development. Teachers shared with each other insights gained from our summer reading, Culturally Responsive Teaching and the BrainCourageous Conversations about Race and Daring Greatly. Mr. Watson will consult with us on a monthly basis throughout the year. He will also present at a parent education night. Through these discussions we felt called to retain our 2020 annual school theme for another year:  Together we can  

  • Act with Justice,   
  • Love with Mercy,  
  • Walk humbly with God 

Another big topic at in-service was accreditation. We are about to begin the self-study based on the National Standards for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary School. The standards and benchmarks give the entire Catholic community an observable, measurable description of a mission-driven, program-effective, responsibly governed and well-managed Catholic school. The standards are laid out in four domains: Mission and Catholic Identity, Governance and Leadership, Academic Excellence and Operational Vitality. You will hear more as we delve into the seventy-two benchmarks over the course of the coming year and prepare for the site visit in 2023.

Last week I shared with you some changes and updates to our COVID-19 mitigation strategies. The entire document is now on our website and linked here. With the prevalence of the delta variant affecting our communities, and straining our health care resources, It is going to take a full community effort to keep our parish school safe.

Faculty and staff are busily preparing for our new school year. We look forward to seeing you all next week at the Meet ‘n Greets. If you haven’t registered for a meeting time with child’s teacher, please do so. In anticipation of the conferences, the school will be sending out a campus map to facilitate social distancing and way-finding. Conferences will be taking place in teachers’ classrooms. Staff will be posted at check-in stations to verify vaccination status so that you will be able to volunteer in our community. The expectation for volunteers is the same as that for faculty and staff. Per the Governor and the Archbishop, vaccination is mandatory for all school employees. If you wish to volunteer in any capacity in the school buildings or as a coach, you will need to show us proof of your vaccination which we have to document. Speaking of vaccinations, please make sure that you have sent to Mrs. Q a copy of your child’s updated immunization records if you haven’t done so.  

We look forward to seeing you all next week…all masked up. We ask you kindly to exit campus once your conference has concluded.

Bernadette O’Leary