Dear SKS Families,

 

This is my first official blog of the 2020-2021 school year. The blog is used to communicate school happenings, perhaps share a thought spiritually or educationally, and usually includes some pictures that capture the spirit of joy in our school.

 

I want to thank you for the many congratulatory messages we received last week for being recognized nationally as a Blue Ribbon Award School. We are humbly filled with great pride. I want to also congratulate you, our families, as the award is a reflection of our entire school community. I learned a long time ago that one person or one faction of an organization does not make it successful. As with championship teams in sports, it is not always about the most talented team, but more about the team chemistry that drives successful organizations. We are fortunate that we have leadership from a caring pastor in Msgr. Hans Brouwers. We also have great leadership from our SKS Board of Limited Jurisdiction and our Home and School Board. Our teachers and parents work together to lead our students daily with the mission of educating the whole child – it’s more than academic excellence. In this partnership, we can impart values such as compassion, empathy, integrity and responsibility all driven by our Catholic faith. In this school, Christ is the lead teacher. For all these reasons, our school is recognized as a Blue Ribbon School.

 

The following letter is from the US Department of Education: 

 

Mr. Frank Tosti

Saint Katharine of Siena School

116 South Aberdeen Avenue

Wayne, PA 19087-4102

 

Dear Mr. Frank Tosti,

 

Congratulations to you and the Saint Katharine of Siena School community on being recognized as a U.S. Department of Education 2020 Blue Ribbon School. As the liaison office for the U.S. Department of Education to the nonpublic school community, including private, faith-based, and home schools, the Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE) is delighted that your school has received this recognition for your outstanding and hard-earned achievement. The Blue Ribbon Schools Program recognizes elementary and secondary schools that make significant progress toward closing the achievement gap or whose students achieve at high levels. By performing in the top fifteen percent in the nation in reading and mathematics, Saint Katharine of Siena School has clearly evidenced a commitment to educational excellence and high academic achievement for all students. We commend the faculty, staff, students, and parents of the Saint Katharine of Siena School community for their efforts in creating an environment of success. We wish Saint Katharine of Siena School success in continuing its tradition of academic distinction in the years ahead. Please do not hesitate to contact us at (202) 401-1365 or by email at ONPE@ed.gov if we can be of assistance to you in the future.

 

Sincerely,

Maureen Dowling, Ed.D. Director

 

 

 

We continue to work on logistics here at school. Cleaning schedules of bathrooms, recess times, arrival/dismissal, and lunches are going well. The weather has cooperated and teachers have had students outside regularly for classes and lunch. The Clorox 360 sprayer is being used in bathrooms and high touch areas and we have a smaller sprayer that is easier to use with the same disinfectant. It is a very effective sanitization. Teachers and staff all chip in and help out. We hired a lunch staff member to help with cleaning by coming in earlier to assist. The bathrooms are wiped after recess, after lunch and at the day’s end.  High touch areas are wiped down regularly as well. The school gets a fully detailed cleaning on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

 

Morning arrival and afternoon dismissal lines for buses and car line have gone well with a thumbs up from the Radnor Police. Thanks for cooperating by NOT BLOCKING the driveways on Midland Ave. So far I haven’t received one negative email!

 

Things seem to be going reasonably well for students and families with both in person and virtual learning as well as the safety requirements at school this year. Speaking from my heart, I am concerned for our teachers. I think it is important for me to communicate this to you.  With the change in school schedule and many safety protocols in place that require more supervision, teachers have very little free time during the day. Figuring out virtual school and teaching to students in the classroom and online is a delicate balance and there are challenges.  I want to remind you from last week’s email that virtual school is done for necessity, not for convenience.

 

Teachers have little free time during the day. Each teacher lost two free planning periods each week due to the schedule change. This was done in order to make us safer.  Additional duties at lunch, recess, and dismissal have added time to their day. There is little time for collegiality and shared professional development.  In great schools, teachers collaborate and share best practices with each other but there is no time in the schedule for it now. It is hard for teachers to be with a colleague and collaborate. Normally we meet in morning for faculty prayers to be together, however because we need to supervise homerooms and monitor masks and social distancing, every homeroom has to be covered from 7:45 am until the start of school day.  Normally at lunch, the faculty room is a buzz of chatter, laughter, and communal sharing while breaking bread as a group. This year, teachers need to eat in their classrooms with their students. We are a very close knit faculty/staff and it has been hard to be communal. We also need to find time to begin the preparation for our Middle States Reaccreditation which begins this year and goes into the next year. This will be the third Middle States Self Study at SKS in my time here. It is important work as we plan for the future of our school.  I am looking at our school calendar and I am working on a plan for meeting days for our faculty.  I will be in touch with you when I have this figured out. It is my hope you will understand and support this plan when presented.

 

Finally, by nature I am an eternal optimist. Even during my erratic golf game I try to think positive. However, I am a realist too. While we are lucky to be in school now, I know there is a possibility of a school shutdown as we experienced in the spring. I ask each family to have your plan B in place on the event we need to go all virtual as a school. Our teachers have been preparing for it and so should you – let’s hope we don’t need it!

 

Below is a link to a very good article about the importance of a child’s emotional intelligence: Compassion, perspective, empathy, kindness, and patience are a few core traits we want to cultivate in our students.

 

https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/kids-health/eq-vs-iq-why-emotional-intelligence-will-take-kids-farther-in-life/

 

Please know how grateful the faculty and I are of your steady support and encouragement!

Take care,

Bud