St. Peter’s School 2022-23 Initiatives

Dear St. Peter’s Family,

Happy Summer! Even though school is not in session, we are working hard here at St. Peter’s to make substantive plans for the next school year and beyond. This email is pretty long, so you may want to grab a seat and a cold beverage as you read about the many exciting new plans for next school year.

During my first year as Head of School, I have spent the past several months meeting with staff, students, parents, alumni and community members to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible about St. Peter’s School. I have reviewed test scores, curriculum, discipline policies, funding sources, potential resources, and every single line item in the school budget. With this knowledge and with significant input from our entire school staff, we are making very intentional plans, instituted to drive articulated academic, social and spiritual goals.

Academics: With the goal of closing learning gaps and improving academic outcomes, particularly in math, we have made several positive changes for next year.

  • Math Coach and Title I Math specialist in the elementary school: Dr. Richard Oldrieve, who has worked with our junior high and high school students for the past few years, will be working with our elementary school teachers and students to provide innovative math instruction that supplements our current math curriculum.
  • Title I Math Specialist in the JH/HS: We are delighted to have Lori Craft join our team as a dedicated, full-time Title 1 Math teacher. With a wealth of experience, Ms. Craft will work closely with the JH/HS math department to ensure those students who need remediation receive the individualized and small group instruction necessary to bring them to grade level in math.
  • Title I Reading Specialist in the Elementary School: Continuing the terrific work she began this spring, Mrs. Kristin Husty will be back in the fall to give targeted reading instruction and support to our students who need it the most.
  • Homework Club and Math Lab: To further help our students succeed academically, three St. Peter’s elementary teachers will be helping students with their homework after school every day. Similarly, we will have a Math Lab for our JH/HS students who need assistance with homework or help understanding math concepts.
  • Lunch Study Hall for students with missing assignments: Noting that many of our students’ academic issues result from missing assignments, St. Peter’s School is creating a lunch study hall at both the elementary and JH/HS for students who have chronically late or missing assignments. In addition to keeping our students on track, this study hall will also build lifelong habits of timeliness and accountability.
  • Gifted and Talented Programming for Grades K-8: A gifted and talented specialist will be coming to St. Peter’s School weekly to identify those students in grades K-8 who qualify for gifted enrichment as well as provide enhanced learning opportunities for all of our students.
  • New High School Courses: Adding rigor to our high school course offerings is a high priority, and as such, St. Peter’s School is pleased to add two new electives this school year – Latin and AP Human Geography.
  • Differentiation for fourth grade: Beginning next school year, those fourth-graders who are academically ready will join the departmentalized fifth and sixth-grade rotation, with Mrs. Penny Priess teaching math and science to these students as well as our fifth and sixth graders, Mrs. Erin Keffalas teaching religion and physical education and Ms. Kathleen Keller teaching Language Arts and Social Studies. A small segment of our rising fourth graders will remain with Mrs. Seidel for more personalized instruction and additional support, building on the skills and relationships they developed in her classroom this past year. As always, meeting the individualized needs of all of our students is a hallmark of St. Peter’s School.
  • Daily Schedule: The junior high and high school will have a new schedule that allows for daily instruction in core subject areas, especially in math and foreign language. Some high school subjects are better suited to a longer “block” period, like AP courses or science labs, but most of our junior high and high school classes will meet daily.
  • Weekly Schedule: Recognizing the vital need for our faculty to receive ongoing and targeted professional development for our staff, Friday afternoons will be designated for staff meetings and training. This time will be specifically scripted to include:
    • Time for staff to meet within and across departments and grade levels to assess curriculum, determine pacing, review data and discuss learning strategies. For example, all teachers who teach math at any level may meet one Friday afternoon to discuss at length who teaches what concepts at which grade and how these concepts are scaffolded throughout our entire school system.
    • Professional training on several topics such as Catholic doctrine and traditions, equity, diversity and inclusion, restorative discipline practices, testing data analysis, standardized assessment data, and
    • Unique learning opportunities for our students:
      • Every tenth-grader will be taking a college-level study skills course focused on individualized learning strategies.
      • Juniors will be afforded the opportunity to take ACT Prep classes.
      • We are looking to partner with Junior Achievement to provide Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurial lessons to our elementary and junior high school students.
      • This time will also be used for remediation, ensuring that our students who are not at grade level in reading and math get the extra assistance they need to be successful.
      • All students will have opportunities for experiential learning.
  • Ongoing Assessments and Benchmarking: To assess the effectiveness of these new initiatives, St. Peter’s School will regularly use national, state and internal metrics to assess and benchmark our progress.

Social, Emotional and Cultural Initiatives: Committed to developing the whole child, St. Peter’s School will teach our students the behaviors, habits, skills and traits that lead to lifelong success.

  • Social and Emotional Learning: Building on the positives from last year, our social and emotional learning teacher Mrs. Amy Secrist will now be full-time. Bringing her expertise to the JH in the fall, Mrs. Secrist will continue to emphasize positive behaviors, including self-discipline, compassion, empathy, and resilience.
  • Peer mentoring: We are expanding the peer mentoring program we started this past fall, empowering our high school student leaders to model behavior and share wisdom with our 4th, 5th and 6th graders. In the upcoming year, we will be creating several opportunities to leverage the power of our Preschool through high school model, with classroom buddies, tutoring programs and multi-grade service projects in the works.
  • Behavioral expectations and revised discipline policies: As a Catholic School, we expect more from our students, and will be taking a restorative and proactive approach to discipline that will encourage and enable every one of our students to fulfill his or her God-given potential. A revised St. Peter’s Parent/Student Handbook will be available in early August.
  • Culture of learning and respect: A group of faculty across all grades met earlier this summer to develop specific strategies that incent, reward and promote positive behaviors, including school attendance, homework completion, engaged learning and respect for self and others.
  • Enhanced opportunities in athletics and extra-curricular activities: Improving our student experience with more clubs and athletic opportunities is a high priority for the upcoming school year.
    • Our Athletic Director, David Miller is focused on developing strong athletic programs at all levels that will help build and restore competitive high school athletic teams.
    • Our new theater Director Shannon Ball will be carrying on the Spartan thespian tradition, leading a team of experts who will provide a comprehensive theater experience for all our students.
    • Many thanks to Jamie Stima, who led our theater program during the pandemic. In addition to her role as the elementary music teacher, Mrs. Stima will continue to be a big part of the theater program, acting as vocal director for the St. Peter’s musicals.

Spirituality: Infusing our Catholic faith in all that we do, St. Peter School understands our sacred responsibility to nurture and instill in our students a worldview rooted in the Gospel values.

  • Service Learning: Working closely with our parish priests and community partners, St. Peter’s School will have meaningful service opportunities at all levels, including grade, building, and campus-wide service days. Our faculty and staff will lead by example and engage in regular community service.
  • Mission Trip: Planning is underway for a 9th-grade mission trip to the Appalachian Region. Stay tuned for more details.
  • School-wide Instruction on the Catholic Mass and Catholic Faith Traditions: As part of our school accreditation process, St. Peter’s School outlined a multi-year plan to nurture and instill our entire school community with an understanding and appreciation for the Catholic Mass and specific Catholic faith traditions. Implementation of this plan begins in the fall.
  • Connected and articulated curriculum: Our JH/HS Theology team is meeting this summer to begin a review of how we approach religion and theology instruction at all levels.

I realize that this is a lot of information to digest, and I am even more aware that there is still more planning to do. This upcoming year is critical to the future of St. Peter’s School. Our school and parish leadership are laser-focused on making purposeful gains on every front. Many things will look different next year, and often change can be uncomfortable. However, change is inevitable to make the necessary improvements that our students and families deserve. This is also a very exciting and pivotal time for our school. Thank you for being with us, and thanks even more for being a part of the resurgence of St. Peter’s School.

Feel free to reach out to me at any time with your questions and concerns.

Finally, please share this information with family or friends, especially anyone you know who may be looking for a personalized, safe, high-quality, close-knit school experience that we offer at St. Peter’s. Please encourage them to call or visit BecomeaSpartan.com to learn more about transferring to St. Peter’s.

Yours in faith and gratitude,
Laurie (Signature image)
Laurie McKeon
Head of School