Dear St. Peter’s Families,
As we wrap up the first semester of the school year, the principals and I are reviewing and assessing many of our new initiatives. We are making significant progress on so many fronts. Here is a brief update:
- Spirituality—With the appointment of Nathan Sims as the Director of Theology, we have made a clear commitment to the moral and religious formation of our students and the entire school community. This new position is already having a positive impact on everything from the Theology curriculum to the personal and spiritual development of our students. Equally important are the daily conversations taking place in classrooms, in faculty meetings, with students, and between colleagues about faith, virtue, morality, truth, beauty, and Catholicism. This ongoing dialogue centers our entire school community in and with Christ.
- Academics—We have instituted a host of very intentional academic upgrades this year, including:
- Gifted and Talented Program—While several students have already been identified as Gifted and Talented, we continue to administer the CoGAT test to provide yet another data point for our students to display their abilities. Our Gifted and Talented Director, Rebecca Kidney is also developing programming and instruction to meet the needs of our gifted learners.
- Math Initiatives—After dedicating significant time this semester to supporting our high school students who are working on their End of Course exams, JH/HS Title I Math instructor Lori Craft is now providing small group instruction to many of our junior high students who need additional assistance with math. Beginning second semester, Mrs. Craft will also be providing JH/HS math tutoring during homeroom period for any students struggling in math. Similarly, in the Elementary School, Dr. Oldrieve and Ms. Kidney are working with both students and teachers to help close the learning gaps in math. These new teaching strategies, combined with pull-out instruction for small groups of students, will be instrumental in moving students to and above grade level in math.
- Reading Support—If you recall, due to the overwhelming teacher shortage, we did not have a Title I teacher until late April of last year. Having Mrs. Hustey with us for this entire semester is making an enormous difference for those students who require additional reading support. We are seeing strong growth in reading, particularly for those students who need it the most.
- New School Schedule in the JH/HS—Our teachers and students have adjusted quickly to the seven-period day. This new schedule allows our teachers to have daily interaction and follow-up with students. We will know more about the overall impact of this change after this entire year, but we are seeing good outcomes thus far.
- New grade rotation in the Elementary—Adding fourth grade to the 5th/6th rotation has increased expectations in both course content and academic skills for our 4th-grade students. Our 4th, 5th, and 6th-grade team of Mrs. Preiss, Mrs. Keffalas, Ms. Kellar, and Mrs. Unger is challenging our students to become self-directed about their education and their behavior.
- Third/Fourth-grade split—Mrs. Seidel and Mrs. Gentile are providing unique differentiation in their classroom, allowing fourth graders who require extra support to not only receive targeted instruction but also to have the opportunity to act as leaders in the class. At the same time, our third graders are being introduced to both grade-level work and the advanced work that the fourth graders are encountering.
- College Study Skills Course—This may be my favorite academic initiative we instituted this year. Many of our students do not believe in or acknowledge their academic potential. They don’t see themselves as smart; they don’t engage in the learning process, and they resist higher-level thinking. Through her CCP course, Dr. Parente not only taught these sophomores critical study skills but, more importantly, she showed them that they ALL have the ability to do higher-level work. In her final class on Friday, Dr. Parente’s students worked in groups to “teach” their peers and their teachers a lesson related to something they learned in one of their core courses this semester. Honestly, the students’ projects were very well done, and the interaction between students and faculty was priceless. Even better, our students have realized that they can achieve at levels that they previously thought were unattainable. Huge thanks to Dr. Parente for making this happen.
- School Culture—With an attentiveness to each student’s growth, St. Peter’s School is committed to providing an environment that nurtures excellence and expects success.
- Discipline—This year, we are focusing much more on personal accountability, self-regulation, and individual responsibility than rote, punitive discipline. New measures, like homework recovery, enhanced PBIS, fix-it tickets, and behavior contracts, have been put in place to help students gain the necessary autonomy and motivation to make good choices, adhere to our community standards, and build habits of excellence.
- Clubs and Friday programming—Our students are gaining valuable experiences outside the classroom through clubs, extra-curricular activities, and our Friday afternoon programming. Participation in clubs, Student Council, and Academic Challenge has increased since last year. In addition, our students are getting supplemental instruction on Friday afternoons in everything from Junior Achievement leadership programs to dance.
- Teacher Professional Development—Our Friday afternoon staff professional development is yielding fruit as our teachers share ideas, learn new strategies, shape policy, align curriculum and discuss outcomes. Having this protected time to work together as a staff will not only serve our current students but will definitely shape St. Peter’s School for years to come.
- St. Peter’s traditions return—Last Sunday, the Christmas Classic was held in person for the first time since 2019, with people lining up to buy unique baked treats and see our students perform. Enormous thanks to Ann Brown and her crew of bakers who make the Christmas Classic the event of the season. In addition, auditions for Minisingers began this week, reviving this popular St. Peter’s tradition. This week was also our JH/HS band and choir concert, and the Homecoming Court announcements, exemplifying the vibrant student life here at St. Peter’s.
There are many other indicators, both big and small, that show St. Peter’s School is making strides across the board. We look forward to continuing on this upward trajectory next semester and beyond. As always, thank you for allowing us to be a part of your family’s educational journey. Let’s finish this first semester strong!
Yours in faith and gratitude,