Alumni Schools Model Inclusiveness and Esprit de Corps
Advancement Directors who have agreed to serve as mentors work in schools that already lead by example. Healey Founder’s Grant winner and alum Saint Mary School (Vineland, NJ) is one of those schools. (See The Entrepreneurial School.)
Saint Peter School (Merchantville, NJ) has also found creative ways to adapt to a changing environment.
- Identified the need for more differentiated instruction. To help address the need, the school hired a Resource Facilitator to provide direct service to students and resources for teachers.
- Established a Parent Ambassador Team that comprises both English- and Spanish-speaking parents. The team meets with families during Open Houses and Welcome Events and reaches out to new families throughout the year to ensure a smooth transition.
- Assessed changing demographics in the school: increases in non-English speaking students, in the diversity and types of cultural backgrounds among families and in single-parent families. The school is finding ways to be more inclusive, such as by translating the application and New Family Survival Guide and instituting an on-line program to order lunch and pay for before- and after-care programs.
- Is connecting more effectively with Latino families. The administrative team and pastor attended conferences at Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) to learn about Latino outreach, enrollment and cultural inclusion.
- Increased enrollment by 90 students last year. The school expanded PK3 and added a second PK4 class, resulting in the need for a second Kindergarten class the following year. The school anticipates similar expansion through second grade.
“We are here to serve our families, along with our pastor, who is on board and raising scholarship money from the pulpit,” said Kathy O’Callaghan, Advancement Director.
“While each school is unique, I would tell all schools to embrace who they are. To be authentically themselves.” — Kathy O’Callaghan, Advancement Director, Saint Peter School
St. Michael the Archangel School (Coopersburg and Bethlehem, PA) was just welcomed as one of the Foundation’s new alumni schools at SAGE 2015. During its initial three years working with Healey, St. Michael School had made bold moves to strengthen leadership, hiring a new principal and vice principal.
The school empowered parents and volunteers through a new Noble Knights Association and implemented a new reading series and iPad initiative. Educational improvements addressed feedback from parent surveys and were instrumental in the school’s largest enrollment increase in more than five years. Future growth is anticipated through a strategy to improve the matriculation rate from parish-hosted preschools to Kindergarten by shifting curriculum supervision and marketing to St. Michael the Archangel School.
“The esprit de corps of our families and their loyalty to the school have been so critical to our success,” said Marianne Gano, Advancement Director, who has just signed on to serve as a mentor. “Schools need a strong emphasis on retention and making sure families are comfortable and happy. Take care of what’s going on inside the school first, and then also do the necessary work on building a strong pipeline and reputation in the community.”