SMMA Celebrates a Golden Year! 1964-2014 August 4, 2014

SMMA Celebrates a Golden Year! 1964-2014 August 4, 2014

Dear St. Margaret Mary Alacoque School Families,

The faculty and I look forward to welcoming your children to a new year of learning. The upcoming school year will be a special one as we celebrate 50 years of quality Catholic education that prepares our students for a life of discipleship. Under the leadership of Father Joseph Scheer, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish was founded on April 30, 1962. The school opened in September of 1964 by the Franciscan Sisters. There were 100 students in grades 1 through 5. The faculty was comprised of 7 teachers with Sr. Miriam Hirt serving as principal. We have come a long way since that opening day 50 years ago. Today SMMA serves 442 students with a staff of 37 teachers, aides and support staff. The school educates students from Preschool through grade 8.

Throughout the 50 years that SMMA has been in existence there have been numerous construction projects, renovations and additions. New athletic fields were dedicated in 1992. A new state of the art gymnasium with a walking track along with airconditioning for the school was added in 2002. The Parish Center was added that same year and the current kitchen was remodeled. This year the kitchen flooring was replaced and fresh paint gives the old kitchen a new appearance. Plans are underway to create a Media Lab that will open in 2015. We hope to expand the preschool program to include a full day Preschool option for four-year-old students for the 2015-2016 school year.

Goals for this year include advancing the technology program in an effort to provide our students with the skills they need to achieve success in the 21st century and beyond. Teachers have access to interactive whiteboards in almost all classes. We have purchased 40 iPads that will be used for student projects at all grade levels. We are introducing the STEM approach to education that focuses on integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math activities in the Middle School. Mrs. Myers is teaching Science to all Middle School grades of 6, 7 and 8. We have purchased new lab tables and microscopes in an effort to provide the scientific tools needed by students to investigate, discover, and research new learning.

This year students in grades 4 through 8 will again benefit from smaller classes in the area of Math. Students at those grade levels have been placed in groups based on ITBS math scores, teacher recommendation, and the results of a placement test given at the end of the 2013-2014 school year. The creation of these groups allows students to work at a pace that matches their cognitive ability. In an effort to achieve maximum success in the area of math, more time has been built into the weekly schedule for Middle School students.

This year we will continue our efforts to build a culture of kindness at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque School by using the guiding principals of the Virtue Based Restorative Discipline Program. The guiding principles of this model are that:

  1.  We will dedicate ourselves to living virtue.
  2.  We will support others in living virtue.
  3.  We will commit to constructive thoughts, words and deeds.
  4.  When faced with challenges or conflict, we will find solutions that cultivate virtue for ourselves and for others.

Last year the faculty chose a virtue that they wanted to cultivate in their own lives and students worked on monthly virtues. This year we are giving families an opportunity to cultivate a family virtue that can be shared with our school community. More information about this project will be given at the beginning of the year parent meetings.

We are very excited to be able to offer a foreign language to all grade levels. Students in Kindergarten through grade 8 will receive instruction in Spanish this year. Mrs. Bodnar, our former art teacher, resigned her position in late June. Mrs. Bodnar taught Art to all grade levels and Spanish to grades 5-8. Art in grades K-5 will be taught by homeroom teachers. We are fortunate to have on staff a qualified Art instructor – Mrs. Toni Braun – for grades 6, 7, and 8. Spanish instruction will take place weekly for all grade levels.

SMMA is entering the second phase of our school improvement process in an effort to develop a plan of action for the next 5 years. We have looked at our Catholic Identity, Educational Issues and Institutional Issues in an effort to set realistic goals for improvement. Through these efforts we will insure that our school remains a vital place of learning that is truly “Alive in Christ” for 50+ years.

The 2014-2015 school year will officially begin with an Open House on Sunday, August 17, from 12:30 until 2:30 in the afternoon. Be sure to stop by to see your new homerooms and teachers and drop off school supplies. Our first fundraiser of the year – Entertainment Books – will be available at the Open House.

Parent Welcome for those families who have students in grades K-4 will take place on Thursday, August 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in Church. Following greetings from the School Board, teachers in grades K-4 will give an overview of their classroom procedures and expectations in individual homerooms. Grade 5-8 parents will have the opportunity to learn about the Intermediate and Middle School curriculum and procedures at the “Back to School Night” on Thursday, August 28, at 6:30 p.m. in Church. Preschool parents will meet on Tuesday, August 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Center.

I can’t wait to see all of the students arriving for the first day of school! Grades 1 through 8 will start on Monday, August 18, and classes will conclude at noon. Join us if you can for our opening prayer service that will take place at 9:30 a.m. in Church on August 18. Kindergarten students are invited to stop by to visit on August 18, between 8:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Grades K-8 will attend classes from 7:50 a.m. until 2:50 p.m. beginning Tuesday, August 19. Our school body becomes complete once our Preschoolers join us after Labor Day.

Please know that I am grateful for your support and dedication to Catholic education over these past 50 years. I am looking forward to a wonderful year filled with many golden moments.

WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR!

Mrs. Christy Bodar, our Art teacher for grades K-8 and Spanish teacher for grades 5-8, was offered a position teaching Spanish in the St. Clair Public Schools, which she accepted in June. We wish Mrs. Bodnar much success in her new endeavor.

Senorita Sarah Andrews has been hired to teach Spanish to grades K through 8. Miss Andrews graduated from Concordia University in Nebraska in 2010. For the past three years she taught Spanish I, II, and III at St. Mary’s Colgan High School in Pittsburg, Kansas. She is excited to be back in her hometown of Saint Louis, working close to her home in South County. She is even more excited to share her love of the Spanish language with the students of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque School. Be sure to stop by school at the Open House on August 17 to welcome Miss Andrews to our school. The new Spanish Room is in the intermediate grade hallway.

Mrs. Toni Braun will be teaching Art to students in grades 6, 7 and 8. Homeroom teachers for grades K through 5 will be taking on the responsibility of Art instruction for the students in their classrooms. They will be following the formal Art curriculum established for the school. All of these teachers are qualified and certified to teach Art courses.

There are new lab tables and microscopes in Mrs. Myers’ (6M) homeroom. Be sure to stop in and check out the new equipment that will be used by Middle School students.

There are new iPads that have been purchased and assigned for each grade level. These will be used by the students in the classrooms under the direction of homeroom teachers.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Mrs. Marianne Freiling

Principal

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