What’s new in Catholic schools

| August 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
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The Catholic Spirit asked principals of all of the Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to share their new initiatives, projects and leaders for the 2018-2019 school year. The following is a selection of their responses.

After the retirement of longtime principal Liz Ramsey in June, Risen Christ Catholic School in Minneapolis promoted two of its educators to co-principal. Melissa Eichstaedt will serve as co-principal for curriculum and instruction, and Kathy Yates will serve as co-principal for student affairs.

Hill-Murray School in Maplewood expects to serve 40 students from China, Korea, Spain and Vietnam through a new partnership with Nacel Open Door, an organization that runs international schools. In light of the partnership begun last year, Nacel Open Door closed St. Paul Preparatory School, which it ran in downtown St. Paul, and opened the SPP program at Hill-Murray. Hill-Murray added a new International Center, which will manage host families and communications.

St. Michael Catholic School in Prior Lake has a new principal, Mary Yamoah.

Shakopee Area Catholic School redesigned elective classes for its seventh- and eighth-grade students to complement the rapid brain development middle school students experience.

Divine Mercy Catholic School in Faribault is adding a competitive robotics program for students in grades four to eight. According to the school, “the program will allow students to experience a team-based set of activities including programming, design and construction of a robot to complete a yearly challenge.” The program is also available to sixth- to eighth-grade students at Bethlehem Academy in Faribault.

St. John Catholic School in Little Canada is adopting STEM curriculum in all of its grades, kindergarten to eight. “While any school that focuses on science, technology, engineering and mathematics can claim STEM curriculum, the unique piece of our approach is that this is fully integrated into every single subject, in every single classroom,” said Laura Haraldson, the school’s communications coordinator. “The key is the real-world applications.” The school also has a new 3-D printer to “bring the entire true-to-life application home.” Meanwhile, the school’s preschool is opening up all-year registration for ages 33 months to kindergarten. The school also has a new principal, Dan Hurley, who took the helm from Mary Kay Rowan, who retired after 22 years leading the school.

Col. Neil Hetherington is the new commander of cadets at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights. The school also has a new chaplain, Father Mark Pavlak. This fall it begins offering new courses geared to “reflect students’ interests and societal trends,” such as one on digital media and video. It also recently launched a new website at cadets.com.

St. Agnes School in St. Paul has acquired Seton Montessori School, which was previously a separate Catholic preschool in West St. Paul. The half-day and full-day programs are for 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds. The school is also welcoming four Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, who will be teaching and living at the adjacent convent. Sisters Teresa Christi Balek, Mary Margaret O’Brien, Mary Consolata Klucik and Mary Philomena Coon are from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Bethlehem Academy in Faribault is expanding an agricultural program that began last year to include a plant science course and two greenhouses. It is also adding a peer ministry program and expanding its Christian Service Learning program, in which its seniors serve children, people in nursing homes and others in need.

When a new sports dome is erected in November, Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield will be the only high school or college campus in the U.S. to have two full-size soccer domes. The school has also expanded its robotics center, completed renovation of its college and career center, refurbished classrooms for STEM curriculum, and updated its theater lighting and seats.

Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School in Mound is launching the Responsive Classroom approach in all of its classrooms. The teaching approach connects academic success to social-emotional learning with an emphasis on creating a positive school culture. Responsive Classroom informs a teacher’s language, classroom management, teacher modeling and learning activities.

St. Jerome Catholic School in Maplewood is beginning a three-to-five year transition to a classical school model. “We believe that a classical model is an excellent way to teach children to think and analyze and use knowledge using strong, quality literature and teaching methods. We’ll follow a historical framework that builds to the coming of Christ and follows from that,” said Principal Anne Gattman. “We are taking this transition in phases. We hope to be a feeder grade school for classical high schools in our area.”

St. Mark’s Catholic School in St. Paul and St. Raphael Catholic School in Crystal have also announced that they are exploring the classical school model.

St. Mark’s Catholic School in St. Paul welcomes a new principal, Edgar Alfonzo, who previously was principal of St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School in Minneapolis.

Tricia Menzhuber is the new principal of St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School in Minneapolis. She was previously head of school at Way of the Shepherd Catholic Montessori School in Blaine.

Thirteen schools across the archdiocese are piloting involvement in The Positivity Project movement, which aims to empower “America’s youth to build strong relationships by seeing the good in themselves and others.” Participating schools are Carondelet Catholic School, Minneapolis; Divine Mercy Catholic School, Faribault; Faithful Shepherd Catholic School, Eagan; Guardian Angels Catholic School, Chaska; Holy Trinity Catholic School, South St. Paul; Nativity of Mary School, Bloomington; St. John the Baptist Catholic School, Jordan; St. Joseph’s Catholic School, West St. Paul; St. Joseph Catholic School, Waconia; St. Michael Catholic School, St. Michael; St. Michael Catholic School, Prior Lake; Our Lady of Grace Catholic School, Edina; and Shakopee Area Catholic School, Shakopee.

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