STATE OF THE SCHOOL ADDRESS – 2007
In the seventeenth year of my principalship and in the 135th anniversary year of St. Mary School, what
do I have to say about the state of the school?
We have come far since 1990…in increase of enrollment from 168 students, in financial standing, in
maintenance of the building and now our new science lab, in the curriculum, in staffing, in technology…
Overall, St. Mary School is doing well.
Our enrollment is good, however especially with one low class – 6th grade – we are more challenged to
continue staffing and programs with less income. We are holding our own and are active in promoting
our school – through the website, through word-of-mouth, through quick response to inquiries. We
would like you, our parents, to also be ambassadors of the school and encourage neighbors and friends
to look at St. Mary’s. Other schools in our diocese and throughout the United States have been
experiencing some lower enrollment in the past few years. This trend seems to be turning around in our
diocese, although high cost of living and housing sometimes means less money for tuitions and may
mean a move out of the area.
We are good fiscal managers. Our fund raisers have been very successful, with strong leadership and a
core of very dedicated workers. The Scrip program is continuing, but not being used to its full potential.
With the use of FACTS program and Mollie, our Finance Manager, and Pilar, our Bookkeeper, we have
had little difficulty managing our budget, paying our bills, and collecting tuition monies. With Lynn
Cordia’s efficiency in billing and collecting, we have had little difficulty collecting extended care
monies. After my address, the specifics of next year’s budget and tuition will be discussed. We are
attempting to keep our tuition as affordable as possible. Our enrollment is about 10 students lower than
in some recent years. This has a definite impact on the budget. There are many reasons for this –
dissatisfaction, finances, other opportunities, relocation due to job.
Our school has a strong Catholic identity and a sense of community. This is obvious and evident when
you walk into the school. It permeates the entire curriculum and everything we do. Our school theme of
“We belong to Christ” centers us on what is most important Our liturgies and prayer services help the
students celebrate their faith. Our student and family response to our mission projects has been
outstanding – 32 operations for Operation Smile (then matched to make it 64) and
over $6,000 for the church school in Mexico. We learn, we celebrate, we give, and we try to live out our
lives as Christian committed people.
We are so proud of our science lab. And the fact that it is paid for with no remaining debt is a true
tribute to the generosity of our families, donors and benefactors. This is a state-of-the-art lab. If you
haven’t yet had a tour, come by and see science in action.
Our technology is right up there with the best in our Diocese. Our iBooks continue to be well used in
grades 3-8. We have a new server which should better support our technology use.
We offer a good, solid academic program. Our freshmen give us feedback as to their readiness for
science and social studies. Some would have liked more help in the area of math (especially algebra,
which we added this year) and in writing. This past year we completed the WCEA/WASC accreditation
process and received a 6-year term. We challenged ourselves to work on respect in the school, to
strengthen curricular areas, especially math, religion and language arts, and to look at intervention for
students with needs – either more challenge or more practice.
As mentioned in our Wednesday bulletin a month or so ago, most of our 8th graders were accepted into
their first choice for high school. We have many success stories of our graduates. As we plan our little
reunion evening for the high school seniors who graduated from St. Mary’s, we are getting good
information as to where they are going to college. Our foundation here, along with their high school
experience, has prepared them to go far. One young man has been appointed to the Air Force Academy.
Another is going to Iowa State to be a construction engineer. A young lady is excited to go to San Diego
State. One young woman is accepted into a prestigious film writing program at UCLA, only 22
freshmen are selected. And the list goes on.
To ensure that our math program is strong and on target, we have articulated as a faculty on the math
area and completed an in-depth study, including a vertical alignment of math standards from Gr. K-8 to
ensure that no strand was overlooked; changed books at some grade levels; introduced the EXCEL math
program in Gr. 1-6; ensured that math review and timed tests occur across the levels; reinstated the
algebra program for those ready in 8th grade. Next year the 7th and 8th math will have two programs –7th
math and 7th pre-algebra, and 8th pre-algebra and 8th algebra. Math is being looked at throughout
California, by both private and public schools. Math will be the focus of our curriculum in the diocese
this coming year. Several in-services and workshops will be offered in the math curricular area.
We will be very stretched as personnel, not because we are fewer, but because we are challenging
ourselves to provide the very best education for our students.
Three faculty/staff are not returning:
Cynthia Harding, Kindergarten Aide, will have surgery this summer and will spend
time at home.
Janet Conrey, 7th and 8th Grade Math teacher, needs more time to spend with her
elderly mother, with other home obligations and her other job at Gavilan.
JoAnn Castori, 6th,7th/8th Subject teacher will be moving to Grass Valley. (This was
postponed from last year.)
Considering these personnel leaving and the needs of strengthening our math and writing programs,
especially in the upper grades, the following changes will be occurring:
The extended day kindergarten program has been very successful. After almost a year of experiencing
the running of the program, it was agreed that the program
personnel will consist of the two teachers, Sr. Bobbi and Patti Littlejohn, along with Lynn Cordia as
aide. Parents will be scheduled to help in the classroom.
A yard duty person will need to help from 11:30 to Noon for the Kindergarten student lunch and recess.
The math program will be divided in Gr. 7 and 8. Gr. 6 and 7 students will be screened near the end of
this year. Gr. 7 will be screened for pre-algebra readiness using the Berkeley Test, Diocesan math
scores, 5th and 6th grade math grades, ITBS math scores, as well as teacher recommendation. Gr. 8 will
be screened for algebra readiness using the above system, but with 6th and 7th grade math grades.
Seventh grade students will be assigned to either general math or pre-algebra.
Eighth grade students will be assigned to either pre-algebra or algebra.
Marcee Ervin will teach pre-algebra in 7th and pre-algebra in 8th. The new person hired – which will be
discussed shortly – will teach math in 7th grade. Phyllis Kong will continue to teach algebra in 8th grade.
The math programs are taught the first two periods of the day.
While Marcee Ervin is in the junior high teaching math, Cindy Wheeler will teach in 3rd grade, as she is
now in a teacher credentialing program and has many years of experience here at St. Mary’s
A part-time aide is in the hiring process to replace Cindy until she returns from 3rd grade.
In 2nd and 3rd grade, Joan Miller will switch to 3rd grade for a period of writing several days per week,
while Marcee Ervin teaches 2nd grade science.
The “Floating” Aide will now assist in Gr. 4 and 5 only.
The newly hired person will teach the other 6th grade subjects, except for 6th grade language arts which
Judy Mikrut will continue to teach. The newly hired person will be named as soon as she has an
opportunity to inform her school community. She is presently working in our Diocese, lives in Morgan
Hill (does not teach at St. Catherine’s – so we are not “stealing” her from there), has a valid California
teaching credential, an administrative credential, experience in teaching 3rd, 4th, science in grades 1-8,
homeroom 8th grade and math and science 8th Grade. She has been a vice-principal and a principal, but is
looking forward to being back in the classroom. She will also coach the Academic Junior High
Decathlon Team, which she did at her present school.
Cecile Mantecon will continue to teach 7th grade Religion as well as assume teaching responsibilities of
7th/8th Gr. Social Studies and the 7th grade Homeroom. She will also be religion coordinator, but some
of her duties will be assigned to Melissa Broome.
Melissa Broome, our music teacher, will assume some of prayer service/liturgy prep two extra
I will be teaching 7th/8th Grade Language Arts with Stacy Huddleston. We will be developing specific
courses for writing and literature that will focus and concentrate studies on specific skills and literature
There is time built in for intervention: Patti Littlejohn will continue to do some 1st and 2nd grade
language arts intervention; The new hire will have some time available for 3-5; Stacy Huddleston will
work with 6-8 writing and reading intervention. If Phyllis Kong has time, she will continue with some
resource as well.
To help with yard duty at lunchtime, each aide will take a day to be a lead on yard duty.
I would like to commend our faculty and staff. They are open to continual growth in their profession
and willing to be flexible and to change; they are hard-working, and committed to Catholic education. In
so many ways, they show how they care about the students and families here at St. Mary’s.
What are the challenges?
Definitely, finances. Keeping tuition affordable for Catholic families has to be our
The Enrollment. Getting the word out about our programs. Continually being in a mode of enrollment,
The facilities. An older building has to be maintained in good condition. We are committed to a safe,
clean, and up-to-date building and equipment.
Catholic identity. Ensuring that our school will always be a CATHOLIC school and not simply a private
school. Our values and identity must be visible in all that we do.
Good teaching and top-notch programs. Use our personnel to challenge and support all learners.
Both Development and Fundraising. It is imperative that we continue our development efforts and build
up endowment. Fundraising is essential, especially for our special projects.
Communication. It’s a both-way process. Get the facts, quell rumors.
Partnership. Let us continue working together as a team – in that way, our students/children will be
The bottom line always is that “It’s all about the kids.”