Dear St. John School Families,
With less than a month of school remaining, there are many things happening in the life of our school. While the Spring Musical, Middle School Class Trips and 8th Grade Graduation are just around the corner, much of what is happening behind the scenes is aimed at next year and beyond. God is faithful and has great plans for our school, a school that equips young people with an excellent Christian education to courageously serve Christ in an ever-changing world. Thank you for your support of that mission with your prayers, presence and financial gifts.
Auction—amazing school support + fabulous fun: On Friday, April 4, more than 250 people gathered for an evening made possible by the wonderful PTL moms who were determined to make our Spring Fling an auction to remember. Surrounded by colorful signs of spring, guests sipped on Couga-ritas, signed up for parties, bid on creative class projects and dashed for dessert. I know the PTL is planning to share the amazing outcomes, so be looking for a phenomenal recap soon. I would like to express my thanks to those whose donations allowed teachers and their spouses to attend the event. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. I am also extremely grateful to Kristin Ritchie and Angie Birk who went above and beyond to co-chair this super successful auction. Bravo!
Missions—blessed to be a blessing: On Wednesday, April 16, St. John students and staff observed a Day Without Shoes in support of George the Shoeman’s missions efforts to provide access to both shoes and clean water in parts of the world where those necessities are scarce. We collected nearly 1300 pairs of shoes. One family took this effort to heart, magnifying their donation. By notifying their neighbors of the shoe drive and how the results would be a blessing to people across the globe, the Clements children, Adam, Caeli and Olivia, were able to donate 300 pairs! That’s living in the light!
Teachers—dedicated to moving our school forward: While their classroom efforts alone are impressive, St. John teachers are devoted to improving their professional practice and our school. I could talk about each one’s contributions and growth, but let me highlight just a few from our middle school staff for now:
- Julie Durst was selected as a top-ten finalist for the 2014 Saint Louis Science Center / Carol B. & Jerome T. Loeb prize for Excellence in Teaching Science and Mathematics. Mrs. Durst’s exceptional math instruction aims at enhancing student achievement, garnering her nomination for this regional recognition.
- As we continue to align our Middle School Science curriculum with National Next Generation Science, Technology, Engineering and Math [STEM] standards, Heath Luehmann and Linda Ceriotti gave up part of two different weekends recently to attend STEM conferences and workshops, earning each of them a certificate from the National Science Teachers Association.
- Rob Jacklin recently spent the day off campus observing the St. Louis FIRST Robotics Championship Event. In this case, FIRST stands for For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology. Mr. Jacklin is the faculty mentor for our newly formed Lego League Robotics team. We hope to compete in the coming year. He is even dreaming about how we might convert the laptop lab into a Middle School STEM lab.
- Liz Slavens, who has long held a Nebraska teaching certificate, took her Language Arts Praxis and passed with flying colors to finalize her Missouri certification. Credentials such as this will be beneficial as we undergo our accreditation review. Mrs. Slavens is also investigating opportunities for summer workshops that will further inspire her writing process instruction.
Surveys—methods and metrics: The response rate has been tremendous when we poll you via shorter surveys on focused and timely topics. One example from earlier this year was the Student Progress Conference Survey for Middle School families. The initial survey went out immediately after the first quarter conferences. We were seeking input on the new conference format that equipped students with portfolios of their work and prepared them to facilitate their own conference conversation with parents and teachers. We compiled your affirmations and suggestions, changed the venue so we could have an environment a bit more conducive to such conversations, and then we surveyed you again. Thanks for the feedback! After spring break we gave all school families the opportunity to chime in on the topic of inclement weather policies and procedures. While we certainly hope the severity of this past winter will not be repeated anytime soon, we also want to be aware of our community’s various perspectives when it comes to missing school due to inclement weather conditions. Here’s a quick overview of the outcomes:
- 220 people completed the survey.
- 85% of respondents felt we made the right decisions to call off school on the days we did.
- One theme that surfaced was people’s desire to know about a snow day the night before. We hear you and are sympathetic to proactive planning. When we can make the call definitively the night before, that is better for everyone. However, as predicted weather does not always match the actual snowfall or ice accumulation, we cannot base our decision merely on forecast.
- 20% of the respondent families would find it a hardship to delay drop off if we instituted a late-start schedule. We’re still exploring options that might work for our school.
We just launched a focused quality learning environment survey. Thanks in advance for taking a few minutes to share from your perspective. Additionally, we will be implementing requisite comprehensive stakeholder surveys for parents and students in the fall, ahead of our external accreditation review. It will be important that we have a high rate of response on those surveys. We will share more information about the process and importance of your participation in the fall.
Insights—brainstorming with other Lutheran Schools administrators: This winter I participated in a research project looking at the history and current profile of Lutheran education. Not only did my participation result in a $3,000 grant for our school, it also brought into focus that our enrollment trend in middle school is something happening in Lutheran schools across the region. This is due, in part, to a shift in the high school marketplace. With so many school systems, public and private, feeding their high schools with middle schools, the Lutheran Schools’ system of having middle school attached to elementary school is a bit unique. As we look at options for parents to sustain a Christian education for their children, Lutheran High School South (LHSS) is an excellent choice. In a subsequent lunch meeting with LHSS leaders just a couple of weeks ago, I discussed the how we might make that choice more accessible to families. One idea we talked about was a transportation shuttle so the commute is not a prohibitive barrier for our West County families. We are also exploring the possibility of distance learning, whereby our middle school students could synchronously or asynchronously take part in a high school course and even earn high school credit before graduating from St. John.
A quick reminder: Several of you have picked up new family referral cards, but we have yet to receive any back. If it is your intention to receive the $1000 tuition rebate this time next year, you must turn in the completed card. We cannot track who was responsible for bringing new K-8 students to our school community without making it official. Kathy Childers will gladly supply you with a referral card or two if you would still like to be invitational. With the exception of 1st grade, there are several openings at each grade level for the 2014-15 school year. Please invite someone you know to come for Chapel and a tour with our student ambassadors on May 7.
God bless you,
Principal, St. John School