As the first week of the new school year nears it's Friday afternoon, I wanted to share some of the strategic work I've been doing over the past month.
Going Digital! A Stronger Infrastructure
I've made to improve communications and efficiency so you'll know what to expect moving forward.
In effort to create transparency and more efficient access to information, I have been working on shifting to digital platforms. We will be using our website and Constant Contact to send out much more information. With a only 1/2 time administrative assistant, we have to be efficient!
To put this into context, I am taking information from individual, aged computers and uploading and/or creating in the google platform. This takes time and training, so I appreciate everything you're doing to support our transition. An example of this is the lunch orders. Historically, they have been submitted using a paper copy of a calendar-style menu and parents have sent checks for payment. The (part-time, brand-new) administrative assistant has to do a tally for every single day, and varify payment, clarify any missing information and keep record then relay all of the information to the admin assistant at CLA, then to the business manager to do one total count for lunches. This could be more efficient. I have set up google sheets with formulas for easy tallying and shared that with the other the other two parties, thereby eliminating about 4 steps. On the horizon, we will be moving to a digital lunch purchase. The goal is to reduce the number of steps to get the job done accurately.
I have been working on improving efficiency of additional operations, such as conducting an inventory of all digital and other assets our school owns in the event of unfortunate circumstances and to track expenses, run reviews on safety plans with the fire marshall, set up the year's worth of fire-drills together with CLA and the neighboring fire department, created digital communication for the Manchester School District for all transportation, ongoing updates of our website that will eventually house the forms and systems going digital, developed a long-range growth plan for the school that includes outreach across the community, professional development for teachers and the improvement and transparency of all areas of curriculum and done a complete budget review to assure we are maximizing dollars and taking advantage of other possible revenue sources, and so much more in just the past few weeks. Phew!
Having an strong sense of the fiscal topography and partaking in a needs assessment allows me to know where to seek alternative funding sources (and for what) through grants and donations and where to tighten costs. Just going digital with our commications and systems will save thousands in paper and time and by increasing the cost of pay-to-play, it will not longer
the school money to run the athletics program. The examination of our financial infrastructure and being reponsive where necessary assures longevity. I have written and managed federal and private grants for over 10 years to access funding for special projects and school initiatives. The school cannot run alone on tuition funds
but we can get creative about how we fund what we value
. Single revenue stream is not a sustainable model. However, there are millions of dollars available for Catholic schools and we'll be building a database of grants to fund projects that align with curriculum, capital improvements such as technology and multiple-copy library, scientific materials, professional development, etc.
As we continue to take a look at our current curricula and resources, instruction and assessment strategies, I will be working with teachers to design units and lessons that engage 100% of the students in rich independent and collaborative learning experiences while inspiring their curiosity and contribution to problem-solving, intellectual growth and social awareness. I've been meeting with each teacher and will continue to do so weekly to build lessons that allow for students to learn at a flexible pace, to design authentic assessments that require real-life application and to embed reading, writing and mathematics across the content areas. This is ongoing work, including September 17th (Voting Day - No School) and critical to our students' academic development.
Students have attended their first mass with Fr. Richard Dion of St. Anthony's Parish. Throughout the year, they will continue to learn about the church history, learn deeply powerful prayer, learn ways in which their Catholic faith and values can be embodied in their day-to-day lives, and how and why this faith will play an important role as they grow. We will be attending special masses for Holy Days. This year, Fr. Dion has been assigned to be our chaplin and I'll be meeting with him as we supports our students' personal faith.
Collective Expertise and Networking
A long-range vision for St. Joe's will require all of our collective expertise! I have heard from some families about ways they feel called to help. I plan to continue to ask for your manpower in many ways including the Advisory Board, special projects and grant-writing, the revitalization of our library learning center is one perfect example. If you work for a company that would like to provide donations for a meaningful educational endeavor or project such as our Christmas play for a mere $300, please let me know. If you know of a family that would be willing to donate textbook money for a student in need, please send them my information. If you know of other families who would like to take a tour, meet with me or follow our Facebook page, please feel free to share. If you would love to volunteer to help in our office, we would love to have you for special tasks! Every little bit helps. This school will grow and be strong with God's guidance and grace and all of our strengths and collaboration.
A few important notes for next week:
- Please look for the soccer schedule linked to your constant contact communication. A special communication group for just the soccer team has been set up.
- School picture day is September 10th with Geskus Photography. Please be sure all picture forms are submitted by the 9th.
- Students are expected to look and be tidy (tucked in shirts, tied shoes, etc). I've been walking the halls getting to know the children as they transition, enter and depart and promoting regulation of materials and time. They are learning to plan for the day, manage materials, plan tasks in sequence, self-advocate for sign-ups and prepare for upcoming obligations. The more they can do independently and with a gradually decreasing amount of coaching, the better for them.
September 17th - VOTING DAY - NO SCHOOL
September 18th - Mass
September 20th - First Visit to the Soup Kitchen
September 25th - Mass
In closing, I just want to say thank you for all of the supportive emails and conversations we've had over the past few weeks. It matters to me that you trust in me and our staff as serve you as we walk beside you in raising and teaching these beautiful kids. I cannot say enough what a blessing it has been to be here.