Greetings from St. Joes. I hope that you are enjoying a spectacular summer filled with well-deserved relaxation and great family fun. I am pleased to report that the SJ hustle and bustle continues on Campus during the summer with academic course offerings, service projects, promotional photoshoots, summer camps, strength and conditioning for our student-athletes, and personalized meetings and tours for enrolling Grade 9 and transfer students. The pursuit of continuous improvement is invigorating and makes our community strong, vibrant, and poised for success.
Last summer, we launched our two-year Strategic Priorities (July 2021-June 2023) and Pillars of Success. The foundational pillar, our strong Catholic Identity, guides our daily decision making and shapes the focus for each subsequent priority which serves to advance programs to best prepare our Cadets for college and beyond. Securely positioned on that foundational pillar of Catholic Identity & Values are the aligned strategic priorities of Educational Programming; Marketing & Enrollment Management; Institutional Advancement; and Facilities & Technology Infrastructure.
Let me take this opportunity to report on our forward progress since July 2021 and share our areas of focus for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year.
Catholic Identity - Expanding Meaningful Service Opportunities
Our Catholic faith defines our community and gives us the strength, confidence, and clarity to Carry On each day. The lessening of the pandemic restrictions greatly enhanced our ability to implement a mission driven approach to faith formation and, thereby, strengthening our school culture in pursuit of virtue. Theology classes continued to attend mass and participate in instructional lessons with Father Silva, and the Grade 12 Peer Ministers partnered with the College and School Counseling Department to assist in the transition of Grade 9 students. Traditional SJ masses resumed in their in-person family format. We look forward to a normal school opening for the first time since September 2019 and with that a full return to traditional and new Service Projects and Initiatives involving SJ students, employees, and community members working proudly side by side. That return to our strong core value of service above self began this month with four summer service days of meal packing and back to school preparation for the clients of the Thomas Merton Center, Sterling House, and Mercy Learning Center.
Educational Programming - Freshmen Transition Skills Curriculum
Beginning in September 2022, all incoming freshmen will actively participate in our new Freshmen Student Success Program designed to provide a seamless transition from middle school to St. Joseph High School. More specifically, two School Counselors and a team of dedicated SJ staff members will be charged with guiding and supporting the Class of 2026 throughout their transitional year at St. Joes. This is especially important because the Class of 2026 includes students from 34 towns and 55 middle schools. More specifically, this strategic objective calls for the creation of a Freshmen Transition Skills Curriculum which will include academic empowerment, resiliency, executive functioning skills, and personal responsibility. This summer, we have begun the important work of strategically reviewing and analyzing the horizontal and vertical alignment of our curriculum as well as the expansion of experiential learning opportunities for students of all grades.
Marketing & Enrollment Management (MEM) Team - Website Redesign
In January 2022, Jessica Costa, Maria Martinez, and the Board of Directors MEM Committee began the process to upgrade the SJHS website. The new platform adds a level of interactivity, engagement, and data analysis to enhance our ability to share the story of the St. Joes value proposition and the user experience for current parents and students. The site development is on schedule for an August 2022 launch. Throughout the spring and summer months, new photo and video marketing have been captured for the website and strategic advertising. Further, we have initiated the roll-out of our new marketing story, "On a Mission for More,” which will celebrate current and former Cadet achievement and be featured prominently on the new Website Redesign scheduled to launch next month. A tour of our new site, its features and user accessibility will be sent to you soon!
Institutional Advancement - Ruotolo Associates Assessment and Pre-Campaign Study
The Board of Directors engaged Ruotolo Associates in February 2022 to conduct an Advancement Office Assessment and Pre-Campaign Study. The Advancement Office Assessment has been completed and the final report was thoroughly vetted by an internal subcommittee of the Board of Directors and presented to the Institutional Advancement (IA) Team on Monday, July 11, 2022. The final report will guide the strategic focus and refine the day-to-day activities and operations of our dedicated IA Team.
The Pre-Campaign Study work also officially began on Tuesday, June 7, 2022 and is expected to take approximately 8-weeks. That important work will provide valuable expertise from the Ruotolo Associates Team in the process of conducting a successful campaign and determining our fundraising capacity for future facilities enhancements at SJHS. Interviews and Focus Groups with SJ community members will commence in the coming weeks - exciting times ahead!
Facilities & Technology Infrastructure - DRA Facilities Assessment
In July 2021, a facilities subcommittee of the Board of Directors interviewed vetted firms selected in response to an RFP for a Comprehensive Facilities Assessment. Following in-person presentations, the aforementioned facilities subcommittee recommended Drummey Rosane Anderson (DRA), Inc. to the Executive Committee for approval and engagement. DRA began their Comprehensive Facilities Assessment of the SJHS building and grounds in August 2021. During the period (August 2021 – January 2022), the DRA Team visited the Campus numerous times to evaluate the facility and infrastructure, met with the SJHS Facilities Team and conducted Focus Group Sessions with the Board of Directors (BOD), employees, students, BOD Committees and highly engaged external constituents.
The DRA Team returned to SJHS on Monday, March 14, 2022, for a Special BOD meeting to present their findings and share some conceptual solutions that could be properly responsive to the thoughtful input/suggestions generated from the Focus Group Sessions. DRA is finalizing their evaluative work based upon additional feedback provided to them. Through the “Listening and Gaining Understanding Process,” DRA identified four areas of necessary focus: Student Experience (Corridors, Lighting, Bathrooms, Climatic Controls (HVAC) and Classroom Technology Integration); Student Gathering Space (Cafeteria/Commons, Visual & Performing Arts Space and Common Interactive Areas); Athletics (Auxiliary Gymnasium/
Additionally, the summer project which resurfaced the entire SJ track and paved pedestrian walk ways near the athletic fields will be ready for our students to enjoy by the start of the academic school year!
As you can see, we are diligently operationalizing our Strategic Priorities and looking to the future with great confidence and optimism. We are St. Joes - On a Mission for More!
Enjoy the remaining weeks of Summer 2022, and please stop by and say "hello" if you are on Campus and/or in the SJ neighborhood.
In Faith and Fellowship,
David J. Klein