Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth. (1 Corinthians: 3:7)
I hope you are refreshed and still enjoying the last few weeks of summer. For myself, I am balancing my time between tutoring, relaxing and preparing for the upcoming school year. Today, I am working from my deck on a gorgeous day. Such a blessing!
During the summer when I am able to take time off from school, one of my favorite hobbies is tending to my gardens. Ask me to dust, and I will find any excuse not to; ask me to pull up each tiny weed among my lilies, however, and I’m on it. I enjoy digging my hands deep into the soil, and I especially love how cathartic pulling out a stubborn weed feels. As I make my way along patches planting and tending to my flowers, I allow my mind to wander and rest in prayer. I actually converse with God, at times pouring out my gratitude and begging for the fortitude to endure life’s unexpected hurdles. Most often, I try to empty my mind completely so that I might hear his call. It's no wonder that Jesus picked a garden in which to have his most serious exchange with God. Outside of the Tabernacle, my garden is where I feel his presence most.
As I till my flowers and pray, I naturally think about St. Ann’s and the upcoming school year, our goals and needs, and what I want to say to all of my families to both inform and excite them on the most recent developments. Since I have alluded to my garden, I thought this might be the perfect metaphor to use to foreshadow a bit about the 2019- 20 school year.
- WEEDING - As described, the first task I set about is weeding, which is necessary for supporting the growth of my flowers and creating space for new growth. This year, our primary "weeding" focused on the K-5 Social Studies curriculum to make way for one that focuses on topics and learning styles of today’s students. HMH’s “Into Social Studies” brings current news to life and supports our goal of engaging students to think globally, especially as it pertains to our Catholic Mission on Social Justice.
In addition to curriculum, I have combed through activities, weeding those that could no longer be supported or had run their course. In doing so, I have created more space for other opportunities, especially those activities that support spiritual growth. This year, in the Middle School, each grade will experience a retreat, and all grades will work on coordinating their schedules to continue serving others in our community throughout the school year.
Weeding also creates space for the remaining plants to thrive which is what we are actively doing as we finalize our playground and welcome a newly paved parking lot for our children. Mr. Lynch has been busy, planning the painting of courts and games, and lawn games, such as a giant “Connect Four,” have been purchased. Finally, with much “thanks” to the St. Ann School Class of 2019, we will be adding a beautiful bench on which kids may sit and use as a “buddy” bench.
- TRIMMING AND RELOCATING - Once I have tackled the weeds, I focus next on trimming and relocating plants that have flourished and need space to grow. One of our most successful initiatives last year was the focus on students who have either been diagnosed or identified as having traits of dyslexia. With the help of teachers and volunteers, we planted seeds to serve them with one-on-one tutoring. Quickly, however, the seeds sprouted and before we knew it, we were a bit overwhelmed by the amazing success and growth of the Barton Reading Program. This planting led to a wider discussion with teachers who identified the desire to implement steps to improve literacy among K-8 students. Two major things will happen this year; first, we will work on aligning our K-8 Literacy standards; second, we will schedule weekly blocks of time devoted entirely on modeling and reading for pleasure. During DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, Barton tutors will continue tutoring students one-on-one.
- INTRODUCE NEW PLANTS - Weeding and splitting also means that I am able to introduce new plants that will both complement those that are long established while adding to the overall aesthetics of my garden. I am so happy to welcome new children to St. Ann’s - which currently totals more than 23, from 4K-8th grades!
In addition, I am thrilled to be reintroducing some familiar faces to St. Ann's after some restructuring. Mariette Donovan, who has served a number of roles at St. Ann's, will be teaching music. K-5 will meet twice a week, while Music will join Band as an elective for 6-8. In addition, Natalie Nemeckay has graciously offered to continue Dance instruction for K-4 at various times throughout the year. Another move involves the Educational Assistants. I am thrilled to finally bring Diana Probst on full-time as the K-1 EA and welcome Tonya Klevin to the Staff as the part-time EA for 4th grade. St. Ann's will also be welcoming other familiar faces on staff as I fill Diana's role as recess supervisor. Watch for updates as they become available.
- SUN AND WATER - Lastly, my garden could not be complete without the sun and water that nourishes the young shoots and helps ground the roots. God's infinite love for us and, most importantly, our children, is always at the forefront as I toil each day. As St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians so eloquently states, as parents and staff, we work diligently to care for our children, but it is only with God's love that they grow into healthy young men and women.
In addition, I heard from several parents that they were searching for a more printer-friendly version of our weekly newsletter and a more efficient way to access the newsletter. Thanks to Lynn and Kennan Wood, the request has been completed. Again, watch for details when they become available. Speaking of website, be sure to visit ours often for the latest news and resources.