Our school community
Now, and to the future...
It has been a busy winter here at St. Paul’s School, and we’re eager and excited to welcome the coming of spring. Our maintenance and grounds staff has been busily battling the blessings of rain, while at the same time getting our campus ready for our accreditation visit. Our lunch staff has updated their menu options with fresh, delicious, and healthy items; and new lunchtime procedures are in place that facilitate efficiency. We’re also working on clean up procedures that instill a sense of school ownership in our students in an effort to evoke an ethic of care. The Snack Shack continues to offer a wide array of healthy and delicious choices to students, with the hottest items being the homemade avocado toast and breakfast burritos. However, for those who like to snack on sweet bites, we have a few options for them as well. Overall, we are quite proud to offer our children a wide array of delicious and healthier snack options.
The teachers have been quite busy as well, digging deep into their curriculum and pedagogy to provide the best educative experiences that they can. One of the identifying commitments of St. Paul’s School is our focus on experiential learning through meaningful, academic oriented field trips; and we’ve had a bunch of them this late winter. Inside our classrooms, our primary and intermediate teachers have been working hard to blend the learning experiences of students, and are committed to increasing the educative value of their centers. Beginning this second semester, our coaches are facilitating peer to peer observations, a fundamentally important component of professional growth. At the middle school, we are taking a deep breath and evaluating our practices and procedures in an ongoing effort to provide a unique learning opportunity to our students. Along with an increased STEAM orientation of our middle school, our teaching staff is imagining what learning experiences might look like when we place student production and performance at the center of their schooling. We do not want our students to be passive recipients of information, rather meaningful producers of understanding and knowledge, and civically engaged in their communities. Needless to say, this is no small undertaking, but our staff is dedicated to meeting these goals while continuing to offer a top notch academic environment for our student. To that end, we are also focused on piloting the implementation of Pre-AP courses in the 8th grade. The College Board will make this curricular designation available to middle schools in the fall of 2020, and we will work diligently to be one of these pilot schools.
In the front office, we’ve been laser focused on creating a budget that is financially responsible, but also one that addresses the ‘need for’ and ‘commitment to’ academic excellence in a shifting educational landscape. In an overall sense, our projected budget is predicated on a few needs and values that we think articulate well with St. Paul’s School’s historic mission, but also establishes a firm foundation as we look forward to our future. What follows is a brief explanation of our greatest commitments for the 2019/2020 academic year. In a nutshell, our budget goals are all about our teachers. The projected budget is built in the hopes of maintaining current staffing levels, and a commitment to build a salary schedule that is more competitive with our surrounding districts. Our goals here are quite simple, we want to retain and recruit the best educators that we can. Although our evaluation of practices has led us to the conclusion that we can staff our school more effectively, our needs and growth mindset warrant staffing levels to remain consistent, and for their salaries to improve. Additionally, following our first round of teacher observations, we feel that an increased investment in teacher education and professional development opportunities (increase STEAM orientation) is one of the best ways for us to continue to pursue academic excellence for our students, and to address the pedagogical and curricular needs of our teachers. Although schools are complex ecosystems with myriad fundamental parts, it’s hard to argue against the fact that teachers are very much the heart and soul of our institution. Thus, it is my commitment to our St. Paul’s School families to continue the professional growth opportunities for our current teachers, and when the need arises, to recruit the best teacher candidate that we can.
We have a lot on our plate here at St. Paul’s School, but we’re eager for the coming year and the opportunity to provide a unique educational experience of “love and learning” for our students, and for the greater Visalia community. If you would like to discuss our plans and goals for the coming year, or wonder how you can become a bigger part of our school and our efforts, please get in touch.
Seth W. Yocum
Head of School
St. Paul’s School
On January 24th the 7th grade went to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, CA. As we walked up to the entrance of the museum we were greeted by a large white dog sculpture designed by contemporary artist Yoshitomo Nara. The class was divided into 3 groups and each group was guided by a docent. Our docent guided us to an exhibit of a traditional Japanese tea house. The docent had pointed out a vessel that was traditionally used to cleanse your hands before entering the tea house. After the tea house, our docent took us to a large statue of Buddha and explained the importance of meditation. We were then introduced to the traditional art of Japanese brush painting. Each of us were given hemp seed paper, a brush made out of horse hair, and a small bowl of ink. We were taught to paint a bamboo tree, as well as a painting created with one stroke of the brush. Following our painting instruction we were allowed one hour of free time to explore the rest of the museum with our group. After our hour of free time, the class boarded the bus and headed back to St. Paul’s where our parents were waiting to pick us up.
On the first Monday in November, the St. Paul’s School 4th grade classes loaded the bus to see the San Antonio Mission. This mission, built in 1771, is located in JolonCalifornia, just West of Kings City off the 101. We started around 6:30 am, and the over 3 hour bus ride was long. We did take a break at Paso Robles and had a tasty snack. Then we packed up the bus and away we went!
When we first got to the mission, we went on a tour of the entire mission property. This made everything we were studying in social studies come alive. On our tour, the class saw the brick kiln. It was hard to imagine that this kiln made the bricks for the San Antonio Mission that have held together for almost 250 years. Then, we visited the grist mill. I found myself having mixed emotions during this point. First, I was thinking about how they made their own unleavened bread for communion, but also thinking about how it was almost lunch time and a fresh warm bread would hit the spot. Finally, we saw the interior of the mission. The most memorable by far was the music room due to the fact that the room played music and displayed instruments from the mission’s time. The other rooms more explained the mission’s history, which you can check out at http://missionsanantonio.
As soon as we were done at the mission, we packed up and set off. We did basically the same schedule as before except we were two hours quicker. I very much enjoyed the field trip to Mission San Antonio De Padua. I would like to thank the 4th grade teachers for planning such a great educational trip and to the many chaperones for making this trip possible for my peers and me.