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Considering the year ahead


Saint Paul’s School Community,

The energy that pervades the school at the beginning of each year is impressive.  In just a few short days, the school shakes off the slumber of a well-deserved summer break and comes alive with the hopes, dreams, desires, and passions of teachers, families, and students alike.  It was good to feel that energy again as teachers returned earlier this week to prepare for the coming year.  It was good to feel that energy as families filled the hallways and chapel for our “Day Zero” orientation.  But as good as the past few days have felt, it all pales a bit in comparison to the energy that tomorrow morning will bring.  


It almost seems a bad omen to evoke the notion of normalcy; we have all been burned by that one before.   Still, it is hard for me not to look at the coming year without feeling a great sense of optimism about our direction, and collective intention to serve the student and mission of Saint Paul’s School better than ever.  There has been a lot going on over the past four years, and a lot yet to look forward to in the year to come.


Ray and Brandon have done an exceptional job managing and maintaining the facilities this summer.   The parking lot has again been resurfaced, as well as a fresh new coat of paint and striping on the basketball courts.   The chapel has been entirely repainted and the floors scrubbed and waxed (removing 18 years of build-up in the process).   Several of the teacher rooms have been painted, and all the classrooms in the 200 building now have new floor and chairs.  As you have likely seen, Saint Paul’s School is going solar, and the panels should be up and running by the close of the week. We still have the 100-building roof to replace, and A/C units to upgrade, but that work will have to wait for fall break.   And that not to mention the myriad other projects they been pouring their time into to improve the life of the school.


At our June Annual Corporate Meeting, the Saint Paul’s School Board of Trustees approved our strategic plan which will guide the work of the board, administrative team, and community over the next three to five years.  I am excited to share an overview of our strategic plan and extensive list of initiatives prior to the Back-to-School Night activities on Thursday, August 18th.   This work is the culmination of hundreds of hours of community collaboration and will pave the way for a stronger Saint Paul’s School of the future.


We are happy to report that there will be some significant changes to our programming aimed at the safety of our school campus.  In consultation with the Visalia Police Department, we have updated some of our practices and procedures to further secure our campus during hours of operation.  Beginning at 8:15am tomorrow morning, all pedestrian gates will be locked for the duration of the school day excluding the pick-up hour.   Any parent or student arriving after 8:15am must check in at the office before entering campus.  We have also created a campus Safety and Security Team consisting of faculty and staff who will regularly review our safety procedures, protocols, and performance on regular emergency drills.  We have also joined TCOE’s ActVnet program aimed at significantly improving campus security.  These are just a few of the measures we are taking to keep our kids safely in school.   Along these lines, expect some significant changes with Kids on Campus program as well.  After 4:00pm, all students must be check out through the office.  No longer will parents check their kids out of each classroom.  Ana Barba will be sending out more information soon.  


We have made some educational programming changes that will help strengthen our commitment to high academic standards.  We hired a second Spanish teacher so that we now have Spanish language instruction for all students in kindergarten through 8th grade.  We have revamped our middle school schedule so that Fridays are no longer dedicated to sports.  This year we will be focusing Fridays on student achievement by prioritizing student collaboration, curricular looping, concept reteaching, and ensuring student competency.  We have modified our electives schedule so that middle school students are now required to take a prescribed course of enrichment classes that better prepare them for high school success and promote high academic standards.  Additionally, we have added teaching assistance at all levels of instruction to help better serve the specific learning needs of our kids.  Not to fret, we will still have a competitive athletics program and vibrant elective offerings.  


This year Saint Paul’s School has joined the Kaweah Athletic League which will move our middle school games to Tuesday and Thursday after school.  Aside the benefit of freeing up Fridays for academic achievement, it partners us with several local school against which our kids can compete.  As such, our practice schedule will likely fall to Mondays and Wednesdays, with the option of practicing on Fridays at the coaches’ discretion.   More information on sports will be coming shortly from Ana Barba and Casey Glenn.  In truth, these are just a few of the many ways that Saint Paul’s School is continuing to improve our educational programming to serve our students and the mission of our school.  


After a restful summer and a great deal of time spent considering the four years past, I take a great deal of pride in all the ways our community has achieved against the odds.   Although imperfect, when I think about all that we have done amidst a world turned on its head, I could not be prouder than to serve as the head of Saint Paul’s School.  With that, I want to apologize for not keeping up effective communication over the year past.  Although there is a list of reasons why that happened, I promise that moving forward, I will do a better job of communicating with the community on a regular basis and sharing all the wonderful ways that Saint Paul’s School continues to grow as a complex ecosystem focused intently on providing “a learning environment of high academic standards in a Christian environment.”


Until tomorrow,


Seth W. Yocum, Ed.D.

Head of School

Saint Paul’s School