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Now, and to the future . . .

March 20, 2019
By Seth Yocum- Head of School

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.

 

Kind Regards,

 

Seth W. Yocum

Head of School

St. Paul’s School