Principal’s Message August 2015

Dear Parents,

I hope this summer newsletter finds you well! Before looking ahead to another year, I want to first thank you for providing such tremendous support to our school community over the past year. On behalf of our teachers and staff, I am grateful for the many ways you, as the primary educators, foster learning and the spiritual development of our children; this past year in our school was filled with meaningful prayer experiences, educational and spiritual growth, and even a few surprises (who remembers Dr. Jane Goodall’s visit in December?).

As we near the start of another school year, I want to provide you with updates in a few areas: 1) our plans to renovate the play area; 2) security updates; 3) new staff for 2015-2016; 4) goals for the upcoming year; and 5) calendar highlights.

Play Area Renovation

We have completed a master plan for a new play space and gathering area for our students and faculty, and are now moving forward with phase I of the playground renovation project. This summer’s work includes basic demolition and resurfacing of the turf area. Please be aware that there will be finishing touches made to the project during the initial weeks of school and the space may be temporarily off limits. I ask for everyone’s patience and understanding during these first weeks of school. Because student safety is our number one priority, we will alert you to any special instructions regarding access to certain areas of the campus.

We are on track for phase I to begin on August 15. Future phases will include a learning structure and other playground/safety enhancements.  The parish has contributed significantly to this initial phase, but future efforts will rely heavily on the participation of the school community.

This summer’s renovation also includes the addition of a learning garden. The new garden space will be added to the Ramona side of campus with educational and nutritional opportunities for our students. The garden has been funded through grants and will be installed by Enrich LA on August 28. I am grateful to Shannon Porter, who in her first year at Holy Family, has worked very hard to acquire various grants to improve our physical space.

Security Updates 

Plans are also under way to increase security measures around and within Holy Family. After many months of consultation with our security advisers, installation of our security plan will be launched this fall with perimeter fencing, landscaping and controlled access. Again, our parish has been instrumental in both the planning and funding aspects of this project. The over-arching goal is to improve our security during school hours while maintaining the integrity and feel of Holy Family’s campus and grounds. I will continue to keep you posted with additional information on this project as the architectural drawings are finalized over the next few weeks.

New Staff for 2015-2016

I am excited to introduce two new teachers who will be joining Holy Family School in 2015-2016:

Ms. Heidi Sicka will join our kindergarten program, and will teach one of the two morning cohorts. For the past 18 years, Ms. Sicka has worked at St. James Parish Day School in various capacities, including as a lead teacher. She is student-focused, energetic, and brings a wealth of experience to our program. Together with Ms. Fadly, they will work to give our youngest students a strong start to their education at Holy Family School.

Mrs. Rosie Etters will be our new Spanish teacher in the primary grades. For the past six years Mrs. Etters has taught 2nd grade at St. Philip the Apostle School in Pasadena, where she advanced student learning by focusing on critical thinking, role-play, and incorporating the child’s own learning experience. She is a native speaker of Spanish, and is very excited to be entering this new phase in her teaching career. She will work closely with Ms. Aceves, our middle school Spanish teacher, to create a seamless program that prepares our students for the rigors of high school and beyond.

I am also happy to announce that Ms. Ericka Giordano will serve as the school’s new library technician. Ms. Giordano, who is well known to all at HFS, has previously served under the tutelage of Mrs. McCully, who is retiring after 31 years as our school librarian. Ms. Giordano (who will also continue with TWS), brings a wealth of experience and creative energy to her new role.

Goals for 2015-2016

This past year, we implemented various new initiatives to enhance our school program. These included increased professional development time for teachers, a revised Spanish program, an electives program in the middle school, a new model for our kindergarten program, the addition of a school counselor, and the expansion of our one-to-one technology program. With these changes mostly in place, our focus for the coming year will be the day-to-day operations of the school, including revisions to our school-wide discipline plan; additionally, our faculty will focus on their instructional competency as educators through ongoing professional development. The feedback recently provided through the surveys to our parent community is a helpful piece in setting a direction for the future. I want to thank all those who took the time to share ideas that will help strengthen our school program.

In the next few weeks I will be providing additional information with regard to the above. I will also be sharing important information about the new standardized assessment plan for all K-8 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Important (early) Dates (please refer to the HFS website for additional information and updates)

September 1              Drop-in Day
September 2              First Day of School (noon dismissal)
September 2              Kindergarten Orientation 10:45 – 11:45 (parents only)
September 2              Time Well Spent (TWS) begins
September 3-4           STAR testing (more info to follow on this)
September 3              Middle School Articulation Night
September 8              First day for Kindergarten in Uniform
September 9              Parent Guild Meeting
September 15             Articulation Night, Grades 1-5 6:30 p.m.
September 20            HFS Picnic at Garfield Park

Until we gather again as a school community in September, I wish you all very safe and restful final weeks of summer!

Frank Montejano, Ed.D.