New School Initiatives: Modified Calendar Enables Faculty Professional Development

July 2014

Dear Parents,

In anticipation of an exciting year, I am writing to discuss the school calendar and staffing changes at Holy Family School for the 2014-2015 school year. I have also recently shared information about our one-to-one iPad program and ongoing implementation of the common core. If you missed these communications, you can read them via the principal’s corner of the school website.

School Calendar. As I noted at a parent meeting this past year, we have modified the school calendar for 2014-2015 in order to increase professional staff development time in critical areas. This additional time will be used solely for faculty training and careful team planning (and not for such things as grading papers or lesson planning). Specifically, we have added early dismissal days on (roughly) one Friday a month to work on implementation of the Common Core and our one-to-one iPad program; the added training time will be critical in helping the staff to effectively implement these important initiatives.

This change will not take away from our overall instructional minutes because of careful planning and increased efficiency. First, we have restored some days that had been shortened in the past to full days. We are also modifying our weekly student assembly to streamline communication and increase our instructional minutes. Finally, with our revamped Spanish program, we will save minutes by having the teacher move to the students rather than having the students change classes (as we had done in the past). These changes allow us to continue to meet the time allotment requirements set forth by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Recently, Mrs. Lopez sent an email with important updates for the coming year. Please be sure to read this email in order to ensure a smooth start to the year. As she noted, dates are subject to change, so please refer to the website regularly for updates.

Additionally, we have added an elective program to our middle school; these classes will be offered on Friday afternoons during school hours for students in grades 6-8. The purpose of the middle school electives program is to broaden the curriculum and enhance student engagement at the middle school level. In the first trimester, we are offering such classes as dance, graphic art, student leadership, honors choir and speech/debate. The options will change each trimester and students will have the opportunity to explore new and exciting areas of study that will include additional classes such as robotics, computer programming, drama and guitar.

Staffing Changes.  In an effort to strengthen our kindergarten program, we have initiated a change that will impact staffing. Specifically, we are planning to divide the class for a portion of the day in order to provide more individualized instruction at this critical stage of a child’s educational development. As a result, I am happy to announce that Mrs. Roth will be added to the kindergarten program staff as a part-time teacher; she will team with Mrs. Fadly, who has been our kindergarten teacher for several years.

I am grateful to Mrs. Roth, who has served successfully as the school’s first grade teacher for a number of years. After learning that we were creating this new position, Mrs. Roth approached me about the opportunity; we both quickly realized the move would allow her to spend more time with her young children, and the school would keep an effective teacher on staff.

I am also happy to announce that Ms. Carrie Levin will be the new first grade teacher at Holy Family School. Ms. Levin is certainly well known to all at Holy Family School, as she has served as an aide in kindergarten and most recently as a long-term substitute in first grade. She comes to us with a terrific background and I am excited about what she will bring to our school program in this new capacity.

Additionally, I am pleased to inform you that Mrs. Fran Smiland will be the new 7th grade home room and middle school Math teacher at Holy Family School. Mrs. Smiland has been an important part of our middle school program for many years, as she has served as an aide and director of the GAINS Math program. She is respected by her colleagues, students, and parents, and will no doubt make a positive impact in her new role.

Finally, I want to inform you that we are hiring Mrs. Liz Aceves to be a part of our revamped Spanish program. Mrs. Aceves, who will teach in the middle school, will partner with Mrs. Solis, our longtime Spanish teacher, who will work primarily with students at the primary level. This change allows us important flexibility in the program, as we have increased our instructional minutes throughout the grades.

With these new additions, we have added to our strong foundation for the coming year. I hope you will join me in welcoming our newest teachers to Holy Family School.


Frank Montejano, Ed.D.