Principal’s Message


Anne Regan-Smith
Interim Principal
Holy Family School



 March 28, 2019 

Dear Holy Family School Community, 

Thank you to all of you for your patience and support during the search for a new principal at Holy Family School.

Mrs. Darcie Girmus – New Principal for Holy Family Catholic School

We are pleased to announce that a new principal has been selected! She will join our community July 2019.

It has been a tremendous job and one that was done out of love for the school and the community. All of the members of the Search Committee are parents of either former or current Holy Family School students and we are deeply invested in the future success of Holy Family School. 

Our job to find a new principal began in May 2018 after Dr. Montejano announced his decision to step down as Principal of Holy Family School. We approached this task by moving through stages of a process that we determined would yield viable candidates for the position. Our goal was to identify two or three strong candidates who would be finalists for this position to visit on campus to meet our community. We launched the process with a series of stakeholder meetings with faculty, parents and Holy Family staff to identify the priorities for the new principal. The qualities that were continually requested were that the individual be an educational leader, a spiritual leader and an effective communicator with the entire community. 

Once the criteria for the principal was defined, we moved to the second phase of the process. We developed a profile for the position and conducted a broad outreach, which included advertising the position through multiple sources and a solicitation of candidate names. We worked collaboratively with the Archdiocese to identify and screen candidates. The final phase was interviewing potential candidates. During that period, our committee reviewed over 30 resumes, participated in over 70 interview hours both by phone and in person (including a dozen candidates) and hosted one finalist for a 2 ½ day on-campus visit. After much discernment, a second finalist for this position (who was in the process of being scheduled for an on-campus visit) withdrew herself from consideration to accept a position outside of the field of education administration. Although we continued to look at other applicants to fulfill the goal of identifying two or three finalists, we were unable to find a strong viable candidate with comparable qualifications for the community to consider. 

We are excited to announce that Mrs. Darcie Girmus has accepted the position of Principal at Holy Family School. We are thrilled that we were able to find such a strong candidate to lead Holy Family. For those of you who did not meet Darcie during her visit here, it is important to know that she has over 32 years of experience as an educator: 16 years in Catholic education and 6 years as Principal. She has a Masters of Arts in Catholic School Leadership and a Masters of Arts in Curriculum and Instruction. She has been the Principal at St. Mark Catholic School in Vienna, Virginia, for 6 years, after serving as an Assistant Principal and teacher. It is her wealth of experience in leadership and teaching in Catholic education that made her such a strong candidate for this position. 

Many of you concurred with this positive assessment from meeting Darcie during her visit here earlier this month. Survey results revealed that an overwhelming majority of the stakeholders gave her a positive endorsement. In speaking with her references, they endorsed the outstanding qualities that many of us saw in Darcie which speak to her commitment, dedication to quality instruction, and her success in supporting faculty and students. She is a devoted Catholic who lives her faith. Darcie is highly supportive of teachers and their needs and a strong communicator with parents and faculty. By listening closely to parents and faculty, she works to build consensus throughout the community she serves. Darcie is passionate about doing what is best for the children at her school. She is very involved and dedicates extra time to attend after-school activities. Darcie’s development of a program of academic excellence at St. Mark’s and her passion for serving children makes her a perfect fit for our community. We believe that we have found a strong leader who appreciates the excellent reputation Holy Family enjoys throughout the Archdiocese. Darcie will be a very capable steward of that tradition moving forward. 

We hope you will join us in giving Darcie a warm welcome to our wonderful Holy Family community. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Mimi Butler at In the coming weeks, we will share more details about Darcie’s transition to Holy Family School and when she will officially step into her leadership role. 

We would not be in this position today without the support of Anne Regan-Smith and her generous heart and commitment to Holy Family in serving as Interim Principal during this school year. With Anne’s support and dedication in this role, the Search Committee was able to follow a robust, diligent and careful process to yield an extremely qualified candidate. We are grateful for her leadership this past year. 

With thanks, 

Mimi Butler, Chair, HFS Principal Search Committee 

Cambria Tortorelli, Holy Family Church Parish Life Director 

Christina Altmayer, President, HFS Board President 

August 17, 2018

Dear Parents, 

It’s my pleasure to welcome you and your children back to Holy Family School for the 2018- 2019 academic year. 

I am looking forward to seeing the students’ faces as they return rested and enthusiastic for what promises to be a very exciting next step in their growth. A special welcome to the families who will be joining us for the first time. 

The year ahead will be one of spiritual, academic, social and physical development for your child. We, the administrators, faculty, and staff pledge to work together with you, the primary educators of your children, to promote their success. 

Recognition and Gratitude: 

I am very grateful to all the parish and school staff who have worked so hard this summer to prepare for the beginning of school Thanks to the Parent Guild President, Heather Timmons, the Vice-President, Daniela Derriman, and their team for the beautiful job they have done in welcoming new families and planning events for the year. 

Updated Reading Series (Houghton/Mifflin) 

Grades 1-5 have received the new, updated version of the Houghton/Mifflin reading series, entitled “Journeys.” The teachers, as well as the aides, will receive training before the beginning of school in the best practices of this multi-faceted program. Special emphasis will be placed on the use of “Differentiated Learning.” 

Facility additions and renovations: 

In response to a recommendation from the Safety Committee, headed by Joe Chavez, the back entrance to the school from Ramona Street has new fencing and added security features. Thanks to Arnold Fernandez, the contractor, for his creativity in maintaining the architectural style of the surrounding neighborhood. 

The Time Well Spent house (TWS) and the Kindergarten (Cabrini and Seton houses) have received a new exterior paint job. In addition, the interior of TWS has been painted and new furniture has been added. The south and east exterior walls of the Education Center and the 5th-grade classroom have also received a new coat of paint. 

The Scouts, under the direction of Larry Chiles, have rearranged and decorated the two garden areas by the Kindergarten classrooms. Additional lunch tables have been installed in the second garden area for use by the 8th graders. 

New equipment and additional shades have been added to the play structure. Thanks to Shannon Porter, Michael James, and Jackie Ficht (our school nurse) for raising the $20,000 necessary for their purchase and the installation. 

Staff and Faculty Changes: 

Our best wishes to those who have changed careers or who have accepted positions in other schools: Nick Azzara, Roxanne Basso, Juaneeq Eliott, Adrian Flores, Megan Jarjour, Karen Maguire and Fran Smiland

A special welcome to our new staff members and to those who have new assignments:

  • Diane Ciulla, GAINS program
  • Sheila Laco, GAINS program
  • Rachel Miller, TA, Language Arts
  • Amanda Orozco, TA in 4th grade 
  • April Nishinaka, TA in 7th and 8th grade
  • America Trinh, Spanish teacher, K-5
  • Frank Solano, 7th-grade teacher 
  • Marina De La Rosa, Technology teacher  

Faculty and Staff Prepare for New School Year 

This coming week, the faculty and staff will be busy preparing for the opening of school: Meetings, training, planning, and a parish/school staff retreat. Thanks to Ms. Cambria Tortorelli, Parish Life Director, and Dawn Ponnet, Director of Faith Formation, for facilitating the retreat. Please keep all of us in your prayers. 

Academic Decathlon 2018-2019 

The Academic Decathlon team has been busy during the summer developing problem-solving skills, especially in Logic. Thanks to Ms. Diane Evans and Mr. Jake Mota, as well as parents of students on the team. All of them are clearly excited about meeting the challenges of this competitive event, which will take place in March 2019. 

Student Council Already on the Job! 

It was so inspiring to visit with the Student Council members and to watch them plan for the year ahead. The group, led by the president Julianna Zwart, chose “It’s Fun to Do the Impossible,” as the theme for the year. They discussed goals and activities that will promote school spirit. A special thanks to Ms. Ericka Giordano, who, as moderator of the Student Council encourages and guides students to become leaders. 

These courageous and faith-filled young people make us all very proud! 

WASC Accreditation 

On February 12-13, 2019, our school will be undergoing the WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation. As part of this process, the school will be placing special emphasis on the Student Learning Expectations (SLEs). You can find the SLEs in the updated Parent-Student Handbook, which will be available online next week. 


Anne Regan-Smith

July 27, 2018

Anne Regan-Smith
Interim Principal
Holy Family School

RE: Middle School Math & Science Teacher Update

Dear Parents,

I hope you are having a wonderful summer!

Following a careful and somewhat exhaustive search, I have hired a seventh-grade homeroom teacher to replace Fran Smiland.  Frank Solano comes highly recommended by the pastor and the school administrators St. Mark Catholic School in Venice, CA.  He attended St. Thomas More Catholic School  Cathedral High School, and graduated from California State University, Los Angeles. As a resident of Alhambra, he was happy to find a job much closer to home so that he can spend more time with family.

Mr. Solano has taught at Serra High School in Gardena, as well as at St. Mark Middle School.  His high school experience gives him the advantage of knowing the expectations of Catholic High Schools.  I was impressed with the initiative he showed in beginning an after-school program for students at St. Mark who needed additional help.


He will teach math (grades 6, 7, and 8) and science (grade 8), with the assistance of April Ninishaka, an instructional aide who has worked in Holy Family Middle School for the past three years.  He enjoys the challenge of middle school and finds the enthusiasm of this age group a real asset to learning.

His son, Frank Solano Jr., will be joining the Holy Family Kindergarten class this fall.

I would like to thank Kathy Holtsnider and Diane Cullinane, members of the search committee, who dedicated numerous hours in scheduling and conducting interviews with job candidates.  Their input was invaluable in my selection of Mr. Solano.  We are confident he will do an excellent job!


Anne Regan-Smith

July 26, 2018

Anne Regan-Smith
Interim Principal
Holy Family School

RE: Principal Search Update

Dear Parents,

Summer greetings to you all!  We hope that you are having a restful and relaxing summer with your children.  With the support of the School Board and under the generous leadership of Anne Regan-Smith, we have had a busy summer preparing for the 2018/19 school year.

First, Christina Altmayer and I are emailing to update you on the progress being made by the Principal Search Committee, which has been working diligently throughout the summer to recruit and select our new HFS Principal.  The process is well underway and we are using multiple strategies, including proactively sourcing viable candidates, to identify the right person for this critical position.

At this point in the search, we have received resumes from a number of different candidates and have conducted an initial set of preliminary interviews.  While we are continuing to explore the most suitable of the current candidates, we are planning to continue the search into the Fall to identify additional qualified candidates to deepen the pool from which to make a selection. As we previously conveyed, we are committed to taking the time necessary to find the best candidate for this important position and the Search Committee is confident that this strategy will yield an exceptional result.

Secondly, we want to assure you that we have developed a comprehensive plan to support Holy Family’s continued success during this interim period.  With Mrs. Regan-Smith at the helm as Interim Principal, we know that the school is in very capable hands until such time as our new Principal is appointed.  We are deeply grateful to Mrs. Regan-Smith for so graciously stepping up to lead the school during this time of transition.  Her commitment to HFS, as well as her fifteen years of experience as a Principal in three parochial schools, affords us the opportunity of taking a little more time in the search process.  In addition, we have brought on resources to support the WASC accreditation process and will be working with Mrs. Regan-Smith to bring on other resources as needed, especially in the area of professional development.

We appreciate your input in the process to date – over 90 parents participated in our focus groups and the survey.  The feedback we received from many you through the survey and meetings in June emphasized the priority for the Principal to be a very special leader – a dynamic, effective communicator, grounded in our Catholic faith, strong in academics, and with the ability to implement disciplinary policies and procedures consistently in a fair and just manner.  We are doing our very best to find a leader that meets these expectations.  We are committed to continuing your engagement in this process and there will be opportunities for faculty, staff and parents to participate in the later stages of the selection process.

Finally, we want to acknowledge the efforts of all our Principal Search Committee members, but especially Mimi Butler, the Chair, and Michelle Bonoan.  Both have spent countless hours developing the process and the position profile.  Michelle’s expertise as a professional recruiter in education has been absolutely invaluable.

Please don’t hesitate to contact either Christina or myself with any questions or concerns about the search process.  We will be back in touch at the end of August to apprise you of the status of the search at that time.

In the meantime, may your summer be blessed and filled with joy.


Cambria Tortorelli                                        Christina Altmayer
Parish Life Director                                      President, Holy Family School Board

July 3, 2018

Anne Regan-Smith
Interim Principal
Holy Family School

Dear Parents,

Recently, Ms. Cambria Tortorelli, the Parish Life Director, let you know that beginning July 1, 2018, I will serve as interim principal of Holy Family School.  When the Search Committee has selected the best candidate for the job, I will resume my responsibilities as Vice Principal.

I am humbled by the trust that Ms. Tortorelli has placed in me, and grateful to have had the opportunity during this past year to get to know the school community.    Holy Family School is blessed to have dedicated parents, teachers, staff, and supportive parish leadership.

I have come to appreciate the school’s well-deserved reputation for academic excellence.  More importantly, I feel honored to contribute to a long tradition of preparing students for a life of faith and service.

I believe that parents are the primary educators of their children, and I am committed to supporting you in your important vocation. Please be assured of my prayers for your families as you enjoy the summer break,  I look forward to welcoming your sons and daughters back to school on August 27th.  I would also like to offer a special welcome to students and their families who are joining us for the first time.

Please feel free to contact me, either by email ( or by phone (626-799-4354 x 159).

Anne Regan-Smith
Interim Principal

May 9, 2018

Dear Parish and School Community,

I am writing to share some important news. I want to let you know that I have decided this will be my last year as principal of Holy Family School. It was not easy for me to come to this decision, but I feel at this time I am ready for a new challenge in my professional life. I will certainly miss leading this wonderful community, and I also look forward to what may lie ahead for me.

It has been an amazing experience these past five years. My goal has always been to move the school forward and build on the excellent programs and traditions here at Holy Family. Our outstanding students, supportive parents, and excellent teaching and support staff have made so much of what I hoped for a reality.

I also want to thank the parish leadership, the School Board and Parent Guild for their guidance and support.

As I move on I will take with me wonderful memories.

While my time as principal is coming to an end, I hope that my children will continue to benefit from the excellent educational opportunities at Holy Family. And so, God willing, I will not be going far but will continue to be a member of the school community going forward as a parent.

At this time I don’t have any specific information to share about my future plans, but I hope to send a communication before year’s end with more information.

I thank you for your strong support and wish you God’s blessings in the days ahead.


Frank Montejano, Ed.D.


November 17, 2017

Dear School Community,

I write to you with heartfelt gratitude for the many blessings we have in the name of our Holy Family School Community. As we approach Thanksgiving, I am inclined to pause and reflect on what it means to be part of a faith-filled community marked by faith, hope and love.

In fact, because so much good happens each day, it would be impossible to capture the many moments of finding God in each other. But suffice to say it is often best expressed in the ways we reach out to others; whether on behalf of a member of our community who has fallen ill or needs support, neighbors who need food and clothing, or helping people in our country and world ravaged by earthquake, hurricane, or fire—Holy Family stands in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the world, and connects faith with life in ways that make a difference.

As you enjoy this week ahead with your family, I offer my thanks and appreciation for the gift that is our school community, and for all you do to make it such a special place.

We truly have much to celebrate!

Thanksgiving Blessings,

Frank Montejano

August 18, 2017

Dear School Community,

I pray this finds you well, and that your summer has been filled with adventure and excitement (and if not that, I certainly hope it has been a time to rest and relax!)  As we near the start of another year, I want to provide you with important information for the start of the school year.  These include recent staff changes, curriculum updates, and calendar notes to start the year.

Campus News

I am happy to note that for the first time in a couple of years, we do not have to negotiate summer construction on the campus (yeah!). Thanks primarily to your support, our Outdoor Learning Space and enhanced security features are in place and ready to be enjoyed by our students and staff. However, quite a bit of work has taken place in the Education Center interior; specifically, most classrooms have received new flooring and are also getting a fresh coat of paint. Additionally, our new Promethean ActiveBoards are being installed and will be ready for the new school year. The new ActiveBoards will allow us to augment our technology interactions and functionality in the classroom.

Staff Updates

I wish to let you know that Mrs. Anne Murphy made the decision to retire after the conclusion of the 2016-2017 school term. It is difficult for me to fully express my deep gratitude to Mrs. Murphy for her leadership and guidance these past several years at Holy Family School. Parents, staff, and students admired her for her genuine care for all members of our school community. Also, she has been a rock of support and guidance for me. She will truly be missed by us all!

At the same time, I am very excited to announce that Mrs. Anne Regan-Smith will be joining our staff as vice-principal. Anne comes to us with several years of experience as an administrator in Catholic schools. Mrs. Regan-Smith most recently served as the vice-principal for Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary School in Pasadena. She has previously served at All Souls, Incarnation, and St. Charles Borromeo in an administrative capacity; she received her B.A. at the University of San Diego, and has two Masters degrees from the University of Seattle. Please join with me in welcoming Anne to Holy Family School!

Additionally, I wish to introduce new staff members Amanda Mai and Adrian Flores, who will be working in the 5th grade classroom and Spanish program, respectively. I am also happy to announce that Ms. Heaven Sanders will be returning to work at Holy Family! In a previous communication, I took the opportunity to introduce our new 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Moeller. We look forward to welcoming all of them into our school community!

Art At Holy Family School

I am grateful to Mrs. Whitney De Jardin, who over the past several years led our arts appreciation program entitled Meet the Masters. Mrs. DeJardin shared her appreciation for the arts enthusiastically with our students, who benefited greatly from her thoughtful presentations on classical and contemporary artists.

While Mrs. DeJardin has decided to move on, I am pleased at this time to announce that we will be offering a newly integrated art program at Holy Family. We will still be able to continue our appreciation for the arts while incorporating creative art lessons.

Erin Arnold, who will also continue to oversee our technology program, will begin a new position as art teacher, and will share her passion for the visual arts with students in grades Kindergarten through eighth grade. Grades K-5 will now have weekly art classes, and middle school art classes take place on a similar schedule as the previous Meet the Masters classes.

Guided by the National Core Arts Standards and California State Standards for Visual Art, art lessons will emphasize the creative process and allow students opportunities to explore and appreciate their own original expressions.

Ms. Arnold’s love of art has continued to grow throughout her life. Art has always been her focus, from majoring in studio art at Loyola Marymount University, working as a graphic designer and mural painter, and pursuing a credential and masters in art education, and teaching art for eight years at Good Shepherd School in Beverly Hills. She is grateful for the opportunity to teach art at Holy Family School.

Calendar Highlights

Important calendar dates for the busy first days of school are as follows:


Aug. 29 – Drop in day (8:00-11:00)

Aug. 30 – First day of school (grades 1-8); kinder orientation (10:45), noon dismissal

Aug. 31 – Middle School Articulation

Sept. 1 – 8th grade mass/retreat (9:30)

Sept. 4 – 8th graders to CIMI

Sept. 5 – 1st day Kinder (noon dismissal for kinder)

Sept. 6 – Parent Guild mtg @ 7:00 pm

Sept. 10 – “Back to School” Picnic at Garfield Park

Sept. 12 – Grades 1-5 Articulation night

Sept. 13 – Legacy of Learning Campaign kickoff

I look forward to a wonderful start to the year, and to seeing you all very soon!

In Christ,

Frank Montejano


June 9, 2017

Dear School Community,

As we enter into the final days of another school year, I want to reach out to you in appreciation for your support and help in making Holy Family School (HFS) such a special school community. Without the commitment of our parents, guardians, grandparents and friends, HFS would not enjoy the many special programs and events available to us throughout the school year.

At this time, I wish to reflect on some of our successes, as well as provide you with critical updates and plans for the future.

This past year we benefitted from our new Outdoor Leaning Center (OLC) and improved security enhancements. With the OLC, we created a state of the art area for recreation, exploration, and study. Also, our security enhancements and gates helped make our school campus safer by allowing us to better monitor access to campus. These improvements to our physical space met critical needs for the school, and set us up to move confidently into the future.

This year our iPad program continued to grow and thrive, thanks in part to an archdiocesan grant that provided us with 200 new iPads, as well as professional development training for our teachers. Next year will be year two of the grant, and we will again be utilizing the 200 iPads issued to us.

Finally, I wish to thank the Parent Guild for their tremendous support this year. Due to our fundraising success, the Parent Guild was able to purchase new speakers (for the OLC stage), pop up tents (with HFS logos), and provide seed money for our outdoor shade initiative.

The calendar for the 2017-2018 school year has been set. Below are some highlights as you make plans for the summer and the coming year:

Summer School                                 June 26-July 20, 2017
Drop in Day                                        August 28
1st day of school (1-8)                        August 29
1st day of school (kindergarten)         September 5
Last day of school                              June 15, 2018

In fashioning the calendar for 2017-2018, we tried to take into account feedback from parents, via both the survey and general communication. We will no longer have early dismissals on Wednesdays. We have added some noon dismissal days on Friday, which will allow the staff adequate professional meeting and training time. Additionally, we are no longer locked into the trainings prescribed to us by the archdiocese, which made for some unusual quirks on this past year’s calendar.

It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that our 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Lutero, will be leaving Holy Family after 10 wonderful years of service. She has always had a deep concern for her students, and was continually employing new and exciting methods and strategies to bring out the best in them. Her creative use of technology in the classroom was a hallmark of her teaching. Mrs. Lutero is loved and respected by students, parents and staff alike. We will miss her, but we wish her well in her new endeavors beyond the field of Education.

At the same time I am happy to announce that Mrs. Aubrey Moeller will be joining our staff for the 2017-2018 school year. Mrs. Moeller is an experienced Educator, having taught the past 10 years at St. Elizabeth School, Altadena. During that time she has taught different grade levels, served as the school’s Technology Team Leader, and has coordinated the Star Testing Program. She recently completed a technology certification program at LMU. She notes that her “passion lies in teaching young minds, collaborating with colleagues, and assisting other teachers to be their best.” We are very excited to welcome Mrs. Moeller to HFS beginning this fall.

I also want you know that Mrs. DeJardin will no longer be coordinating our Meet the Masters Program (MTM) in the coming year. Whitney has done a terrific job with the program during her time here, and will certainly be missed by all of us.

Our plan for the coming year is to develop a creative arts program where students can experience different forms of art expression. We will still continue to foster an appreciation for the arts as we did with MTM, but we hope to grow the program and provide additional art instruction time for our students. I plan to have more detailed information soon, so stay tuned.

The Holy Family auction this year was a tremendous success! This year’s Paddle Raise garnered $40,500 that will be used to renovate classrooms inside our Education Center. It will include new paint, flooring and technology upgrades. We are excited to get started on these upgrades so that come August 29 (the first day of school), our school interior will have a fresh new look. Sincere thanks to all who contributed to the success of the auction!


Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

June 8, 2017

Dear School Community,

Thanks to a very successful paddle raise at this year’s Carnevale Auction, we are happy to announce that we will be making significant improvements to our Education Center Classrooms this summer. The generous $40,000 that auction participants donated on behalf of this effort will enable us to update all the classrooms with fresh paint, brand-new flooring and several new Smart boards.

If you missed the opportunity to make a donation, it is not too late to be a part of this transformation that will carry our Holy Family Education Center into the next decade! Increased funds will help us add additional Smart boards and added features that will truly welcome students back to a transformed space in fall.

The new, innovative classroom model enhances learning spaces with a serene color palette, antibacterial vinyl wood flooring, interactive technology and expanded faith walls as pictured below. Renovating and freshening up our classrooms will keep us up-to-date and competitive with other Learning Centers and schools in the community.

We invite you to use the link below to make a tax-deductible donation under Campus Renovation Project (Classroom):  If you would like to add the donation to your SMART account or break your donation up into a SMART payment plan, please contact Shannon Porter at or 626.403.6130.

We appreciate your support and look forward to welcoming children back in the fall to a beautiful space to learn and grow.

Many thanks,

Frank Montejano, Ed.D.



  • My Top 5 for March

    Dear School Community,

    I hope this communication finds you well during this holy season of lent. With so much happening in the school at this time of year, it can be a challenge to carve out extra time for reflection and prayer. It’s not easy, but certainly something we are all called to do at this time of year.

    I am writing to offer some thoughts on some important topics and issues related to our school’s present and future. While I could go on, I’m going to limit my comments to 5 key areas. As always, I welcome your feedback.

    Here are my top 5 topics for March:

    Playground Renovation

    We have reached an exciting moment in the development and formation of a multi-purpose, multi-use outdoor space that will enhance and strengthen our program in terms of beauty, design and function! Each of you received an invitation to our kickoff fundraising event on Thursday, March 10, 6:30 at the Stimson House. I hope you will be able to attend to see the latest drawings and hear more about the plans for our re-imagined outdoor area. If you are not able to attend this particular event, there will be other opportunities in the near future to hear about and see the plan. Stay tuned!

    Security Enhancements

    We’ve crossed another hurdle and are that much closer to putting our security enhancements in place! On February 4th the parish presented our security enhancement plans to the Design Commission of the City of South Pasadena; many parents and also a few neighbors attended. After an excellent presentation from parent and parishioner David Law, individuals in attendance had the opportunity to weigh in; a number of HFS parents spoke in favor of the project. In the end, the commission unanimously approved the plan for Holy Family. After the meeting, members of the SP community had an opportunity to appeal the decision, but the window for an appeal has passed (with no appeals!) We are now ready to move forward to secure bids for the project!

    Communication: Read the Newsletter!

    As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve cut down on the number of emails sent from the school this year. Instead, we have focused on placing the bulk of our  important information in the weekly newsletter. So, if you want to be “in the know” at Holy Family, you need to read the newsletter each week. Seriously. Don’t be left in the dark: READ THE NEWSLETTER!

    New Fundraising Plans

    I want to commend our Parent Guild and Dads’ Club for working together to create a fundraising calendar that will give our families a clear picture of the fundraising options/requirements that will be available next year. They are also working to find new and interesting fundraising activities that will boost parent participation and increase revenue to the school. Finally, they are working hard to space events so that the amount of activities does not overly extend our school community at any given time during the year. As we near the end of this year, we will be sharing more about the calendar and the kinds of fundraisers we will have in place for next year.

    High School and Kindergarten

    Finally, I ask that you pray for our 8th grade students as they receive word in the next week or so from the high schools to which they have applied. We are proud of them! And also pray for our incoming kindergarten cohort. They too will be receiving notice in the next couple of days. We look forward to welcoming them as only Holy Family can.

    Needless to say, these are exciting times at HFS!

    Frank Montejano

    Continue reading →
  • Congratulations to Our Mock Trial Champions

    Dear School Community,

    As many of you have already heard, Holy Family School is the 2015-2016 Los Angeles County Middle School Mock Trial champions!

    For those who aren’t familiar, the mock trial competition takes place in an actual courtroom, where the students serve as attorneys, witnesses, and other members of the courtroom. Two teams compete at a time, and scoring is based on their ability to present their case, cross-examine witnesses, and make opening and closing arguments. It is truly something to wtiness how poised they all are in performing their roles.

    This year’s tournament began last month with 52 teams from both public and private schools throughout the Los Angeles County area. Our team was Led expertly by Mrs. Diane Evans and Ms. Merritt. Their inspiration and expertise was an important part of the chemistry that made our team so successful; we are grateful to them for offering so much (and sacrificing so many hours) to help our team reach their goals.

    I especially want you to know that we are so very proud of our team members, not just for winning, but also for their hard work, dedication, and the way they conducted themselves throughout the tournament. In fact, when Holy Family was announced as the winning team, they immediately congratulated their counterparts, which evoked a comment from the judge about their graciousness–it was not just about themselves.

    Thank you to our Mock Trial team for bringing us so much excitement, and making us feel so very proud. We won’t soon forget!

    Go Knights!

    Dr. Frank Montejano

    Continue reading →
  • Principal’s Message, December 2015

    Dear School Community,

    Please join us as we help 9 families from Dolores Mission and Our Lady of Guadalupe–both sister schools–experience the joy and magic of Christmas!  These are hard-working, loving families who are experiencing many different hardships.  As you will see from their lists, most families are asking for basic needs, such as clothing and shoes, and under “special needs,” they listed such items as food, cleaning supplies, winter blankets, towels, and cookware.

    Each class will adopt 1 family.  Please consider adding a gift for someone in that family to your holiday shopping list.  It will surely be much-appreciated and very special to the recipient.

    Please involve your children, too.  This is a great opportunity for them to learn about how fortunate we are, and how we can share our blessings with others.  Perhaps your child can say some special prayers for the family, do chores to earn money for a gift, contribute some of their allowance, help shop for the gift, and/or include a handmade note or Christmas card.  We will update the students on our progress and celebrate all our efforts at  the weekly assembly.

    If you’re not able to shop for a gift, please consider making a donation that The Giving Bank can use for purchasing gifts.  Make checks payable to “Holy Family Giving Bank” and specify “Adopt-A-Family” on the memo line.  There will be a collection box at the office, or you can send a check with your child.  If you have any questions, please contact the Adopt-A-Family Coordinator for you class.

    Thank you for your support!  The last time we participated, The Giving Bank was overwhelmed by the generosity of our school.  Time and time again, our families show kindness to those in need and share their resources willingly.  We are grateful to be part of such a wonderful community.

    Many thanks,

    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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  • Principal’s Message, November 2015

    Dear School Community,

    We are thankful that phase I of our playground project is complete, and that our new surface is being enjoyed by all of our students!
    It is now time for us to look to the next phases of the project, which will include added play structure elements as well as the addition of shading. For this next phase, we will have to raise the funds to cover our costs.
    In order to assist us with various aspects of our planning, we will be working with a committee of school staff and parents. We will be reaching out to those who indicated on last year’s playground survey that they would be interested in serving; if there are others, including our new kindergarten parents, please let me know via email.
    A timeline is dependent on our ability to raise the necessary funds, but our target is to have the next phase worked on and completed over the summer. Working designs for the next phase are in process and we will have something to share with the school community in the near future; once they are ready, and our committee is in place, we will have more to share about next steps.
    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.
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  • 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.



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  • School Renovations Plan

    Dear Holy Family School Community,

    When I first arrived at Holy Family over a year and a half ago, many parents took the opportunity to point out to me the deteriorating playground turf, and the state of the play area in general. I heard the stories—and saw with my own eyes—the black cushioning material that left stains on the students’ uniforms. Around the same time I sent a survey asking you to share your dreams for the school; about one-third of the responses mentioned the need for a new play area. We had the existing turf cleaned this past summer, but that was always viewed as a short-term solution until we could begin with a playground improvement project to meet our needs for years to come.

    The time for moving forward with a newly renovated school and play area is now.

    The following link includes a video from a presentation at the December Principal Coffee about ideas for a renovated playground. The video can be viewed here: As you view the video, keep in mind that the ideas discussed are conceptual in nature, and in no way represent a finished product. We ask that you complete the following survey that specifically addresses this project. Please take the time to complete it, as your input is important to the process: Renovation Survey

    In the weeks and months ahead, we will begin to share the details of a school improvement project that includes not only the playground, but also improvements to the classrooms. It will include an evening presentation for parents so that all can see exactly where our collective efforts are headed. I wish to stress that these projects will not impact tuition costs, and will be funded through parish support, grants, and community fundraising efforts.

    With respect to the proposed classroom renovation, our goal is to create spaces that both honor our religious mission and maximize student learning. Potential classroom improvements include new flooring, better storage capacity, new desks, and the flexibility to quickly and easily group students into various configurations for cooperative learning. Supported by research, we aim to move our school to a level that increases student engagement, and also helps teachers to better differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all learners.

    I want to emphasize that our space renovation effort fits into a larger plan to meet the ever-growing needs of a vibrant parish and school community. With our new strategic plan (soon to be shared with the school community), we have outlined a strong and clear vision for the future.  Included in that vision is a safe and secure school space. To that end we recently met with representatives from Cobalt Consulting and Investigations, the safety and security firm hired to assist the parish and school. Their expertise will be instrumental as we move forward with plans to secure the perimeter, and provide training to staff, students and parents.

    Simply, Holy Family is positioned to reach new heights in a relatively short period of time. I am grateful for the support from the school community thus far, and look forward to making our dreams a reality.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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  • Catholic Schools Week 2015

    Dear Parents,

    It was great to see so many of you at Open House last night. It was truly a special evening. The school staff worked very hard in preparation; I hope that you appreciated their efforts, and the myriad gifts they bring to Holy Family school each and every day.

    As Catholic Schools’ Week comes to a close, I want to reflect with you on the state of Catholic schooling in a broader sense. While Holy Family School continues to thrive in many ways, it is a different situation for Catholic schools on a broader scale. Looking back over the last 50-60 years, Catholic Education in our country has gone through significant changes. In the mid-60’s, Catholic Education was at its peak in terms of enrollment, with just over 5 million students; today, Catholic Education has a national enrollment of just under 3 million, despite an increase in the general, as well as Catholic, population. On the one hand, many schools like Holy Family continue to grow and prosper as others struggle to keep their doors open.

    In our own archdiocese enrollment numbers have been steady for about 5 years, after several years of decline. What has accounted for Catholic schools’ loss in market share? There have been a number of factors, and number one is finances. As the cost of schooling increased, fewer families were able to afford it. Also, at the time of the Second Vatican Council in the mid-60’s, many women and men religious left the field of education to work in other ministries; as a result, many questioned the Catholic identity in schools. Quality was another factor that impacted Catholic schools at that time.

    Despite the turbulence that preceded us, many schools like Holy Family continue to thrive today. Each school in this circumstance can identify its own reasons for success. For Holy Family, from my perspective, it’s the unique combination of staff dedication, parent participation, and student commitment. To me these blend together in ways that create powerful results. A school community like ours will achieve great things whenever our shared values are a priority for all.

    As I look over the horizon, there is much to be excited about: our new strategic plan; continued implementation of the Common Core; our developing technology program; a playground/classroom renovation project; securing our school perimeter and the implementation of additional safety measures; our budding partnership with Our Lady of Guadalupe School; a new golf tournament in the fall. It’s the combination of tried and true, with exciting and innovative steps forward that define our growth.

    I look forward with great anticipation to the days ahead. I hope you do too.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.


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  • Introducing New School Staff

    Dear Holy Family Community,

    Evidence of growth and excellence can be seen throughout our school, as we are always looking for new ways to ensure our future success and viability.

    It is in this spirit that I introduce two of our newer Holy Family School staff members. The first, Ms. Roberta Gomez, will join us on Monday as our school counselor; and the second, Mrs. Shannon Porter, has been the Director of School Advancement at HFS beginning this past summer. Both bring unique skills and talents that will benefit our school in new and exciting ways.

    Ms. Gomez received her Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology at Mt. St. Mary’s College. She currently works as a Marriage and Family Therapist intern at the Village Family Services Mental Health Clinic in North Hollywood, where she provides individual, children, teenager, adolescent and family therapy sessions across a range of mental health needs. Prior to that, she performed short and long term therapy for clients at the Pacific Clinics Mental Health Clinic in Pasadena.

    Her experiences in different counseling settings, including schools, has further helped her to understand the kinds of emotional barriers that can impede learning, as well as the support structures needed to ensure success at school. She brings to Holy Family the necessary expertise, empathy, and commitment to make our new counseling program a success.

    As of this writing, Ms. Gomez is scheduled to be on campus Monday and Thursday mornings. Information about referrals will be sent in a separate email.

    Shannon Porter brings a long and successful record of working with Catholic schools in the field of Development and Advancement. She has extensive experience in fundraising and grant writing, and was instrumental in helping our sister school, Dolores Mission, develop a long-range plan that led to numerous school improvements as the school’s development director. Shannon was also formerly the manager of Homegirl Café.

    In her current capacity with HFS, Shannon is responsible for developing and implementing an advancement strategy to support targeted needs within the school. Her hard work to this point has already paid great dividends, as she has helped secure grants for the school in the areas of technology and safety/security. She is also working diligently with Jill Toth on our Legacy of Learning Program; as we look to the future, Shannon will play an instrumental role in developing our playground renovation project.

    Please join with me in welcoming Roberta Gomez and Shannon Porter to Holy Family School!

    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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  • 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.


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  • New School Initiatives: Common Core State Standards

    Dear Parents,

    As we ease into summer, I hope this finds you well. This is the second in a series of letters addressing some of the primary initiatives for Holy Family School for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. In my previous letter, I discussed our one-to-one iPad program; specifically, the transition from school-provided devices to family owned. If you missed it, please find it in the links below.

    The purpose of this letter is to inform you about our progress in implementing of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  I will provide some general background about the CCSS, information about the work we did at Holy Family this past year, and how we will continue to implement the CCSS in the coming year.

    Periodically, we will provide different CCSS resources for parents so that you can better understand and support our goals In addition to reading this letter, I encourage all who are interested in learning more to view the actual CCSS which can be found at

    Background on the Common Core. The CCSS are learning skills and concepts that our students should achieve as they move through their time at Holy Family School. Empowered by the nation’s governors, Educational experts and researchers (which included input from teachers, parents, and school administrators) developed the CCSS over several years. Their primary purpose is to raise the academic standards of K-12 students nationally in order to better prepare them for college and career.

    The CCSS are an update to the previous California State Standards, which have guided Holy Family and all other Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles since 1997. Although similar to our previous state standards, they are different in some important ways; below are some of the shifts that will have in impact on teaching and learning at Holy Family:

    •  Fewer actual standards, which allow students to explore topics in greater depth;
    • Reading as much non-fiction as fiction;
    • Reading material more closely, and looking to the text for evidence of learning;
    • Greater emphasis on academic vocabulary;
    • Building of skills, within and across grades;
    • In Math, developing speed and accuracy, and being able to use skills in the real world

    Frequently Asked Questions about the Common Core. Below are some of the frequently asked questions about the CCSS; I include these here to provide additional clarity and perhaps address misconceptions about the nature and purpose of the CCSS:

    Why are the CCSS important?

    The standards provide a clear set of expectations to ensure that students have the skills necessary to excel in college, career, and life after graduation. Because these standards are aligned to college and workforce training programs, teachers, students and parents have a clear understanding of what is required to succeed beyond high school.

    Does the CCSS tell teachers what to teach?

    The basic answer is no. The teachers at Holy Family know best about what works in the classroom. The standards indicate what students need to learn, but do not dictate the methods and materials used by teachers. The teachers and administration at Holy Family will always be able to decide how to best help students reach the standards.

    With the new emphasis on non-fiction reading, will the learning of literature be done away with or de-emphasized?

    Absolutely not. We at Holy Family recognize the importance of literature and the classics, and will continue to have our students read important literature. In fact the standards emphasize the reading of classic myths, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.

    Will the standards negatively impact faith formation in Catholic schools?

    While the standards were first developed for public schools, our Catholic school educational leaders have embraced them with the understanding that our faith formation will always be paramount. In a letter signed by each of the Catholic school superintendents in the state, they note, “Catholic schools in California have always insured that the standards that guide instruction in the classroom are infused with our Catholic faith.” In support of these efforts, the Common Core Catholic Identity Initiative (CCCII, which can be found at has been developed to assist Catholic elementary schools in infusing elements of faith formation in ways that align with the standards.

    How will Assessments be developed?

    As we have always done with our standards, our faculty will develop assessments and rubrics at each grade level to measure progress; these assessments will align to the skills and concepts found in the standards. As far as standardized testing, the Department of Catholic Schools will continue this year to use our IOWA Test of Basic Skills.

    The CCSS and Holy Family School. This past year our faculty spent several hours learning about the CCSS, and also developing a process to implement the CCSS in a way that meets Holy Family’s needs.  These included the creation of a CCSS resource team, dedicated CCSS planning time at faculty meetings, and specific CCSS trainings for faculty sponsored by the Frostig Center (a research-based institute in Pasadena) and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The Common Core team—which consisted of five faculty members, the vice-principal, and principal—met weekly during lunch meetings to facilitate a process for faculty training; during faculty meetings, we worked primarily in smaller grade-level groups to discuss the Language Arts skills and concepts needed at each level in order to ensure a smooth transition from grade to grade. Specifically, teachers employed a coding process, in which they identified the concepts for their grade level, and how this differed from the grade below and above. We found this articulation among grades to be critically important in building the necessary skills for our students at each level of development, both across grades and subject areas.

    The outside trainings gave us a greater understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of the CCSS, and also provided us with a roadmap for implementation. We also benefitted from discussions with teachers and administrators from local Catholic schools, who themselves were at similar stages of implementing the CCSS.

    As a result, the faculty employed specific changes to align with the goals of the CCSS. In the classroom, there was an increased emphasis on such areas as academic vocabulary, close reading, using the text for evidence, and higher order thinking skills. These changes were also reflected in homework assignments. In some ways, the shift has been subtle, because these areas have always received our attention; but over time, because of our increased focus, we will begin to see growth related to the CCSS.

    In the upcoming year we will continue our work in Language Arts, particularly with the writing standards; we will also begin the implementation of the Math standards. As part of this process, we will work closely with the leadership in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who plan to provide additional support and training to all of our Catholic schools; we will also continue to work with the Frostig Center. Additionally, we will continue with our CCSS core team, and also utilize staff development time to improve articulation across grades. As parents, depending on your child’s grade level, you can expect to see a greater emphasis on different types of writing across the subject areas.

    I hope this additional information about the CCSS helps you to understand the framework provided to all Catholic schools in the state. As always, we will continue to determine the materials and methods of teaching, but will utilize the standards as a roadmap to achieve our goals. As we move forward, I welcome your feedback.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.


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  • New School Initiatives: One-to-One iPad Program

    Dear School Community,

         In the weeks ahead I will be sending periodic updates and providing additional information regarding some of the key initiatives I outlined for the coming year. Namely, I will be discussing changes to the Spanish program, new course offerings in the middle school, the school calendar, the Common Core, and–with this communication–our technology program. We have also created an “Initiatives” tab on the website so that information about these new projects/programs in the school can be updated periodically. The purpose is to clarify how these will benefit our students, and also engender your support and understanding prior to the start of the next school year.
         Holy Family School Technology Program. Our school technology program is at an exciting point in its transition to one-to-one devices. This year’s pilot of iPads in grades 5 and 8 brought forth some strong results, and also helped to show us where the program can be strengthened. A major shift for us this year is the transition from school provided devices to a Bring Your Own iPad (BYO) program. This letter discusses this change, as well as the current benefits and challenges we face with this program.
         Some of the exciting results this year included the creative utilization of educational apps, the ability to research and bring reports to life in new and exciting ways, employing a “flipped classroom” approach, textbook support in specific content areas (such as Math), and the ability to differentiate instruction more effectively.
         But there is so much more we can do, and ongoing teacher training will be critical to our future success. A $10,000 grant obtained this year has allowed us to provide needed training for our teaching staff, but this is just the beginning. We are currently applying for an additional $20,000 grant for both the school and parish, which will also be used to develop our teachers’ capacity and facility with technology generally, and the iPad specifically. Our goal is to be able to use technology as a transformative tool, where engaged students work to their individual abilities and teachers are able to receive feedback in real time.
         The move from a school supplied iPad to a BYO iPad program is a major shift for us. This decision was not arrived at lightly. Major considerations were long-term sustainability of the program as well as the pros/cons of student/family-owned iPads vs. school-issued iPads. In making this decision we consulted with our technology committee, the school board, and local schools with one-to-one technology programs. Interestingly, we learned that many schools had made a similar transition, and were doing so successfully. In the end, we believe this change will allow Holy Family to build and sustain our one-to-one program, and also allow our families greater flexibility that comes with ownership.
         I realize this additional cost to families may be burdensome, particularly to those with multiple children who are required to participate in the program. To address this we are starting a program (beginning next year) that will provide a school-issued iPad to families with more than one child in the program. In other words, the second or third child in the program will be offered a school-issued iPad to help defray costs. To help fund this, we are utilizing a grant from Wells Fargo, and also working on additional outside funding; the goal is to fully support this program from outside sources and not take from our operating expenses. More detailed information about the program will be sent directly to those families who meet the criteria.
         In summary, we are fully committed to making our one-to-one program a successful part of the curriculum at Holy Family School. You can view detailed information about our technology program here: I look forward to working with all of you to achieve our desired future, one marked by excellence, compassion, and faith.
    Frank Montejano, Ed.D
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  • As Lent Begins…

    Dear Parents,

    In preparation for Lent, I want to share this newsletter from Creighton University with practical suggestions for our Lenten Journey. In my conversation with our students at assembly this past Monday, I likened this journey to a kind of spiritual Spring cleaning, during  which we make room for God in various ways; depending on where we are it can mean increased time for prayer, additional service and outreach, or maybe just slowing down a bit to appreciate God’s wonder. Whatever it might be for you, please take the time to share the journey with your children, and as the newsletters suggests, make it a positive experience.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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  • Welcome to 2014!

    Dear Holy Family School Community,

    On behalf of our faculty and staff, I want to wish you all a happy New Year! It’s hard to believe it is 2014 and we are nearing the mid-point of the school term. While our students have accomplished so much already, we can also look forward to many important events and exciting opportunities for growth in the New Year.

    In the month of January, our calendar is filled with activities and events. Our second grade children will be receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This is a wonderful moment in their young lives and I ask that you keep them in your prayers. Also, we will be hosting a meeting with families who are interested in attending Holy Family School. Again, let’s pray for our prospective families as important decisions will be made in the coming weeks. At the end of the month we will have our annual week-long celebration of Catholic schools (more information on this to follow). Catholic Schools Week is a great way to show our appreciation for the gift of Catholic schools generally, and for our own Holy Family School. Also this month, preparations will begin for the annual school play, which is certainly a highlight of the year for our community.

    As we endeavor together in the New Year I want to again express my gratitude to you for your continued support of the school. I see only great things on the horizon for our school family and I look forward to working closely with you to make these happen.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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  • Merry Christmas!

    Dear Holy Family Community:

     As I reflect during this holy season I feel blessed to be part of a community of faith whose gifts and talents are shared for the greater good. I have been touched by the outpouring of love and affection for members in need, whether a struggling student, or an ill or suffering member of the community. Holy Family is truly a family in the best sense.

    I also feel proud of our students who have distinguished themselves in so many ways. These include athletic achievements in football and volleyball, confidence displayed in the courtroom during mock trial, the talents of our young thespians during A Charlie Brown Christmas, and the musical gifts displayed by all at the Christmas Concert. Additionally, in an assembly in January, we will recognize our students who have received honors in the classroom. Of course, the faculty, staff and parents who played a part in these successes deserve our sincere appreciation.

     The above signify for me the climate of caring and culture of excellence that mark Holy Family School. For this we should all be grateful.

     My wish for you is that you have a wonderful and faith-filled Christmas. Christ’s birth hails a new beginning filled with opportunity and wonder. In the New Year we will begin again, and I anticipate that we will continue to build trust and foster the kind of respectful communication that we have enjoyed to this point. With that as our foundation, we will continue to provide the very best for our  children.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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  • Principal’s Message, April 2014

    Dear Holy Family School Community,

    Here is an important message from the joint task force of HFS School Board and Safeguard the Children that I wanted to share with you:

    We, the parents, faculty, and leadership of Holy Family School have the common goal of ensuring the safety and security of our children. In light of several events in late 2012, the school instituted enhanced security measures last January. In addition, our parish’s Safeguard the Children Ministry formed a task force to review security issues of all ministries that serve our children, including the school. This task force hosted a panel discussion in June, to discuss safety issues and how to address them. The panel included a South Pasadena police officer, several parishioners who are career law enforcement officers and security experts, and John Tegtmeyer, the architect of the school. This team of experts reviewed the security issues that our campus faces and made preliminary recommendations for improvement.

    Our task force has now become a joint task force of the HFS School Board and the Safeguard the Children Ministry and will be further refining and setting forth written recommendations regarding:

    • Our school’s Disaster Preparedness Plan
    • Our video surveillance system
    • Our security system
    • Our emergency communications systems to ensure we are utilizing new technologies when appropriate
    • The physical layout of our campus- addressing whether we can better define and protect our school areas while still welcoming the public to our Church areas.

    The goal is to determine the best way to protect our students, teachers, and staff from harm. We will keep you updated regularly on our progress, and we welcome your comments. Please contact us by e-mail at, or by calling Jay Madden, School Board, at (626) 300-8306 or Elizabeth Fagan, Safeguard the Children, at (626) 437-3865.


    Frank Montejano, Ed.D.

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