Principal’s June Messages:
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.
ART AT HOLY FAMILY
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.
HOLY FAMILY AUCTION
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): http://school.holyfamily.org/support-hfs/. 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 email@example.com 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.
Frank Montejano, Ed.D.
- HFS Summer School is Here!
Dear Holy Family Community,
We are very excited and pleased to be offering a comprehensive summer program to our school community, as well as our sister schools, Dolores Mission and Our Lady of Guadalupe. The program will offer a variety of classes, and will include different options ranging from a single course to a full-day program. The option for after school care will also be included.
The Holy Family School summer program will take place on the Holy Family campus and will be from June 26 – July 20. Here is the link for detailed information about the program. http://school.holyfamily.org/summer-school/
Finally, please feel free to contact me, Ms. Levin or Ms. Arnold for additional information about the program. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
- 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:
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!
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!
- 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!
Dr. Frank Montejano
- 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.
Frank Montejano, Ed.D.
- 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.Sincerely,Frank Montejano, Ed.D.Principal
- Principal’s Message August 2015
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.
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.
- 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: https://vimeo.com/117497907. 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.
- Catholic Schools Week 2015
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.
- 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.
- New School Initiatives: Modified Calendar Enables Faculty Professional Development
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.
- New School Initiatives: Common Core State Standards
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 www.corestandards.org.
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 www.catholicshoolstandards.org) 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.
- 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:http://hfsipadprogram.weebly.com/. I look forward to working with all of you to achieve our desired future, one marked by excellence, compassion, and faith.Sincerely,Frank Montejano, Ed.DPrincipal
- As Lent Begins…
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 email@example.com, 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.