As you know, I love to celebrate St. Mary’s Academy. And if it weren’t so warm recently, I might have suggested we light 159 candles on a huge chocolate cake three days ago. Happy birthday SMA! May we forever be guided by the spirit of optimism and progress of our founders on SMA’s opening day, August 1, 1864.
It’s with that spirit that I’m pleased to share my priorities as we head into the 2023-24 school year. I arrived at these priorities after intense engagement via our vision survey and one-on-one meetings. To date, I’ve heard from 200 parents, guardians, students, and members of the faculty and staff, and I’m still all ears. You’ll hear much more about our work in these areas as the year progresses, but please join me in our shared vision outlined here.
Achieve Deeper All-Academy Cohesiveness and Unity
Multiple proverbs tell us that there is strength in unity. We have the opportunity to harness the power of our cross-divisional community in bigger and bolder ways. Leadership at every division is committed to the work. We are digging into the details to ensure a top quality, consistent and cohesive program that builds from the Lower School (including our Early Learning Program) into the Middle School and on to our High School. Mentorship programs at all levels are one example of how we will strengthen our learning environment and ready our students for their all-important transitions across campus and into the greater community. And, as an Academy, we will continue to exploit occasions to gather together for pep rallies, holidays, and other special events. (Think 160 candles next year!)
Fortify Our Faculty and Staff
Our dedicated faculty and staff members are essential pillars of the Academy, and we will provide them with continuous support and professional development opportunities that will further hone their accomplished practices and growth mindsets. There will be an intentional, structured professional development process to ensure we invest in our teachers. More information will be shared with our faculty and staff as we return to campus.
Elevate Our Programs
We will achieve greater balance and equity across our academic, athletics, and arts, each one of them winners.
- We are entering phase two of our STEAM curriculum, facilitated by our partnership with Knowing Technologies. It provides real-world learning opportunities that explore the relationship between arts and design that drive innovation through integrated, purposeful, and immersive creative experiences in science, technology, math, and engineering. With key planning and commitments completed last year, additional makerspaces are taking shape, instructional support is underway, and faculty is engrossed in spark sessions this year. Of special note: hold onto your tophats for the new STEAM electives in the Middle School!
- Our athletics and health & wellness programs are powering up. We’re committed to supporting our champion scholar-athletes and spreading the Wildcat pride. As promised, our athletic facility upgrades are nearly complete! Bishop Evans Sports Center now has air-conditioning, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Our west soccer field and baseball field is being transformed with top quality, sustainable athletic turf, and our Pam Bent Field will feature a state-of-art digital scoreboard, so you can easily see our winning scores! You’ll find these fields in constant use. This is all thanks to our community givers who supported our Wellness Outside the Classroom paddle raiser at last spring’s gala.
- SMA’s “A-team” of health and wellness experts includes the newly created position of PE/Health Teacher in the Middle School to deliver a well-rounded program for the critical early adolescent years.
- Arts programming shares the stage with other core classes as part of our STEAM curriculum to spur creativity, ingenuity, and expression. We’ve enriched our performing arts staff this year with another Lower School/Middle School music specialist so that all these students will benefit from music experiences.
- Our newly-named Early Learning Program (ELP) and additional early learning teachers welcome to campus for the first time preschool students in addition to our beloved prekindergarten students. I am personally pleased it is only a bunny hop from my office to their classrooms in the Community Center.
- We are proudly Catholic, and I am dedicated to fortifying our Catholic identity and upholding the essence of Loretto teachings in an enriched religion curriculum. Our High School theology faculty and campus minister, in collaboration with Lower School and Middle School faculty, are leading this effort for seamless integration of theological studies across the divisions. I am also eagerly looking forward to more all-Academy celebrations of Mass this year.
I will continue to update our progress in these and other important areas. And, my office remains open to parents, faculty, and staff who wish to share their thoughts this summer. Please reach out to Lori Scott to make an appointment, and I look forward to meeting with you. Together, we’ll make it happen!