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Welcome Back to School

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Welcome back to school! This is the rallying cry you would have heard the week of August 15 throughout the Diocese of San Jose.

The elementary and secondary school students will return for classes! Our enrollment number of 16,400 remains strong! Thank you to all the families and friends that support our Catholic schools. We are very proud of our students and our teachers. I know you join me in praying for all of them as they start school year 2016-2017.

This year we welcome eight new principals as leaders at the following schools:

Anthony Barajas Saint John Vianney
Bob Graves Holy Spirit
Margaret Reynolds Saint Lawrence Elementary and Middle School
Mike Lee Saint Joseph, Cupertino
Chris Brazil Saint John the Baptist
Bridgit McGarry Holy Family
Debbie Rodriguez Saint Martin of Tours
Sally Douthit Saint Christopher

Each one of these Catholic school leaders brings not only their faith and their instructional expertise to our schools, but also their passion and commitment to Catholic education. New to the Diocese are Margaret Reynolds, Anthony Barajas and Bob Graves. Returning is Sally Douthit, whom some of you will remember as a teacher at Saint Justin and Saint Martin of Tours. Sally is returning to us from her position as principal in the Oakland Diocese for 10 years.

This school year is very special in many ways. PowerSchool, a student information system, and Renaissance Learning, our assessment and data reporting tool, as well as Parent Square, a new parent notification service, will be used in every elementary school. The opportunity to collect all school information at the Department of Education level has been a goal for several years. This trifecta of services is the result of careful financial planning and commitment by our late CFO, Bob Serventi. Bob recognized the need to be able to alert parents immediately about emergency issues, and also the need to share the “GOOD NEWS” of our data across the schools. I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know this was just one way his vision, and commitment for our Diocesan Catholic schools will affect our future. Thank you, Bob.

All elementary schools in the Diocese are Diocesan schools. We now describe them as Parish schools and Drexel schools. Parish school principals are under the supervision of the Pastor in that parish, and Drexel schools are supervised through the Department of Education under Asst. Superintendent, Dr. Tara Rolle. Donors fund Drexel school operations; and Parish schools are completely funded through tuition at the site.

Many of our schools identify as STEM, STREAM or STEAM programs. Some are focusing on Blended Learning. Others are using a Global Awareness curriculum. These descriptors tell you a couple of things: the schools are indeed embracing 21st century skills that include engineering, science and environmental programs as well as fine arts and literature. Elementary schools are meeting the needs of the individual student through project based learning (hands on) courses that are focused on developing individual skills. We are using STAR assessments and collecting the data that will inform the teacher about a student’s instructional needs.

Learning is a process for each student. This direction in education is focused on the best possible learning experiences for each student and time for the student to develop confidence at each step of the process.

All teachers and school staff gathered on August 15 at the Mission Church on the campus of Santa Clara University to celebrate our opening convocation. Bishop McGrath was our presider. I know you join me in prayer for a successful school year for every student in a Catholic elementary or high school.

With gratitude for your support,

Kathy Almazol
Superintendent of Schools