As she paced between the rows of desks, Spanish teacher Lilian Scott asked her students: “How do you say good morning?”
“Buenos dias,” the fifth graders replied in unison.
“You guys are doing great here,” Scott said.
It was just the second week of Spanish class at the new All Saints Academy on the campus of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Parish in Florissant. With fresh workbooks in hand, the fifth-graders were working with Scott on conversational skills. Additional workbooks were stacked in the back of the classroom, waiting to be given to other students.
It’s been at least six years since the school had a Spanish class, said Kenneth Morr, principal at the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne campus. Now students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades will have Spanish once a week. It’s one of several new features among the three campuses at the new All Saints Academy.
“It’s a different level of organization … but I’ve never been more happy with the new resources,” said Morr, who is in his 15th year as principal. “All three (campuses) have the same tuition, all three (campuses) are charged the same for after care. We have one big fundraiser, which is to help support our parent association as they start off.”
This is the first year for the academy, which brings together three north St. Louis County Catholic schools as part of a new partnership model of governance. All Saints Academy includes campuses at St. Ferdinand, St. Norbert and St. Rose Philippine Duchesne parishes. Each of the schools offer preschool through eighth grade at their own sites. Enrollment is 275 at St. Rose Philippine Duchesne campus, 220 at St. Ferdinand campus and 214 at St. Norbert campus.
Under the model, the schools are operated by the sponsoring parishes and the archdiocese. The move also ensures that educational and religious educational programs are of similar quality in all of the schools, including staffing and programs. While the school will operate at three sites, the entire entity will be governed by the pastors and a board of directors, which includes Rick Danzeisen, director of North County Catholic elementary schools. Danzeisen serves as the main contact for religious and academic curriculum, school personnel, accreditation and school improvement, developing and monitoring budgets with pastors, fundraising and development, and facilities.
Beyond Spanish classes, several other new features at All Saints Academy include:
• A nurse at all three campuses
•Sammi Grone has been hired as a coordinator of religious education for the academy and works with principals and teachers to plan all-school liturgies, support sacramental preparation and connect students, teachers and families with faith-formation resources.
• A $75,000 Beyond Sunday grant was awarded to all North County Federation schools, to provide a counselor and speech-language pathologist via the Department of Special Education.
The Federation of Catholic Schools in North County, which formed in 2010 as a gateway to increasing the viability, affordability and accessibility of quality Catholic education in North St. Louis County, already has a well-established foundation for collaboration that feeds into the partnership aspect of the new academy. The federation now includes all 10 schools in the North County Deanery and facilitates collaboration among the schools with resources and reduces competition among schools for funding and enrollment.