Principal’s Post #1

Dear Parents,

How has your summer been?

Hectic? Joyful? Busy, with punctuated moments of relaxation? I can’t wait to hear about it. In the mean time…

Mine has been all of the above, I must say. My husband and I moved in to our country house, instantly loving the relatively quiet setting with friendly neighbors (by ‘neighbors,’ I mean the three families that live half a mile away) and wildlife one doesn’t experience in the city. Every day’s had one or more “Discovery Channel moments,” wherein I observe our chipmunks, feed our neighbor’s horses, see the hawks of our area, chase the lizards who love the rocks, and listen and watch several of the Wyoming birds that visit our little area. Deer have occasionally visited this little corner as well. No rattlesnake citings yet. Just over three weeks ago, we rescued an abandoned dog at the Kinnear Store, whom we named ‘Mike.’ He’s wonderful, though we’re first time dog owners and trying to figure a lot of things out.

On the work side, things got busy and incrimentally complicated and challenging. Because I came the last week of school, and therefore had little transition time before the dear Sisters of St. Benedict left, I’ve spent much of the summer in a state of examination, catch-up, and crossroads management.

Just like the phrase, “the check’s in the mail,” I feel like I’ve been saying to parents and families, “The school update’s in the mail.” Though I’ve been here since late May, working full time since June, and have been present both at the school and parish, I realize that our school community reaches beyond the parish  and Riverton community.

Though there’s no excuse for not writing a short letter to connect with you earlier, I must say that I’ve had my fair share of challenges this summer, and thank you for your patience and prayers.

So, as of August 15, here are the updates–a little about the summer and a little about this coming year*:

* This will be sent by mail ASAP as well.

  • School begins with half-days this Thursday & Friday, August 19th & 20th, which is a practice we’ve had for a couple years, and seen a lot of fruit coming from these transition days.
  • Business Day was last Wednesday, August 11, which was a focused time of registering students and collecting school related fees. Please contact us at the school office if you still need to register your children, pay fees, pick up school materials lists, or settle any past accounts.
  • Lander Students: though we encountered difficulties this past spring and early summer with keeping the Lander Bus, we’ve now secured the use of the Lander Bus for the school year 2010-11, and will very soon hopefully purchase the bus for the use of the school with the aid of a generous grant. We’ve hired a driver who’ll be able to drive as soon as this week. Lander parents: I’ve emailed an update on the specifics of the bus usage for this year.
  • Family Covenant: Our parent agreement this year, formerly termed a parent “contract,” remains largely the same, but his year is being called a covenant. Why the change? The difference is that in the past the parent contract has been a formality that wasn’t always supported or followed up on. This year we want to change from a more “transaction mentality” where one gives in exchange for something else, and now have transitioned to a “covenant mentality,” where one commits out of love to certain duties, and the corroborating party (in this case, the School) commits to certain partnerships and duties–all in the name of Jesus Christ and his Church.
  • Personnel Changes: This is the hardest update to give, but one that is for the best interest of the students and long term success of the school. Due to a significant budget shortfall, several significant unforeseen expenses, and decreased enrollment, the School Commission voted to combine several of the classes for this year. PreK, Kindergarten and 1st Grade will remain individual classes, but Mrs. Greff will be teaching 2nd/ 3rd grade this year, and Mrs. Hill will be teaching 4th/5th grade class this year. When this decision was made, the potential impact of a combined classroom was very much considered. Though this may be counterintuitive, children in combined classrooms have been shown to do just as well as students in individual classrooms, and actually do very well in this setting, developing excellent social skills and independence in learning. I am aware of the challenge of changing classroom paradigms, but am doing all that I can to support our teachers with every resource available, including providing mentors, reading materials, professional support and feedback.
    • I am very happy to address your concerns in person, so please do contact me at the School Office to make an appointment. Additionally, you may find this FAQ sheet helpful:
    • Combined Classroom FAQs
  • Upcoming Events:
    • Estate Sale Fundraiser: Saturday, September 11, 11am @ St. Margaret’s Gym.
    • Open House: A Back to School Event for all parents the week of September 13. Stay tuned for a date and time.
  • Public School Buses will not be running Monday, August 23rd since the first day of public school is August 24. Please arrange for alternative transportation for your child this day.

Thank you for your support of St. Margaret’s Catholic School. Be assured of my prayers as we approach the beginning of school, and I ask for yours as well.

God Bless you, and see you soon!

Jessica M.H. Smith

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2 Responses to Principal’s Post #1

  1. joe & rose stanbury says:

    Scholarship for full year tuition@ St. Margaret’s School in Honor of “The Benedictine Sisters of St. Martin Monastery in Rapid City, SD.
    We would like this Scholarship to go to a Catholic child of St. Margarets Parish that is in need.
    God Bless.

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