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Summer Update from Sr. M. Bridget Martin, Principal
Summer Update from Sr. M. Bridget Martin, Principal
Matt Vander Vennet
Monday, June 15, 2020

June 11, 2020

 

Dear STM Families,

 

What an unexpected end of the year we have had! I am sure that not one of us had imagined spending the last 2 ½ months of school doing online learning or the start of our summer being spent social distancing and pushing Graduation back to July. Yet, that is what has happened. There is still so much unknown about what the new school year will look like with social distancing and other guidelines we may need to follow. The current upheaval of our country, and even the world, must call to mind the inherent dignity of each person, made in the image and likeness of God. As Catholics, we have a responsibility to recognize the dignity in each person we encounter. This education begins at home, but is strengthened in schools. 

 

Over the course of this past school year, I have been able to settle in as principal as well as observe and identify the areas of strength and weakness here at The High School of St. Thomas More. Some of our strengths include: teachers who care about our students, faculty and staff faithful to the mission of high school, and extracurriculars, which keep our students engaged, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. Some of our weaknesses include retaining teachers, providing a consistent schedule, and having a solid identity as a school. As I prepare to lead the High School of Saint Thomas More into its third decade I am making it a priority to address these weaknesses while serving the STM Family as the principal. In this letter I will be addressing 1) Bell Schedules at STM; 2) Authentic Catholic Education and our Identity; and 3) Tuition.  In addressing these areas I am seeking to authentically form the sons and daughters of The High School of Saint Thomas More to fulfill their baptismal call as Christ’s disciples in the world. 

 

To address our first topic: bell schedules. On the first day of the second semester, we had a listening session during our retreat day. Many of the students (and teachers) stated their desire for a more consistent schedule. Often teachers and students would not know what bell schedule each day was. So, beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, we will operate off of two bell schedules - our usual standard day (bell schedule #1), and our Mass/Adoration schedule, which will become our Mass/Adoration/House Schedule (bell schedule #2). This means that each week we will have one day of bell schedule #2 [either Mass or Adoration, or House (twice a month)] and the rest of the days will be bell schedule #1. House will now be from 9:21-10:29, so it will be for a longer time, which will give us opportunities to also give back to the community by doing some service work together as a House, holding assemblies during that time, and not interrupting our normal bell schedule.

 

On to our second topic: Authentic Catholic Education and our Identity. The purpose of our school is to form disciples of Christ. I see this as foundational for the identity of The High School of St. Thomas More. With this in mind, it is our responsibility to help our students understand how each discipline is tied into another, and how to seek truth across various disciplines, while coming to a deeper knowledge and love of the One who is Truth. The focus of this coming school year will be on integrating each of our disciplines with the Truth of Jesus Christ from whom all truth comes. This encounter, both for our teachers and for our students,  will help our teachers be equipped to make the paradigm shift we seek to fully implement in 2021-2022. 

 

The paradigm shift we are seeking to implement is transitioning The High School of St. Thomas More to a Catholic Liberal Arts Curriculum. A Catholic Liberal Arts Curriculum seeks to form the entire student - spiritually, morally, intellectually, and physically - in accord with the truths that transform lives and prepare one for eternity. This is not the newest fad in education or the next “best technique.” Rather, this is a pedagogy that is tried and true since antiquity. A Catholic Liberal Arts Education captures the unity of faith and reason throughout the entire curriculum, giving students tools for learning rather than the secular model of compartmentalized subject matter. 

 

This is not called a “college prep” education, or even a “workplace prep” education, although it does prepare students for both of those. This is a fully integrated education that will prepare our students to encounter and engage, in an authentic way, the postmodern world in which we live. A Catholic Liberal Arts Education may be likened to a STREAM Education (Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Art, and Math), although Liberal Arts is the forerunner to STEM and STREAM, and offers a fuller integration of disciplines with a consistent focus on Truth, Beauty, and Goodness. Teachers are always looking to incorporate interdisciplinary lessons and critical thinking skills with our students, and this feeds very naturally into those aspects of education. 

 

Providing a Catholic Liberal Arts Education not only sets us apart from our public school counterparts pedagogically, but also will provide our students with a more thorough and integrated education. Many schools across the country are embracing this traditional way of education, and we are excited to join them. Schools which teach students how to think within a Catholic Liberal Arts Curriculum have seen improved test scores, increased stakeholder support, and students who are better prepared than their peers for life beyond high school. 

 

So as to properly understand the shift in pedagogy and providing an integrated education, the administration and faculty will be receiving training in the coming year. The preparation for our transition to a Catholic Liberal Arts Curriculum includes a weeklong conference for administrators, training for administrators and teachers, and professional development throughout the school year. Next summer we hope to bring other faculty members to the weeklong conference that the administration is attending this year. 

 

I am sure this is bringing some questions to mind for some of you. We will begin posting more information about this on our school website, including an explanatory video in the coming weeks. We will also be offering frequent communications about what this looks like more specifically in providing sample curriculum guides so students and families can understand which classes would be taught. 

 

The third topic: tuition. You may have noticed that the tuition prices are listed differently this year. As we do every year, there has been a slight increase to tuition to account for inflation. In addition, we are beginning to delineate our breakdown of tuition prices differently. Beginning this school year (2020-21), we will be working with our feeder parishes to verify Catholic registration and regular participation in parish life for families to be considered for the more discounted tuition rate. Our hope is to incorporate more scholarship opportunities in the coming years as tuition prices continue to increase.

 

I pray that we all find solace in knowing of our Heavenly Father’s deep love for each one of us. In this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may He give us an outpouring of His Spirit. Know of my prayers for each of your families in these summer months. 

 

Peace, 

 Sister M. Bridget Martin, FSGM, Principal

Father Michael Pica, Chaplain

  

2020-2021 Tuition

Practicing Catholic: 

$7,540 (Tuition)

+ $40 (Parent Association) 

+ $10 (House fee) 

+ $90 (Technology) 

+ $15 (Campus Ministry) 

= $7,695

 

Not Affiliated Catholic or Non-Catholic: 

$11,360 (Tuition)

+ $40 (Parent Association) 

+ $10 (House fee) 

+ $90 (Technology) 

+ $15 (Campus Ministry) 

= $11,515

 

International: 

$15,340 (Tuition)

+ $40 (Parent Association) 

+ $10 (House fee) 

+ $90 (Technology) 

+ $15 (Campus Ministry) 

= $15,495

Check out this link for resources regarding our move to a Catholic Liberal Arts Education curriculum: https://catholicliberaleducation.org/articles/