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Dear St. Mary's parents,

I'm glad to announce that we have successfully concluded the 2021-22 school year today.  Thank you for entrusting your children to our school and teachers and for all the ways in which you contributed to their education and to the school community.  There have been countless contributions of time, talent and treasure from parents and volunteers throughout the year, and without them our school would not be what it is today. 

As you prepare for summer and look ahead to next year, I'd like to give you an idea of what is to come.  One of the last school related events will be the Spaghetti Dinner on Thursday, June 23rd, and a flier will go out via email and the website / app before then.  

For the summer, Tina Johnston will be working with me and Theresa in the office to fully onboard into the secretary role.  There will be a substantial amount of renovation, building and grounds work throughout the summer, and Bill Gardner will be available on site for a majority of the summer for that.  At the end of June (the 24th) I will be traveling to Japan and South Korea to visit my in-laws and will be returning early August (the 9th).  It will be a big and joyous trip for our family, as my children's grandparents have never seen three of my little ones in person yet.  My wife has not seen her parents in nearly 9 years. We are grateful to be able to go see them.  I will try to be available as much as possible, but in general if there is a need you may contact Tina Johnston at tjohnston-stm@eupschools.org, or Mark Salisbury, and later on in the summer Fr. Brad Sjoquist, who will be the new pastor at St. Joseph's.

One effort that will be vital during the summer is recruitment.  There is good enrollment for each of the grade levels, so we are not considering combining any classes other than 7/8th this year, but there are some positions to fill.  We have been actively recruiting a Kindergarten teacher for next year, considering Lauren Andrews will be moving to head the Pre-K program. We have already gained two Pre-K aides, Margaret Swedene and Karen Goetz.

For 6th grade, I want to thank Mrs. Jones for her service this year and for stepping in to teach halfway through the year, and to establish a disciplined and rigorous curriculum for her students.  For the next year, Gretchen Jones has decided to move on from St. Mary's and focus on homeschooling her children, so we are recruiting for that 6th grade teacher position as well.   

Lastly, we will be recruiting a substitute teacher, because our semi-full time sub, Penny Sprague, will be spending time with family out of state next year.  I appreciate Mrs. Sprague's service this year, she covered a good portion of our school's classes.  As for the remaining teachers, I'm pleased to state that they have agreed to remain and teach for next year and are preparing even now for the 22-23 school year.  

The school has often been in similar situation in years past with empty teacher positions, and although not ideal, it is a problem solved by active recruitment by the school and word of mouth advertisement to potential candidates by the community. I will my best to facilitate the recruitment process by interviewing candidates and supporting their onboarding remotely.  Please feel free to share our job postings with anyone remotely interested and with a background in education, we will qualify them so no worries if you're not sure whether they would be a good fit.  CatholicJobs.com - Catholic Jobs Online - 6th grade position, CatholicJobs.com - Catholic Jobs Online - Kindergarten position

Lastly, a word about curriculum next year.  We are looking to align St. Mary's curriculum more closely to the diocesan Classical Liberal arts curriculum, which can be viewed on the Diocesan website.  We will be continuing much of what we have provided in the curriculum this year, including Art and Music, but the major emphasis will be on reading and writing skills.  Without the elementary ability to read, write, and speak well, in addition to the ability to listen to and dialogue with others well, the other subjects can't be mastered either, if studied at any depth at all.  Above all else, we will focus on our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ through spiritual, intellectual, and human formation.  As the principal my vision for the school is that we continuously strive to be the most trusted partner to parents in forming holy, wise, and virtuous graduates.  This year I have seen so much growth in students and impressive examples of that vision, that I am confident we will achieve our mission even more so next year.

The 2022-2023 school year will be filled with school community events that have been dormant for nearly 3 years.  Every month HASA has something planned to bring everyone back together and to connect people once more.  There are no restrictions on visitation and volunteering in the school, and with the return of the volunteer hour program, we expect a greater outpouring of mutual giving and receiving in the community.  St. John Paul II, our relatively recent Pope said "Man cannot find himself apart from making a sincere gift of himself."  God created us for community, and gave us talents not only for ourselves but for one another.  We hope that through opportunities to serve, parents and community members may also end up receiving back many fold more than they put in.  

I look forward to seeing you and the students in the Fall!

May God bless you and grant you a joyful, peaceful, and beautiful summer,
In Christ,
Tim Vail