Weekly Letter (Dec 11 ’17)

Dear Star Parents,

 Advent Week 2: When I taught 5th grade, one of my favorite supplemental sites for religion class was Busted Halo. This week, I thought I’d share what I showed the kids last year: What is Advent?

 Yesterday, on Sunday, we lit another purple candle, the Candle of Love. Reflecting on the past week, I realize I have witnessed many instances of love at school. I saw love of neighbor and environment when a third grader came to tell me of a kindergartener’s thoughtfulness in picking up after the older kids in the yard, without being asked!

 I saw parents chaperoning field trips, most notably those driving carloads of preteens all the way to San Jose’s Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum. Now, if that isn’t a show of love, I really don’t know what is. One of our Kindergarten dads lovingly prepared the main entree for hot lunch on Thursday, providing a healthy and delicious hot meal to those with lunch tickets as well as hungry teachers (and principal)! I saw Fr. John sharing his love of faith in the classrooms and teaching about Adoration. I was further blessed to witness a most beautiful Immaculate Conception Mass, prepared by the 4th graders who reminded us of Mary’s gift of love when she said, “Yes,” to God’s call.

 In Sunday’s gospel we hear John, Jesus’s cousin, calling us to, “Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight his paths.” When I heard this, I thought, Well, how am I to know if Jesus will come through this path that I am preparing? How am I supposed to recognize him when he comes into my life this Christmas?

 But in writing this letter, I realize preparing the path isn’t about all the stuff we, as parents and educators, are doing to prepare for Dec. 25. No, it’s about purposefully pausing during this busy time to recognize and share acts of love, like the ones I enumerated above. What is wondrous, is that those were just a few of the ways I witnessed His grace and loving presence in my life last week. There were and continue to be so many others.

 In this quiet time of reflection, I see how this school would not be the place it is and I could not help make it flourish without all of you and the love you have for this community. Each of you, no matter the role you have at Star, uniquely embody the love Jesus asks us to give one another in the Great Commandment.

 So, as we enter into the second week of Advent, I invite you to pause in the midst of all the activity to remember why we are doing what we are doing this busy holiday season and why we find ourselves here together.

 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16)

 Without this belief, Star of the Sea would not exist. And we Catholics believe He is the reason for this season. So, at least for myself, I know my job is and always has been more satisfying when I actively recognize the ways I witness God’s love in the hearts of others. This practice helps me pave the way for Jesus in my own heart, because it’s through the goodness of you that I find Him in me.

 Much love this week,

Mrs. Theresa Poon

Weekly Letter (Dec 4, ’17)

Dear Star Parents,

Advent Week 1: Musical accompaniment link: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

It seems like we’ve only just put away the Thanksgiving tablecloth and are already clearing room for the Christmas tree. Despite having been inundated with red and green and everything in between in the shops just after Halloween, it’s still hard to believe that we’re into the first week of Advent.

Here at school, there are a number of harbingers of this holy season, during which we joyfully prepare our hearts for Jesus’s birth. First, students see the nativity scenes in the halls. Each day brings a new statue of a shepherd, or an animal into the barn, surrounding an empty manger.

Also, the color purple becomes prominent on our bulletin boards and is the dominant color of the classroom prayer tables. Purple (or violet) is traditionally the primary color of Advent. While during Lent the color symbolizes repentance and fasting, during December, purple is the color of royalty, proclaiming Christ as king.

Advent wreaths are another common site on campus. An evergreen wreath is used to symbolize eternal life and yesterday, on Sunday, the first candle of the Advent Wreath, the Candle of Hope, was lit. A purple candle is lit this week on the Advent Wreath (this link is one you can share with your kids). If you have an Advent Wreath at home, you may want to use this link as a resource for your family. It is a beautiful prayer that you can share which also serves as a respite from the hustle and bustle of the season. And much hustle and bustle there is!

At school, we are not short on activities that keep our calendars full. The boy’s CYO basketball season begins. We are busily collecting gifts for our class Adopt-a-Family program. Christmas greens have been picked up and a number of swags and garlands are still available for sale. This Wednesday, Parent Club is meeting in the preschool building at 7 p.m. A number of classes continue to go on exciting field trips just as Progress Reports are being readied for distribution as latenext Monday. Laurel students will begin using the auditorium for their annual holiday show later this week into next week, and the 4th Grade is preparing for an all-school Mass this Friday at 1:45 p.m., to which you are warmly invited to attend.

I am excited to celebrate this joyful season with all of you.

Have hope full week,

Mrs. Theresa Poon

Weekly Letter (Nov 27, ’17)

Dear Parents,

 I hope you enjoyed your week off by relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s not about gift giving or receiving, but is a day set aside to take the time to be thankful for all of the blessings in our lives.

 This year my family joined another Star family at Sts. Peter and Paul to assist with serving Thanksgiving dinner and distributing clothes to those less fortunate. There were many moments during this time of volunteerism that I was reminded of how much I take for granted: a whole cup of juice, a bountiful plate, my family’s ability to gather together to experience the joys of the season, and our continued good health.

 I was again reminded of these moments of gratitude while reflecting on this week’s gospel (Matthew 25:31-46).

 ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did
for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

 Thus, we honor Christ by acknowledging that he is within all of us, and by responding with care and compassion towards the people around us.

 As we enter the Advent season and the increasingly busy time of preparing for Christmas, we will be offered opportunities to respond to others and ourselves with compassion and care. At school, our sixth graders will be going to the Food Bank. Gift giving lists for our Christmas families have already been distributed. And our Advent practice of inviting students to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation will allow each to also practice care and compassion for themselves.

December also gives us much to look forward to. There are a number of upcoming field trips and class activities. Our Annual Christmas Concert is on Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 5pm. All students are part of this joyful celebration. The change in date and time is due to sharing the church with our thriving parish and Ms. Bruno’s concert schedule with the other schools at which she works. The annual Guadalupe Mass is scheduled in the church after our concert and all are welcome to attend. Both offer ways in which to forget the rush and craziness of the commercial holiday season and get in touch with the true meaning of Christmas.

While December is a short month at school, it is packed with lots of events and good cheer. And that is what Advent is all about, the next four weeks will be spent waiting, with joyful anticipation, for our celebration of Jesus’s birth. He lived among us, not as a person of wealth, power, or authority, but as a poor man who spent His time among us feeding the hungry, teaching us about God’s love, forgiving sins, and healing.

And each day here at Star, no matter what time of year, we teach our students to be the sort of people who reach out to others, no matter how rich or how poor, with care and compassion.

May you find time to be compassionate towards yourself and one another this week,

Mrs. Theresa Poon

Weekly Letter (Nov 13 ’17)

Dear Star Parents.

I haven’t written in two weeks and I’ve been thinking about this for a while, so please forgive the length and the Halloween throwback. I suggest setting aside a little time and listening to this song as preface before reading.

On Halloween, I had a conversation with one of our students who despises Halloween. “It’s too scary,” he said. “Everything looks bigger, meaner, and scarier in the dark.”

And he’s right. I am most fearful in the dark when I feel most alone. Any movement or sound seems a sure sign of my imminent demise. Worse is the terror that comes after being in a huddle of friends recounting scary stories that usually begin with, “Have you heard about…?” And go on to describe some evil being you can summon with a mirror or gameboard by chanting something spooky. Typically, these stories end with, “It’s true, you know, believe me. I saw it… Or it happened to a friend.”

In times of change, such as we are experiencing here at Star, there’s lots of huddled groups, lots of stories, and lots of compounded fears in the darkness of the unknown. Normal things expected to be seen and heard in any Catholic school, like:

  • a new book fair, admittedly not as robust or as carefully planned due to our community’s tragic loss, but still a book fair that celebrates the heroes of our faith, as well as the dignity and goodness found in our humanity. We are teachers and didn’t foresee any conflicts with the stopgap, we just saw good books.(Insert shrug emoji)
  • the anticipation of Catholic Schools Week, The Walk for Life, and Vocations Day, all calendar events after January.
  • Catholic speakers – from the Papal Ninja to 20-somethings coming to talk about living a life of virtue in an X-rated world that infiltrates our children’s lives via something as seemingly innocuous as an online video game.
  • discussions of chastity and the sanctity of life in our Family Life lessons
  • the mere mention of nuns possibly returning to Star. Bringing a few nuns back into the fold is a move I personally embrace, especially considering the amazing women with whom I’ve had the privilege to work and have had the honor of calling mentor and friend..
  • kids being taught the Rosary, the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.
  • school families being invited to attend Sunday Mass and to maybe help pass out donuts while wearing their school sweatshirts. I mean really, are we really hating on donuts?

Right now, in our community, these things are looked upon with fear and skepticism while at any other parochial school worth their weight, these are not noteworthy things.

It seems to bear repeating that our school has a shiny, new six-year accreditation from the Western Catholic Educational Association, the highest score possible that extols not only our rigorous academic program and our incredible teachers, but also, and more importantly, recognizes our Catholicity – the active faith-filled Christian celebration of our faith in all that we say and do.

Since taking over the helm, I’ve wondered, even despaired over, why we seem so reticent to claim our Catholicity. Why do so many seem scared or ashamed of it? Why are we afraid to market, discuss or bring to light what is indeed our crowning glory – the lifework of Star’s staff and faculty members who, often at great personal sacrifice, have consistently worked to grow and nurture throughout our school’s existence? It is an achievement Mr. Hanley and all of us who work here are incredibly proud to have been given. And yet I ask the question, why is our teaching and living out of our religious faith here at Star proclaimed with a whisper instead of a shout?

I suspect the numerous emails I’ve received and conversations I’ve had that are centered on how scary things are is because we are in this precarious time of rebuilding broken relationships. Naturally, the bullet points above are deemed immediately suspect by some in our community because we are literally living in the crosshairs of the larger debate of what living a Catholic life actually means. No one’s defined it and that leaves a lot to interpretation, thus opening the way to fear and speculation. But within this uncertainty lies opportunity, too.

So, let’s get real. Many think the religious stuff we do here – which we’ve done in the past and some for as long as I’ve worked at Star – is odd or strange or just, “Ehh, whatever, that must just be a Catholic thing.” For others, what we do is downright scary.

This is our darkness… It is our grave lack of understanding and consensus of what it means to be Catholic. Worse is the deep seated fear that we will be examined and judged unworthy. (Am now subtly pointing back to the paragraph about our recent 6-year accreditation.)

Added to this is the question of who is accepted into this community. Will our non-Catholic family members continue to have a place at the table? Of course they will, at least for as long as they can accept and live with our weirdness. If not, what’ll I do with my atheist husband?!

Or how about our brothers and sisters who claim being a liberal Catholic, or a Catholic in name only? How about just C&E (that’s Christmas & Easter for you newbies) Catholics? Will we all be condemned as not Catholic enough…? Again? I have a college student who fits any and all of these descriptions. I would never condemn my daughter for her place on her faith journey, but I can invite her to remember the roots of her faith, nurtured here at Star. To be clear, I have been assured that all who accept and agree to the contents of our Family Handbook are still and will still be welcome.

Like some of you, I was walking around in this darkness, deep diving into it until I was near paralyzed. Then, when I stepped into this office, I was invited by the parish to help provide hospitality after the 9:30am Mass (this means bringing donuts – it’s ok if you didn’t know, I didn’t either). I’d heard about the practice of Ad orientem at Star from Terry, who’d attended Mass to provide hospitality once a month. He also told me he took bread kneeling at the altar rail, but with his hands, not his tongue (becauseewwww). At Star on Sundays, I’ve since learned that all are welcome to the altar rail to simulate a family gathering around the table to share a meal. And it doesn’t matter if you’re kneeling or standing, or receiving with hands or by tongue.

Was I scared to go to Mass at Star after nearly 3 years of going elsewhere? Yes. Did I go? Yes. Was it as scary as I thought? No. Was it different? A little. In all honesty, I witnessed what Terry always told me Mass at Star was for him. It was beautiful and reverent in its own right. So, now I know how my Grandma worships. Not particularly my cup of tea, but to each her own. And I’m not writing off my Grandma for the way she worships our God.

Truly, though, how Mass was celebrated didn’t matter. In the end, I’d heard The Word, received Eucharist, reconnected with parishioners, and met new friends. You see, I found the hospitality after Mass to be an extension of the message and celebration of Christ in our lives. In the yard, Father Illo told a joke I thought was funny and I laughed. Then we found ourselves laughing together. I watched our priests bless all the little children at Communion and witnessed them converse with Star parishioners over orange juice.

This is how relationships are built. A wave of hello, a few pleasantries, a little bit of give and take. A smile, a laugh. A little bit of kindness, a little bit of faith (perhaps in our case, a lot bit).

Now, before you start calling me a Pollyanna or start whispering about how I’ve been drinking the Catholic Kool-aid, let me just say I’m of the mind that people canchange – otherwise why would I ever be an educator? I am faith-filled enough to believe in redemption, am working to learn to love my neighbor, and I truly believe the Holy Spirit is at work beyond the church building, when we’re all sharing a laugh over a donut.

This year, I’ve chosen to work with what I have in front of me because there’s no sense in wandering around in the dark, over-examining and wringing my hands over the things of the past that brought me -us- such strife.

Regular exposure to the very things and people I once thought menacing has me realizing I’ve always been Catholic enough  – that the Catholic Kool-aid has alwaysbeen a consistent part of  my diet and that I sorta miss the donuts. Frankly, I am quite proud of how I’m growing in my faith and I don’t have to be defensive about how I live out the message of the gospel.

Will we continue to have our differences with the Parish? Yes, of course we will. Will things sometimes be uncomfortable, maddening, or seem downright terrifying as we travel this journey of reconciliation together? Yes, I’m sure things will. But God doesn’t help those who don’t help themselves. So, why should we continue to fret over what’s been bad? Why not look at and focus on all the good and the positives of what can be?

Therefore, while in this role, I’ve chosen to seek the good and I’ll keep on making decisions with the faculty about what’s best for our students, both academically and spiritually. We will continue to encourage a prayer life and offer messages of hope, love, peace, generosity, acceptance and resilience to help guide each into whole personhood. Ours will continue to be a community and curriculum based on our Student Learning Expectations, school mission, and charism of our founding Sisters. I will work tirelessly with our chaplain and our pastor to preserve and strengthen the Catholicity of our school.

I wonder if you might be willing to step into the light and join me in sharing a donut and sipping the Kool-aid as we come to realize that all the things that cast the big shadows and make us afraid are actually quite familiar things – stuff that’s not so scary once we see them for what they are. I’d rather do this with full transparency, and likely some bumbling around, welcoming in new information from the parish, digesting it and figuring out how it fits into who we are and have always been at Star.

In a world where fake news is a thing and the future seems all sorts of bad, where the norm is everyone shouting from their bubbles, maybe it’s time we hold out a hand and work to hear the Good News. Perhaps then we’ll come to realize we share common values and a similar vision of what a loving and faithful school community can be.

To laughter, donuts, and walking in the light,

Mrs. Theresa Poon


Weekly Letter (Oct 30 ’17)

Dear Parents:

 Your child’s results from the Fall 2017 Star Renaissance tests will be discussed at the mandatory Parent-Teacher conferences in November.

 Star Renaissance tests provide a snapshot of how your child performed during testing and are not indicators of classroom performance. Classroom performance should be the primary measure of your child’s skills and knowledge. If you have a concern about your child’s testing performance, please talk with your child’s teacher.

 In October of 2017, all San Francisco Archdiocesan students in grades 2‒8 were tested in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. Students in grades Kindergarten and 1 were also tested in Early Literacy.

 We pay close attention to the results of Star Renaissance testing. This information helps us improve the way we teach and, ultimately, do a better job of meeting every student’s learning needs.

 This fall 152 students were tested in Star Math and Reading in grades 2-8. In Mathematics, the overall school percentile rank was 72, meaning Star of the Sea students scored as well or better than 72% of the students who took the same tests. The results of the tests also show that 3 out of 4 Star of the Sea students are above average in Math, continuing an annual trend upward. In fact, 38% of Star of the Sea students who took the Star Math test scored at a high school grade equivalency.

In Reading, the results were just as impressive. 76% of the students who took the Star Reading test scored above average (50th percentile and above) and 34% are at a high school reading level.  Overall, about 75% of our students who were tested are consistently scoring above average in both Math and Reading and about 30% of the student population are operating at a high school equivalent.

The Parent’s Guide to Star Assessments can be found at this link. This document provides expanded information for families about testing and learning standards. If you have any questions about your child’s score report, please discuss them with your child’s teacher at Parent-Teacher conferences.

We know you want your child to succeed in school, and we want to be partners with you to make that happen. We welcome your calls and your visits. We hope you will share any ideas you may have about how we can continue to improve our school and your child’s learning.


Mr. David Gallagher
Vice Principal of Testing

Weekly Letter (Oct 23 ’17)

Dear Parents and Students,

As an educator, I can speak to the vast amount of personal time teachers spend thinking about their students and their families. It is not unlike the worry and fears, joy and pride a parent holds for their own child and family.

 On the weekends, as a teacher, I purposefully worked to focus my attention on my own children. As school principal, it is exponentially more difficult to keep such focus. This weekend was not exceptional in my struggle as I made significant mental efforts to pay attention to my 8th grader’s excitement in attending high school open houses and preparing for his Confirmation Commitment Mass.

 Even though it’s my third go around on this particular merry-go-round, it is my first time doing so as Star’s Principal. This title, I am discovering, doesn’t stay in the building on Fridays. And so, throughout the weekend, I bumped into Star families who I otherwise would not yet have met or who have already graduated. Each meeting was as personal and professionally fulfilling as it was unexpected.
While I temporarily lost my 8th grader in the throng of prospective students roaming the high school halls, I realized something.
As we each continue to struggle with all that has changed here at Star, it is equally important to realize and truly see how so much has stayed the same.

  • Star teachers and parents are still deeply committed to the fulfillment our school mission. (The classes’ Gala projects are beautiful!)
  • Our children are excitedly gearing up for Halloween. (All costume rules still apply!)
  • Star’s student leaders are reminding us each to be Active Faith-Filled Christians as they continue to coordinate projects to feed the hungry and gather clothes for those struck by tragedy. (Yes, the emphasis of “new” for the socks & underwear made me laugh.)
  • During Sunday the school and parish Confirmandi gathered at Mass to commit to their special journey toward becoming adults in our Church. (More than once, from both school families and parishioners, I was told how wonderful it was to have school families share in the Mass again.)

It is all of this together which makes us a uniquely Catholic school. For as we are rocked by so much change, this remains constant: Catholic schools are special because our lessons are not about “tolerance.” We teach forgiveness and “love.” We encourage students to have faith in God by assuring them that God has faith in them. Yes, teaching children academics is very important, but pales in the light of teaching a child to accept and share God’s love. This unchanging aspect of our school spirit is embedded in the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet’s charism and is an intrinsic part of Star’s foundation: “We are moving always toward the profound love of God and love of neighbor without distinction.”

So, perhaps this is why it is so difficult to separate my thoughts of our school family from those of my own – so much of what is Star is inherently part of my family’s home life, too.

As we embark on the busy-ness of this week, may we each strive to find God’s love in ourselves and seek to discover His loving presence in one another.

Thank you for all you do,

Mrs. Theresa Poon

Weekly Letter (Oct 16 ’17)

Dear Parents,

I’ll keep my letter very short this week because the Conference Requests must be turned in soon.


It’s that time of year when we begin looking to our annual mandatory Parent / Teacher Conferences. We wait until the end of the first quarter because by this time the teachers are better able to point out strengths and areas in which growth is needed.

Looking back at my approach to conferences as a new parent, I remember them being nerve wracking. And as a new teacher, I was just as nervous. But as the years passed and my experiences deepened, I’ve come to really enjoy conferences. It is a time when all involved parties: teacher, parents, and students (in the third floor classrooms) have dedicated time to reflect on each student’s successes and challenges. It is a time to get to know one another, decide on goals, and set up a plan.

Conferences are 15 minutes long with your child’s homeroom teacher and are mandatory.

This year, the sign ups for preferred time slots is on-line, which you can find at this link.

We will organize the schedule making every effort to give you the time and date you chose, but this is all done on a first come, first serve basis. Please do not ask for an exact time, we simply cannot do that with 230 conferences to schedule. Any family who does not get this form back to school by October 28 will simply be assigned a time. Thank you for your prompt reply to this, and we look forward to productive conferences.

Mrs. Theresa Poon


Weekly Letter (Oct 10 ’17)

Dear Star Families,

When it comes to the planning of our annual Stella Maris Gala, I’ve been feeling like the White Rabbit of Alice and Wonderland — like I should be running around with a pocket watch announcing to all and sundry that “I’m Late! I’m Late!” But, fortunately, I’ve just learned there is still time for each of us to fully participate in one of our most anticipated evening events!

The Gala is only a few weeks away and we still need all community members to donate auction items and buy tickets to attend. Not only do we honor two of our most beloved members of the Star community but the Gala is our biggest fundraiser of the year, all funds benefit the entire school. We greatly depend on the generosity of our families for the success of this event.

I’ve already offered up my 8th grader to act as wait-staff and put “Principal For A Day” and two batches of “Mrs. Poon’s Homemade Lumpia” (ready for fryer or freezer) on the auction block.

So, how can you contribute to making our Gala’s evening at the Mad Hatter’s Table a night to remember? Well, I’ve cut and pasted the next section to help you see how easy it is to get involved.


This is a gentle reminder to all, that every family is required to either donate or solicit an item to be included in the Gala’s auction. Currently, family participation is extremely low.  The Gala is less than 4 weeks away and Gala organizers ask that you please bring your donations to the school office ASAP.

The Gala’s Online ONLY Auction will go live this week.  For your item to be featured in the auction, be sure to get your items in within the next two weeks.

Monday, 10/23/17, is the cutoff date for recognition in the event program.  

Please complete the donation form and submit it to the office or e-mail it to [email protected].  Physical items and certificates may be turned into the school office with the completed form.

Please be reminded that all families are required to either solicit or donate an item to the annual Gala, which helps us raise funds for our beloved school.

Additionally, if you haven’t purchased your Gala tickets yet, it’s not too late! The RSVP form is also attached. Thank you for supporting Star!

Mrs. Theresa Poon

Weekly Letter (Oct 2, ’17)

Dear Star Parents and Families,

This week we celebrate the feast of our city’s holy patron, St. Francis of Assisi. I grew up in my Catholic school, St. Patrick’s in San Jose, listening to the Prayer of St. Francis during Mass. It is one of my favorite songs to sing. In fact, I am listening to it now as I write.

As the lyrics fill this room, I realize I have had the job of being a peacemaker for quite a long time. After all, I worked in the 5th-grade classroom for over a decade. During the course of that time, I watched the power of peace in action — which was most often during the ten minutes after recess.

Ten-year-olds, you see, are amazing people. They are so readily able to discover a place of peace among themselves in times of utter discord with their neighbor. Even though they can be the worst at holding grudges about wrongs done as far back as preschool, it always amazed me when I witnessed how they still found ways to peacefully and cooperatively work together in the classroom simply because it is what we ask of them at Star.

In short, we ask them to practice the healing power of forgiveness, and often miraculously, they rise to expectation.

So, as I listen to St. Francis’s Prayer, I realize just how fitting the prayer is when I consider the work we are meant to do at Star this year.

The song is a call to the greatest form of love, one that transcends old hurts and pain. One that reminds us of what we as Catholic Christians strive to do:

To be an instrument of God’s peace
To show love where there is hatred
To bring harmony to discord
To pardon an injury
To bring truth where there is falsehood
To show faith during times of doubt
To clasp onto hope when there is despair
To bring light into darkness
and to find joy despite heart rendering sadness.

This is by no means an easy call, but here in this place, it is one in which we firmly believe and work toward every day. So, as always, I look to the children as models. They are the ones who remind me on a daily basis that such peace is possible and worthy of being accomplished.


This week, I wish you much peace,

Mrs. Theresa Poon


Weekly Letter (Sep 25 ’17)

Dear Star families,

Through my life’s most difficult trials I have been told that God does not give us more than we can handle. It’s an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:13. After the month we’ve had so far, I have to admit that there have been moments, even whole days and nights, when I have called into question the veracity of this Scripture reading.

Upon preparing to write this letter, I have thought on this saying and forced myself to gather my thoughts away from the overwhelming fatigue, grief, and stress of the last few weeks. Instead, I have sought to pay attention to the life lessons as taught by the children who fill Star’s halls and classrooms.

For example:

  • The light in an 8th grader’s eyes when she figures out an equation in Mr. Chen’s room.
  • The 7th grader patiently caring for his little Church buddy during an all school Mass.
  • The 6th grader showing off her very first Social Studies test grade to her father, ecstatic by the results.
  • The 5th graders grinning ear to ear every time I visit my former classroom.
  • The 4th graders scribbling down notes, listening attentively as I pass by their open door.
  • The 3rd graders telling me to look at their science experiment on germs clearly labeled next to the door. It’s pretty gross, by the way. 
  • The 2nd graders learning to be quiet and considerate in the halls and their silly attempts at shushing each other.
  • The 1st graders’ excitement about their recent “trip” to Latin America.
  • The Kindergartners’ shockingly strong high-fives.

Even the preschoolers show me again the excitement of the future as I was recently regaled with their numerous proclamations of soon reaching their 4th year of life and how I am definitely invited to a number of their birthday parties which, you should all know, are in February.

They’ve all retaught me that there are still reasons to smile, even laugh, and find the strength to take on the daunting and oft uncomfortable tasks that are the sole duties of a school principal.

So now, while I still find little comfort in the overused recounting of the Bible verse above, I have discovered great solace in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, in which it is written, “God will give you all the grace you need in every situation you face.” This grace is very much alive and real.

I’ve discovered through Fr. Vito, Fr. Illo, and Fr. John as they have helped guide me in the ministerial aspects of this job. Grace is given to me by the faculty and staff, who have gone beyond the call of duty to bring the school back to feeling like a grade school in the September days approaching fall and who have helped return the joyous sound of children at play during recess – a sound I know Mr. Hanley so loved.

I have discovered God’s grace in you, the parents, who’ve not only cared for your children through this most trying of times, but have brought your love and support to the schoolyard where you are most visible and appreciated by all who work here.

Mostly, however, I discover daily grace through Star’s students, who I love with an abundance, a love of which I had not been previously aware. It is for them that I work tirelessly and this is a promise I will keep for as long as I am given the privilege of fulfilling this role left by one of the most wonderfully understanding and compassionate men for whom I’ve had the pleasure to work.

The gift Mr. Hanley left me is the full realization of the beauty and joy found in what I’d always considered a thankless job. Because now, in doing it, I more completely understand how it is we, together have and will continue to do the Lord’s work here at Star of the Sea.


Have a blessed week.

Mrs. Theresa Poon