Weekly Letter (Nov 12, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

The work of a principal is multi-faceted. I am surprised at how many different responsibilities fall under the umbrella of the job. As a principal, I am involved in developing curriculum, assessing teaching methods, monitoring student achievement, encouraging parent involvement, revising policies and procedures, administering the budget, hiring and evaluating staff, overseeing facilities, not to mention bringing in the garbage dumpsters on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

But I am also a credentialed English teacher. And I have to say that after having taught for 20 years, teaching is, without question, the most important career there is. No other career affects as many people in as many ways as teaching does.

Teachers help to shape the minds and futures of many and they do this at all critical stages of life. Our Kindergarten, First Grade and Second Grade teachers, Mrs. Robinson, Miss Skoblick and Miss Conway, introduce young minds to the wonder and joy of learning and to the basic tools of education that students will use the rest of their lives. Elementary school teachers, Miss Ruiz, Mrs. Dominguez, and Miss Mosuela have the arduous task of inculcating a passion for academics in groups of tweens, whose minds are focused on their own development and their distinctive social worlds. Our middle school teachers, Mrs. Wesolek, Mr. Chen, Mrs. Lundy and Miss Dharmer are charged with teaching intellectual content to groups of  teens and pre-teens whose lives are often pretty intense both on the outside and on the inside.

There are few vocations in society that rival the importance of a teacher. Well known people in any field: music, athletics, engineering, medicine, politics – have a multitude of teachers to thank for teaching them the skills and values that allow them to be successful. Teachers are the builders of society. We build people here at Star of the Sea School. We build and develop future generations. There is no more important profession.

Take care and God bless,

 

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Nov 5, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

We are deep into fall and more than a week into the second quarter.  This month, we have our final Open House, which takes place on Thursday, November 15th. We invite all prospective Kindergarten parents to campus to encounter our school, our students, our faculty and staff,  as well as to learn about our classical curriculum. If you know of any interested families, please encourage them to see Star of the Sea up close and personal on this wonderful morning. Signups are here.

Below are some of the many events happening this month at Star of the Sea School.

Thanksgiving Canned Food Drive

We are in the midst of our annual Thanksgiving canned food drive, in which we donate all collected food to the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank where our sixth and seventh graders have been volunteering for the past several years. Please encourage your student to bring in canned goods to school. Thank you so much for your efforts to help the neediest in our community.

November 6-9: Parent-Teacher Conferences and Scholastic/Green Apple Book Fair

Please be sure to check for the time and date of your parent-teacher conferences. Conferences are fifteen minutes in length so please arrive promptly. We will also have a Book Fair in the auditorium and Green Apple Books on Clement Street will have a section of discounted books just for Star of the Sea students as selected by their teachers.

November 5-16: Interim STAR Testing Window

November 21st – 23rd:  School Closed, Thanksgiving Holidays

Friendly reminder that school will be closed Wednesday, November 21st, through Friday, November 23rd, for the Thanksgiving holidays.  It is our sincere hope that students are able to spend this time connecting with family and reflecting on the many blessings in their lives.   

Please continue to support all of our extracurricular activities. Our volleyball and soccer teams are finishing up their seasons and will participate in playoff games. Signups for boy’s basketball and cross country have also begun. In addition, Star middle schoolers will participate in the Quiz Bowl on November 17th at Riordan High School.  Please come out and support the Hawks as they take to the field and the floor!

As always, we thank you for entrusting your children to us, and we look forward to a productive and exciting month.

Take care and God bless

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 29, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

As we enter this new era in the 109 year history of Star of the Sea School it is important for all of us to think positively and focus on the opportunities before us. I watched a film last weekend on television called Up In the Air. In that film, the actor George Clooney played a character whose job was to fire people for companies that were downsizing. He always began his termination speech with, “I am here to talk to you about new opportunities.”  It is a bit of spin, a bit condescending to be sure, but it is also true.

We are in a time of transition at Star, a time for new opportunities. Some of the old patterns and routines have changed. It is natural that we may feel unsteady. But these are also the times when we are most amenable to change. Now is the time to begin anew, to explore, brainstorm, and consider carefully the changes to the school before we begin to naturally solidify into new patterns. We have a unique opportunity to begin in a new way. This is the time to think outside the box.

But it is difficult to do this all on our own. We will need to continue to develop new relationships, to lean on each other for support. We need to have realistic expectations, to have patience and understand that it may take some time to get the school back on solid ground again. We will need the constant support of our truly outstanding parent volunteers. They have already done so much for the school just in the first two months of our gradual transition into being the first school in the Archdiocese of San Francisco to adopt a Classical Education curriculum.This positive spirit of community has always been a hallmark of Star and it is what will help us keep perspective on what lies before us.

A time of transition is when we toss off the old but have not yet stepped into the new. While the circumstances are always different, some things stay the same such as the distinct spirit of the Star of the Sea School Community. Like that Star spirit, the skills and attitudes needed to successfully move ahead are always constant, namely being positive, patient, proactive, and recognizing that Star of the Sea remains true to its mission: to help our students develop their God-given potential in order to lead them to Jesus.

A new journey awaits.

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 22, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

This Friday, the 26th marks the end of the first quarter grading period for the 2018-2019 school year. We are looking forward to meeting with you at our upcoming Parent/Teacher conferences during the week of November 5-9. Please be sure to schedule a conference here if you have not done so already.  The conference schedules will be sent out later this week and will also be posted online on SchoolPages.  To help ensure your conferences go as smoothly as possible, I want to provide some background information and insight into the process.

It is very important that you review your son or daughter’s report card before the conference and to bring the signed report card with you.  It is helpful to write down any questions or concerns you may have in advance to ensure they are addressed. In addition, we encourage you to bring something to write with and something to write on if you have specific questions.

Each teacher will be meeting with many parents during the week so it is critical that we adhere to the scheduled time limit of 15 minutes. Although your conference will end when the bell rings, you can follow up with any further questions or concerns via email. Unfortunately, anyone arriving late to a conference can only be allotted the remaining scheduled time in order to give full time to the next family.

Although art, music, technology and P.E. teachers will not be available for conferences, we encourage you to email them with any specific questions or concerns you may have.

One final note, the Laurel School and our preschool will have full school days during this week so please keep this in mind when parking and only park in designated spots. It is imperative that vehicles not block drop off, safety, or pick up locations.

We want this to be a positive and rewarding experience for everyone. Thank you, in advance, for helping us make that possible.

Take care and God Bless,

 

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 15, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

There is a lot going on at Star of the Sea School over the next couple of weeks. Our next Open House, our most important admissions event, takes place on our campus on Thursday, October 18th, from 9:00 am to 11:00 am.  Please encourage all family and friends with prospective kindergarten students to attend this amazing event. As we move closer to the month of November, keep in mind that we will have two more Open Houses on the 1st and the 15th.

Children and teens love to sing. It is an expression of emotion and helps bring us closer together. We have three wonderful music teachers this year in Mr. Gresens, Ms. Ascoff, and Mr. Kraehling who are doing some great work with our students. In addition, during the week of October 29th we have a great opportunity for our students to learn the Catholic Church’s original style of music: chant.  That week we will have a chant teacher from the Benedict XVI Institute, an organization dedicated to sacred music and art, come to Star of the Sea School to teach our students chant which they will then sing at our All Saints Day Mass on November 1st at 2 pm. Towards the end of the school year we have the opportunity to be included on the professionally recorded CD Children Chant SF. Proceeds from the CD will be returned to every school or parish that participates in order to support our music program.

Our Halloween Party will be on the 26th of October in the auditorium and we will have our annual Halloween Parade and Costume Contest on October 31st at 2:00 pm. Students are allowed to dress in costume on that day but we do have some guidelines. These guidelines were sent home with the students but I will reinforce them here. Please avoid any gore, violence, or blood. Do not dress up as characters from horror films and there are no weapons allowed as a part of a costume. What we would like to see are students dressed as people that we look up to and admire such as a scientist or inventor, a fictional character from a  book, someone famous from history, a great athlete, or maybe even…a saint.

Take care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 09, ’18)

Dear Parents and Students,

The month of October is one of two months dedicated to Mary. The month of October is also dedicated to the Holy Rosary. The Rosary calls to mind the most important events in the life of Jesus. October 7 is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.

According to an account by a fifteenth-century Dominican priest, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying. Mary praised him and then gave him the Rosary. She explained its uses and effectiveness to St. Dominic, and told him to tell other people about it.

Praying the Rosary regularly encourages us to slow down in our very busy lives. This, in turn, should encourage us to live life at a slightly slower pace than most people. We learn from Mary how to look at an experience and think about what it means for us. This slower pace also allows us to be present, to notice when someone needs help, to wait patiently for our turn, to focus on what is happening now. The Rosary will teach you this and that is why all Catholics should pray the rosary, especially during the month of October.

Report Cards will be sent home on November 5th and parent-teacher conferences will be held on November 6-9. Please sign up for times and days using our online scheduling system. Parent-teacher conferences last for fifteen minutes and are mandatory for all parents. If for any reason, you are unable to schedule a conference during that week, send an email to the teacher to schedule an appointment for a suitable time. There should be no “surprise” grades because progress reports went out last week and report cards will be given out before conferences.

Thank you for your support in every area of our school. Our parent volunteers have given so much of their time so far this year and have many fun, community building events planned for the coming months.  A special word of thanks to the those of you who volunteered at our first Open House of the year last Thursday, especially to our 8th grade tour guides, Vincent, Sinead, Johann, Aubry, Leia, Bailey, Kianna, Kay, Eva, and William.

Take care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Oct 01, ’18)

Dear Star of the Sea Families,

Our mission at Star of the Sea School is to form Catholic leaders. Family and school represent the primary environments in which our children grow and develop, and at Star of the Sea, we value your involvement as parents. The foundation for good parent-teacher relationships includes frequent and open communication, mutual respect, and a clear understanding of what is best for each individual student.

We will host our first Open House of the school year this Thursday, October 4th, at 9 AM in the auditorium. We will have subsequent Open Houses on the 18th of October and the 1st and 15th of November. Open Houses are generally for families who are looking for a quality Kindergarten program. So why am I informing parents whose children are already enrolled in our Kindergarten through 8th grades about our Open Houses?

The reason is simple: Word of Mouth. Even though the school has an active marketing committee and has dramatically increased its presence on social media (check out our Facebook page), Word of Mouth remains the most valuable form of marketing—the one that parents trust above all others and the one that is most likely to increase enrollment for the school. If we want to generate interest in and publicity for all the great things that we do at Star of the Sea, we need to unleash the power of word of mouth. According to a Nielsen Consumer Survey, 92% of the people surveyed believe recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising. That is pretty powerful. So spread the word about what a great school this is. Like that old shampoo commercial from the 80’s said, “It was so good, I told two friends about it, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on…”

Thank you for the sacrifices you make and for your constant support of Catholic education and the mission of Star of the Sea School. Let us ask God for the conviction to live our Catholic faith and to carry Jesus’s message into the lives of our children, creating Catholic leaders and ultimately – saints!

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Sep 24, ’18)

Dear Star of the Sea Families,

This past Thursday Miss Ruiz and the third grade had a very special visit from two Carmelite sisters, Sister Scholastica and Sister Gianna. Carmelite sisters are religious women completely dedicated to serving God and the Church. The sisters care for the elderly, staff and administer at schools and child care facilities, and conduct retreats so that people can grow closer to their faith. The Carmelite sisters spent the morning with the third graders praying, singing, and discussing the religious life.

If you stop and think about it, we, as a school, have a lot in common with the sisters. We both pray daily together. We both express our faith through good works and service to the community. But the most important thing we have in common is our devotion to Mary, Star of the Sea, our guiding light who remains with us as we attempt to live in union with God and to respond as she always did, in complete devotion to Jesus.

I spent a lot of time this week visiting classrooms and spending time at lunch and at mass with the students This is what I saw. I saw a first grader after school in the yard burst from the group of waiting classmates and jump joyfully into her father’s arms. I remember when my son used to do that, though now it would likely break my back. I saw the 7th and 8th graders with their little mass buddies guiding them in the ways of the liturgy and helping them to calm their wiggles and focus on their faith. I saw all of my faculty and staff members working tirelessly to be the very best they can be and share their passion for learning with their students. It is my hope that the Star of the Sea community can glimpse even a glimmer of the same, so keep your eyes open. It is a beautiful thing to see!

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Sep 17, ’18)

Dear Star of the Sea Families,

Last Wednesday we had our first Parent Club meeting of the new school year and it was fantastic. I have attended many Parent Club meetings here as a teacher or to occasionally fill in for Mr. Hanley and I have never seen such an impressive turnout of parents. Let’s try to carry this positive energy and enthusiasm all the way through June 7th, and beyond. A large thank you to all of the parents who came out to the meeting and are serving the school on various committees, and an extra large thank you to our Parent Club co-presidents, Leah McLean and Ruth Callanan, as well as to all of our committee chairpersons. Our next PC meeting will be on October 10th at 7 PM in the auditorium. Mark it on your calendars because the class with the highest percentage of parents attending will be awarded with a free Thursday Lunch the following month.

Students and teachers finished our September Star baseline tests this week and the results are impressive, as usual. In Math, 46.3% of our students scored at the 75th percentile or above and in Reading, 40% of our students scored at the 75th percentile or above. Standardized test scores, along with in-class assignments and teacher observations, are used by teachers in several ways: to make instructional determinations, to set obtainable goals for students to work towards, and to help inform decisions such as choosing students groups, creating seating charts and differentiating curriculum for individual students. Test results will be shared with parents during Parent-Teacher conferences in November but remember, one test score does not determine all that a student is or isn’t. It is useful data but teachers spend the entire year collecting all sorts of valuable information that informs and influences how they teach, as well as where and what they review, readjust and reteach.

Take Care and God Bless,

Mr. David Gallagher
Principal

Weekly Letter (Sep 10, ’18)

Dear Star of the Sea Families,

Thank you to all of you who came to our weekly school mass on Wednesday to celebrate the life of our former principal, Mr. Hanley. It was nice to see so many familiar faces and spend a little time together reminiscing and catching up.  Thank you also, and a belated welcome, to Fr. Taheny, one of our new priests who we will have around campus to visit classrooms and say masses. We look forward to working with you this school year.

This Wednesday is our first Parent Club meeting. We would like as many parents as possible to attend Parent Club meetings this year so we are adding a little more incentive to attend, in addition to our normal free dress the following day. More details will follow in the coming weeks but suffice it to say, your kids will be happy if you come to Parent Club meetings, especially if a lot of parents from the same class attend (hint). Parent Club meets the second Wednesday of each month at 7PM in the auditorium. There will be refreshments.

Each month, starting this week, I, or another member of the faculty, will write a small article about our efforts to move toward a classical curriculum. It will be called Classical Corner.

Take care and God bless,