Weekly Letter (Apr. 30 ’18)

Dear Parents,

Your decision about where your sons and daughters go to school is one of the most important that you will ever make and will often influence the decisions that they make later in life: choice of career, enduring friendships, pastimes, faith and worship practices and primary values. Therefore it deserves great attention and discernment on your part.

The intent of this week’s letter is to emphasize the value Catholic Liberal Education (CLE) can provide your child and to address the concerns that have been expressed to me from the various conversations that I have had with parents regarding a move to a liberal model. Many do not fully understand what exactly is meant by a Catholic Liberal Education and some, at this point, are not sure of its value.

More than simply preparing children for high school, college, and career, a liberal education focuses on developing a coherent vision of life by means of a curriculum rooted in truth, goodness and beauty. It has proven a most effective preparation for developing the practical skills and technical education so needed in today’s technological careers. Rather than educating for immediate test scores, it focuses on learning to think in in the broadest application for all disciplines. CLE develops in the child capacities of wonder and awe. In this way it fosters true creativity rather than mere productivity.

I would like to emphasize that as Star of the Sea moves forward into CLE, we will do it slowly and purposefully. There will be no changes in the core curriculum or textbooks during the 2018-19 school year. During this time our teachers and administrators will participate in CLE training beginning with my trip to Washington, D.C. in July. We will develop professional connections and relationships with other schools who have had success with CLE, particularly St. Theresa in Alhambra. We will form committees of parents, teachers, parishioners, clergy, and experts in CLE to study curriculum, pedagogy, and how to strategically market the school. We will conduct meetings and surveys to gain input from parents, answer their questions, and listen to their concerns.

The first meetings will be this week – and we do apologize for the short notice but we are keenly aware of the need for information and clarity –

Wednesday, May 2, for parents of kindergartners and first graders

Thursday, May 3, for parents of students in grades 2 and 3

Friday, May 4, for parents of students in Grades 4 and 5

Meetings will begin at 7pm on Wednesday and Thursday nights; on Friday the meeting will begin promptly at 6pm.  Childcare will be provided in the AV/Extended Care room on all three days.   Parents should gather in the techology lab on the second floor across from Mrs. Poon’s office.

Catholic elementary schools in San Francisco face the challenge of dwindling population year after year.  Each year there are closures.  If Star of the Sea is to remain viable for the foreseeable future, work must be done to update, invigorate and market our school every year.  Sometimes the emphasis is on marketing, sometimes on test results, sometimes on the WCEA/WASC evaluation.  This year it is on curriculum and through the Archdiocese, the suggestion of adopting a liberal curriculum will give Star of the Sea a unique spot on the spectrum of Catholic education; it is hoped to rally the community, inspire the faculty, and renew the school once again.  Looking at the satisfaction level associated with this model makes projection for Star of the Sea very positive.

In sum, we wish to support you in developing an understanding of the Catholic Liberal Education. Visit the websites of schools that currently use this model particularly St. Therese, Alhambra.  https://sainttheresecarmeliteschool.com/

Read the educational plan of St. Jerome’s Classical school, particularly the sections that apply to your son or daughter’s grade level where you will find concrete information on curriculum: kindergarten begins p. 23.  St. Jerome School Educational Plan

Every family is valued at Star of the Sea and it is difficult to see even one family leave. Studying the value of a move towards a new curriculum model is done solely with the interest of the Star community in mind. Under my leadership the faculty will continue to provide quality education in a community of care and love.

Yours in Christ,
David R. Gallagher

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