Dear Saint Joseph Academy Parents and Guardians,
Welcome to the 2020-2021 academic year! Since 1890, Saint Joseph Academy has been dedicated to providing an unparalleled education to young women, helping them deepen their faith while developing them to become compassionate leaders our world so desperately needs. We are so proud to be in our 131st year!
Although we will remain flexible and nimble in many ways, Saint Joseph Academy will be unwavering in our commitment to provide a faith-based, challenging, individualized educational experience to our students, whether on campus or remotely. We take your trust in choosing Saint Joseph Academy for your daughter(s) very seriously; we know that her/their safety, well-being and intellectual development are paramount.
Our “Character of a Saint Joseph Academy Graduate” statement signals the spiritual outcomes we aspire for each young woman who attends the Academy. It reads:
In the tradition of the Congregation of St. Joseph, the graduate of Saint Joseph Academy is a woman who lives unifying love through empathetic justice, service to the dear neighbor without distinction, personal integrity and emerging wisdom.
During their four years at the Academy, students explore ways to grow in these spiritual attributes. To guide them throughout their high school journey, there is a theme each year that focuses on one of the key attributes. That particular attribute is integrated into the Academy’s summer reading theme, classroom pedagogy and service learning opportunities. Our alumnae of all ages would agree these attributes are worth striving towards.
This year’s theme is “Women of Unifying Love.” Part of that calls for the cultivation of Empathetic Justice. That is defined as “Devoted to doing justice with compassion and respect for others, she (the Saint Joseph Academy graduate) works for systemic change to bring about global equality.” Without concern for justice, we cannot truly be agents of God’s unifying love in our world. Topics of diversity, equity and inclusion are on our minds. We need to continue to work together to create a culture and environment that signals that each person in our community belongs and is valued, and we will extend this into our larger world. To advance this important work, we need to listen, share opinions and get to know the dear neighbor without distinction. You will hear more about our efforts in regard to our theme and our focus on Empathetic Justice as the year proceeds.
We warmly welcome the Class of 2024 into our school community. As these students embark on their high school journey, everyone at Saint Joseph Academy is ready to support them in becoming the young women God calls them to be.
Fitzmaurice Hall, named in honor of Mother Theresa Fitzmaurice, CSJ, is now open to students and faculty. The renovation both preserved the building's rich history and distinctive architecture while updating it to support 21st century education. In the current COVID-19 climate, the beautiful, spacious CORE Ministry and Social Studies classrooms and common areas allow more students on campus during the school day while providing us the necessary space to safely distance students.
The new Makerspace innovation lab is nearly complete! It is four times the size of the former space and features a modern, flexible setting filled with advanced technology. This interactive, hands-on innovation lab, remains a focal point for student experimentation, creativity and learning both inside and outside the classroom. If in the last few years the 3D printers hummed with nearly 10,000 hours of creative print jobs, we can’t even imagine how much can be accomplished in this new area! Using this incredible space and equipment, Saint Joseph Academy pledges to challenge and excite students with possibilities for design, collaboration, innovation and discovery.
We are grateful to our dedicated faculty and staff for their professional commitment to their growth as educators and to our students, including the following new educators who are joining our community:
Mr. Paul Gambon, Substitute Teacher/Co-teacher: Mr. Gambon earned a Bachelor of Science from Loyola University of New Orleans and Master of Science from the University of North Florida. He first joined the Academy last spring as a substitute Chemistry teacher. Previously, he taught Science at Bishop Kenny High School in Jacksonville, FL and worked for many years as a laboratory scientist.
Mrs. Taylor Lagzdins, Social Studies Teacher: Mrs. Lagzdins recently earned a Master of Education in Urban Secondary Teaching from Cleveland State University. She graduated magna cum laude from Baldwin Wallace University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies. A West Park resident, Mrs. Lagzdins has been an active volunteer in organizations dedicated to promoting equity, empowerment and social justice.
Ms. Sarah Manszuk, Substitute Teacher/Co-teacher: Ms. Manzuk is a Saint Joseph Academy Class of 2016 graduate. She went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts History and Social Studies from Cleveland State University, graduating magna cum laude, as well as her licensure in Integrated Social Studies Secondary Education.
Maxim 2 of the Congregation of St. Joseph calls us to strive to do our best in all things, to be who God created us to be. The Sisters refer to this as a call to “the more.” As our school community strives to do our best in all things, we reflect deeply on the lessons we learned in the spring.
When we listened to our families, students and recalled on our own experiences teaching in a remote setting, consistent themes emerged:
Strong relationships and community must be prioritized.
Live, in-person instruction during periods of remote learning is essential.
Time management and communication skills must be nurtured in our students.
Faculty and staff need to strengthen and streamline communication to students and families.
We were also reminded of the importance of our partnership with families and the need to be flexible as we creatively and persistently respond to new challenges. For example, Commencement, Prom and Walk of the Roses could not have happened for the Class of 2020 without the innovation, effort and prayer of the entire community. We remain committed to preserving the sacred traditions that define the Saint Joseph Academy experience for our students and their families. Just like classroom instruction, our community rituals may take new forms, but relationships remain at the heart of all we do.
With students learning both on campus and remotely in this unique 2020-21 school year, we embrace the challenges of our new “normal” and strive to do our best in all things. We’ve implemented a flexible master schedule that provides an opportunity to build and nourish relationships while also maintaining safe and healthy social distance. The timing of the Congregation of St. Joseph’s gift of the additional learning spaces of Fitzmaurice Hall and the generosity of our benefactors at this critical time in the history of our school reminds us that God is with us at all times. Six months ago, we did not imagine that we would need more space to meet the challenges of a global pandemic, yet God anticipates our needs and answers prayers before we ask them.
We are people of faith and hope who are strengthened by the knowledge that God will continue to provide us the resources we need. And, as divine beings created in God’s own image, God empowers us to create beauty in new forms, to invent new technologies, and to discover solutions to problems both anticipated and unanticipated. We have the capacity and the calling to make manifest a more perfect, more unified world, “that all may be one.”
As we commence on a new school year of providing excellence in the education of young women, we thank you for your confidence in Saint Joseph Academy. We take our responsibility of helping your daughter(s) deepen her/their relationship(s) with God and achieve her/their personal best with the utmost importance.
We pledge to communicate often with you throughout this extraordinary year.
With much gratitude,
President Mrs. Kathryn Purcell
Principal Mr. Jeff Sutliff