Days before the first day of school on Sept. 9, All Saints Academy Principal Sister Eileen Wust scrambled with last-minute details, such as moving her office down the hall from the front of the building. It was one of many small adjustments the school is making as a result of lessons learned from its first year in operation.
Although the school had staff to handle incoming calls last year, they were located in different parts of the building and did not know to answer the phone when other lines were tied up. By relocating them within eyesight of each other in the small office complex near the front door, the problem got solved.
A similar situation was resolved concerning the after-school program by purchasing a phone that allowed parents arriving late to notify teachers inside the school.
Sponsored by Our Lady of the Assumption, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Saint Andrew, Saint Henry, Saint Joseph, Saint Michael, Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Mary, Star of the Sea churches, All Saints Academy was established as a result of a meeting in 2006 between the pastors of the churches, who recognized that Bayonne could no longer sustain four parish schools.
But Sister Wust said the second year of the new school seems to show that a Catholic elementary school is viable.
With 488 students registered, the school does not have to raise tuition, one of the keys to survival in a time when families are strapped for cash.
“While we would like more students, we have enough to keep from raising tuition,” she said.
“While we would like more students, we have enough to keep from raising tuition.” – Sister Eileen Wust
Sister Wust credited the Home and School Association with helping in this regard.
“They raised a lot of money for us last year,” she said.
The School Advisory Board has also developed a committee to reach out to the hundreds of thousands of alumni that have graduated from the old Bayonne Catholic elementary schools over many years, with the aim of seeking their help in maintaining the new school.
“We are looking to make sure that we can provide a Catholic oriented education for years to come,” she said. “I believe we are in a position to provide that education for the next hundred years.”
Some of the more significant changes from last year to this year involve communication inside and outside the school. This is particularly true with establishing a new Web site.
Sister Wust said the school was aware of how insufficient the old Web site was, but that ordering the proper programs and other factors delayed the school’s ability to design a new site until June. So over the summer, the new site was established, complete with an annual and monthly calendar of events.
Other changes include increasing the number of SMARTBoards in classrooms. Not every classroom has one of these computer-generated blackboards, Sister Wust said. But all of the classes will have projection equipment that will allow teachers to access the Internet.
“These others will just not have all the bells and whistles the SMARTBoards have,” she said.
Some of the changes for this year were planned, such as the introduction of a new religious program, a new integrated language program, and a new math program.
“All of these have online resources for home and teachers in school as reinforcement and enrichment,” Wust said.
A big part of the school’s goals each year is community involvement. Last year, they helped raise money for several good causes. This year, the school will again reach out to the interests of students to see what their aims are.
“We usually listen to student suggestions,” Sister Wust said. “We have to realize that as good shepherds, it is important to share our gifts.”
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.