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St. John the Baptist
Catholic School
12319 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20904 | 301-622-3076

Principal's Back to School Remarks 2017

Father David and Father Tony, Teachers, Friends, Parents:

I want to begin by saying "thank you" to each of you for sending your children to St. John the Baptist Catholic School, for entrusting us as your partners in their intellectual, social and spiritual formation. We take this mission seriously and recognize the responsibility on us to provide moral guidance and to lead by example --To preach the gospel every day... and to use words when necessary, as St. Francis of Assisi said. 

We are grateful for your trust, and we ask for your continued trust. Trust in our stewardshipand in our motives. We care deeply about your children. We are committed, first, to their safety. We feel genuine pride and happiness in their successes. We know that we set a high bar for your children. It is the reason why we cheer so sincerely for their growth. 

 We spend many hours searching for the best ways to motivate your children, transfer knowledge to them, and allow them to show what they know and what they can do.  Our partnership with you is based on honesty and communication, but our instructional and assessment strategies with them are based on data and evidence. 

We understand that there are many demands on you as parents. We ask ourselves constantly how we can become better at what we do, and we've concluded that we could be more responsive to your needs.  

This year, we will do some things in new ways in response to your needs as parents.

They are not necessarily easier for us. Our teachers are willing to do these things because they want to help you – because helping you means helping your children. 

For the first time, we've scheduled nighttime and daytime parent-teacher conferencesParent conferences will start on the night of Nov. 9 and continue on the morning of Nov. 10. We think that, with this optionwe give each parent the best chance to attend this important conference with the teacher. 

We have also scheduled a series of parent-teacher meetings to allow for a deeper dialogue about our curriculum, strategies and goals.

This Parent Series will start on Sept. 20 with a meeting that will be all about math.

From 6 to 7 pm, parents will meet with math teachers in Kindergarten through 4th grade.  From 7 to 8 pm, the math discussion will continuebut with the middle-school teachers and a focus on math in grades 5 through 8.  

We will follow the format for a meeting on language arts on Oct. 25   K-4 teachers and parents for the first hour, grades 5-8 teachers and parents for the second hour. 

On other nights, we will hold Parent Series meetings on the following programs: 

  • Our English Language Learners Program 

  • Our technology program 

  • Our resource and enrichment program 

  •  The high school application process, for 8th grade parents. 

We hope to get a couple of things out of these meetings. First, we want to fulfill your need to be able to ask questions, raise concerns, seek clarification of what is happening in the classroom, and understand the overall aim of our curriculum. 

The teachers and I understand that these meetings will be more parent-driven than teacher-driven. Our aim is to listen to your concerns, respond to questions, and to do our best to clear up any misconceptions and explain what is going on in the classrooms every day.

We are doing this because we are partners and because we trust you and your motives.

We know that you want only what is best for your children, and we believe these meetings will be productive toward that end. The meetings will take place in the library. The dates are on the online calendar.  

We will continue to listen to your needs, and we will continue to respond and adjust as we hear them. I am telling you that we are unconstrained by a tradition of doing things a certain way, but our ambitions are always balanced against our commitment to maintaining an affordable tuition rate. 

My request of you as parent-partneris that you continue to show respect for our teachers as professionals. This includes scheduling conferences to discuss your children. Teachers should not have unscheduled parent conferences before class, after class or during lunch. It's against our policy. If you need to talk, I ask that you send the teacher an email asking for some time over the phone or in person. Our teachers know that they are expected to respond within 24 hours. If for some reason you don't receive a response in 24 hoursplease send another email and copy me on it. Usually there's an explanation for a delayed teacher response. If you send an email on Friday nightplease be patient. You should get your response on MondayWe are all doing our best to balance work and family. 

We feel good about our school year, and we feel good about our future as a Catholic school. Our K-8 enrollment is up, and we have 15 students enrolled in the new preschool. Last spring, our end-of-year Scantron results showed that our students in each grade surpassed the math scores and reading scores of their national Blue Ribbon counterparts.  

To hit the Blue Ribbon marks in each subject on each grade level --- that is an impressive accomplishment.  

Still, we continue to look at ourselves and ask how we can be better at what we do? We believe that we can improve in our day-to-day formative assessments In other words, we're getting better at our methods of determining that students understood what we just taught them. We're striving to improve alternative assessments, too, so that we can better measure what students can do, in addition to measuring what they know. 

We are make a deliberate effort to teach students to be collaborators – and not necessarily for a greater purpose, at least not right away. Collaboration itself iour goaland so we are teaching students how to be better teammates, how to improve in their listening skills, how to get better at eliciting information from othershow to find their voices and speak confidently in safe group settings. 

As always, our mission as a Catholic school is to show our students how to follow Christ. Our theme this year is Come to the Table, and this month we narrow it down to Come to the Table with Encouragement. We believe in our theme. We aim to live by it, by giving positive, supportive encouragement to others. As our partners, you can support us at home by giving your children encouragement in what they are doing in their lives right now, recognizing the progress, the growth, all that they get right.  

Once again, I wish to thank you for coming tonight and supporting us and your children.  

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