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Welcome to the new school year 2012-13!
We begin this new academic year with 482 students and the great blessing of welcoming new students in each grade from PK to 11th grade. We extend a warm welcome to all the new families and especially all those coming from abroad, from countries such as: Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the United States.
Our academic and administrative team has also grown to consist of 64 professionals dedicated to pursuing our school's mission of educating our students "to think with clarity, act with integrity and love with generosity". Among the new additions, I would like to mention Adriana Callejas, the new counselor for secondary school and Ana Patricia Ferrey in her new role as College Counselor. We also welcome 9 new teachers: Kathy Reilly, Anna Graham, Johanna Hueck, Thomas Stargardter, Phyllis Lopez, Jose Martín Casco, Ma. José Lopez, Malula Gonzalez and Sandra Cuadra.
We have many exciting plans for this academic year; for the sake of space I will list them briefly in this letter and will send you more information on them as the year progresses:
1) Professional development on differentiated instruction and assessment: we already participated in a special workshop delivered by three US. educators, Dr. Rose Rudnitski. Dr. Bernadette Casey and Dr. Fahmi Abboushi , all from Felician College, a Catholic, Franciscan college in New Jersey. Dr. Rudnitski has a PhD from Columbia University and is the Dean of the Division of Teacher Education at Felician; Dr. Bernadette Casey is an assistant professor of Education at the same college. Dr. Abboushi earned his PhD from the University of Dayton (Ohio) in Educational Leadership. They will be working with us all year and we are looking forward to establishing a long term working relationship with their institution.
2) Advisory Board: we have expanded the membership in our Advisory Board and will begin to work with the new Board in order produce short, medium and long term educational and financial plans. The new Advisory Board members are: Regina Marcela Briceño (BA from Harvard University, MBA Georgetown University) and Dr. Carlos Sevilla (PhD. Stanford University, Dean of Academics at Ave Maria University). Our school is indeed privileged to have professionals of the highest caliber working on its behalf. We are deeply grateful for their generosity.
3) Technology: We have bought an Ipad Learning Lab with 20 Ipads that will be used in Elementary for computer classes and other learning activities. We have also begun a BYOT (Bring your own technology) Program for our juniors and seniors. We have improved our wi-fi coverage so that they can use tablets in school and during classes. We have updated all the computers in our computer lab. With this change, 100 % of our computers have the latest software by Microsoft as we have completed the process of our Microsoft Campus Agreement.
4) School Facilities: we are ready to begin the construction process for a new high school building that will include classrooms and offices for the high school staff. Construction should begin in December and the building should be ready by the beginning of the next academic year.
5) Curriculum and Electives: in secondary we have introduced a fourth language offering, French, and expanded our electives to include classes such as Journalism and Advanced Writing in the Digital Age. We have a new science program for grades 2-8. All students in these grades will have their books online in addition to their physical textbook and/or workbook.
6) New school organization: as a result of our accreditation, our school is now able to open its own chapter of the National Honor Society. This is a well known and respected organization that recognizes and promotes the values of scholarship and service amongst students. We are excited to be able to offer this new opportunity to our students. We are grateful to Ms. Elisa Chamorro for accepting to be the Faculty Advisor of our first National Honor Society group.
7) Website: we have already launched a new website that is more up-to-date and user friendly. We will work all year long to make sure that our website becomes a great tool to communicate with the whole school community and beyond. Please make sure you visit our new website (www.csa.edu.ni). We will appreciate any feedback.
8) Campus Ministry: we continue to offer 10 masses during the week to give our students the opportunity to make the Eucharist an integral part of their lives. We have become members of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA). NCEA is the association that promotes the values of Catholic education in the United States and around the world. This new membership will help us to gather new ideas to promote spiritual growth amongst our students.
I would like to end my welcome letter by quoting the NEASC Accreditation Report because I believe it highlights an aspect of our school that should be the cornerstone of our school spirit: "This school, however, is more than an educational institution; it is a place where mutual respect and service to others are core values as evidenced in the actions of each member of the school community". This school wide spirit of respect and service is what allows St. Augustine Preparatory School to offer our students what the NEASC report calls "a unique educational experience".
May God bless all our common endeavors in favor of our students!
Mr. Oyanguren holds a B.A in Philosophy from Georgetown University and a Master´s in Religious Studies from Yale Divinity School, Yale University. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.