St. James Middle School combines innovation with tradition

Story and Photos by George Clancy
St. James Principal

JOHNSON CITY — As spring arrives, students and faculty at St. James Middle School begin to look forward to green grass, sunshine and the many academic adventures that will be a part of the calendar between now and the middle of the summer.

St. James, like other schools in the diocese, is measured through a variety of criteria, including input from students, teachers, administrators and, most importantly‚ parents and families.

The teachers seek to inspire, challenge and guide students to exceed the academic standards set forth by New York State.

The dedicated faculty and staff at St. James work as a learning community to provide a truly well-rounded educational, cultural, social and religious experience.

In doing so, the school works directly and often with its pastor, Father John Donovan, and its parochial vicar Father Ralph Bove, along with Sister Anne Horrigan CSJ, the school’s librarian. The staff is continually upgrading its curricula, with a focus on sustainability and “cutting edge” thought, while never forgetting the important traditional values of parents and grandparents. In addition, religious culture remains at the heart of the educational program.

Like other schools, St. James is becoming more efficient while seeking to improve student performance since parents send their children to Catholic schools for a variety of reasons, especially the value-added cultural and religious experiences. St. James’ goal is to insure that a quality Catholic education remains an option for current and future generations.

\Without question it is easier to cut programs than it is to grow enrollment. Many believe that, “If God could send his Son to die for us and raise him from the dead so that we all could live, then he can also help us find supportive families and benefactors that will help us to keep our schools alive.”

St. James School concentrates on lifelong learning, people skills, enrollment management, learner-centered environment as well as instructional innovation and family retention. This is the business of education, which requires a strategic plan and the support of the faith community of the diocese.

Sharing the attitude of a caring and supportive environment is a must. The school’s theme of “Family & Faith — Nurturing Academic Excellence“ is manifested in just about every aspect of the school.

Innovative strategies mix with personal responsibility, academic challenges and fun.
Positive, optimistic and enthusiastic teachers bring creativity to the classroom and to the kids, while they target intended learning objectives and outcomes.

New teachers have joined a dedicated faculty that promotes Catholic identity and maintains instructional expertise. “We are running on all cylinders,” Principal George Clancy said as he compared the SJMS to a well-tuned turbo airplane.

Leadership skills, parental contact, professionalism, student engagement, new technology, classroom organization, individualized instruction and a positive atmosphere, together with love for learning and fun, make SJMS a warm and special place for children and teachers.

There are consequences to poor behavior and lackluster performance. Homework is a daily practice, as Clancy stresses to students, “We are getting you ready to go to college.”

Parents do more and are more involved in the life of their children, even when the going gets tough. Grandparents also play a significant part in helping with transportation and sometimes creating scholarship funding.

Catholic schools offer something special to believe in. As history has proven, “Catholic education is an important national treasure.”

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