Learning Leads to Independence
Our students come to Saint Catherine Academy to learn, to belong, to be recognized. We meet each student where he or she is, helping them to develop their interpersonal and academic skills, and take advantage of vocational experiences—all of which builds life skills needed for greater independence.
Bright sunflowers and smiling faces helped to transform the gym into a sanctuary at Saint Catherine Center as more than 125 students and their families, faculty, staff, and friends gathered together on September 22 to celebrate 20 years of service to young people with disabilities.
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano was the principal celebrant, along with concelebrants Msgr. Robert Weiss, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown and Center board member, and Msgr. William Scheyd.
“How blessed are we that for 20 years we have St. Catherine’s Academy and those who lead it, who see the world differently,” Bishop Caggiano said. “Everyone who comes here is here because they are beloved, first by God and then by His servants who are you and me.”
Readers included Charles Chiusano, Chairman of the Center’s Board; Anna Stowe, an Academy student; and Eric Spencer, Director of Education. Erin Aoyama led the congregation in song. The beautiful sunflowers were donated by Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens. A reception followed the service.
The bishop expressed appreciation to the Saint Catherine Center Board. “To have a vision is one thing. To make it real is another,” he said. He also recognized Helen Burland, Executive Director, for being the “animator of this entire enterprise,” and thanked the young people of the Center. “You keep our vision clear,” he said.
With freshly painted halls, clean classrooms, and even a new picnic table in the playground, we welcomed students to a new school year at Saint Catherine Academy. View some photos of the first days of school.
“I like seeing my friends again. I like that we’ll be doing reading and writing and science—but not math!” said Anna Stowe from Sr. Cheryl’s class.
We welcomed two new students—Vincent from Rye, NY, and Antonio from Bridgeport, CT.
Patty Loh (pictured at right with her colleagues, Sr. Cheryl Driscoll and Joanne LaPorta) joined the teaching staff. Patty is a certified special education professional with 23 years of experience in special education. She has been associated with the Academy as a substitute teacher and volunteer at our vocational worksites. Patty also has advanced training in the Wilson Reading System, an intensive structured literacy program, and experience in TouchMath, both of which she intends to use in the classroom. “Setting concrete goals is important, so that each student can feel good about what they achieve. I want them to feel a positive atmosphere so that they can grow and thrive,” she said.
At the opening Convocation held for all Diocesan teachers and administrators before the first day of school, keynote speaker Dr. Tom Thibodeau inspired our teaching staff with his talk on “The Positive Power of Servant Leadership,” encouraging all to express gratitude and appreciation to their students and colleagues frequently, and to find and share the goodness of each day.
“It’s been a wonderful year, and we will be building on our positive experiences,” said Eric Spencer, Director of Education. “We’re looking to enhance our social studies and science curriculum and create more life skills opportunities for our students. We’ll also be creating a monthly newsletter in order to enhance communications with parents and the Saint Catherine Academy community.”