Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Welcome Back!

Hello St. Patrick School Families!

My name is Kaci Monaghan and I am excited to be the new principal at St. Patrick School.  I have been the Middle School ELA teacher at St. Patrick School for 5 years, and my family has been a part of the St. Patrick parish for about 7 years. During this time, I have grown to love the St. Patrick community and the family atmosphere you get when you belong to our school.

I graduated from William Jewell College in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education.  In December of 2010, I received my Master of Arts degree in Education Administration from William Woods College.  Prior to coming to St. Patrick School, I taught for 6 years in the Excelsior Springs School District and for 2 years in the Maysville School District.  Throughout this time, I taught multiple grades at the elementary level and Language Arts, Math, and Social Studies at the middle school level.

I grew up in a small town with a huge family and I loved school.  It’s funny, though, because I wasn’t particularly “good” at school.  While my sisters excelled academically, I struggled ..and while they were well-mannered, well-behaved young women…..I struggled.  But no matter how many tests I failed or how many notes home my teacher’s sent, I still loved school.  Why?  Because, when I walked into a classroom, I wasn’t just another student.  I was
David and Opal Lewis’s daughter”.....or “Kerri’s little sister”....or “one of the McNeely kids”.  In my town, people knew me, because they knew my family.  My kindergarten teacher was my neighbor, my first grade teacher was a teacher when my dad was in elementary school.  My grandma and her sisters ran the school cafeteria. In fact, I can still remember days in the school lunchroom when every time we had Fritos, our custodian would come up to me and say, “If you’re not going to eat those Fritos, you should take them home.  Your dad loves Fritos.”  You see, school wasn’t just a building to me.  It was a family. They were people who knew what happened to me over the weekend before I even walked in the door Monday morning, people who accepted me with all of my faults and imperfections and managed not only to find the good that was buried inside of me, but to help me find it too. .  And even though I struggled academically and my behavior was often less than ideal, the people in that building cared about me and genuinely wanted me to succeed….so eventually, I did.

Throughout my teaching career, I have longed to create this same feeling for my students.  From the moment I walked through the doors on my first day at St. Patrick School, I knew this was a special place.  I had the opportunity to not only get to know the students in my classroom, but every single student in the building.  I met brothers and sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.  By the end of the year, I knew the name of every single student in our building, their parents' names, and thanks to car duty, the kinds of cars they drove.  My fellow teachers reached out to offer me support, to listen to me when I had a frustrating day, and to guide me when I needed advice.  Before long, St. Patrick began to feel like home.

I have learned a lot in the 5 years that I have been at St. Patrick, but my biggest lesson came 10 months ago when my older sister passed away..  It was July, only a few weeks before I was to report back to school.  My heart was broken and my spirit crushed.  I didn’t know how I was going to show up to school pretend that everything was fine.  I didn’t know how I could ever find happiness again. But when I walked through these doors in August, and was surrounded by so much love and support, and when my students walked in the door for their first day of school filled with hope and excitement... I instantly began to heal.  That’s what you get when you belong to St. Patrick School.   
Our little school has been through a lot together.  We have suffered hardships, we have bounced back from heartbreak.  We have experienced frustration, pain, loss, and sorrow together.  And together, we have helped each other heal.  

St. Patrick is more than just a school. In the heart of every teacher and every staff member here, you will find genuine love and respect for our students and their families.  You will find staff who go above and beyond to support our students.  You will find teachers who spend countless hours of their own time building creative lessons, tutoring,  and searching to find innovative ways to challenge your child.  You will find teachers who willingly give up plan time to sit with a student in need, who spend their own money to allow your child to participate in hands-on learning opportunities, and who treat your child as if he or she was their own.  You will find teachers who inspire students to be leaders, to build robots, and to work together as a team.  This is what you get when you send your child to St. Patrick school.

This dedication to our students has paid off.  This year, in the middle school alone 97% of our students scored higher on the Iowa Test this year than what they scored last year.  48% of our students scored at or above the 90% in at least one Core Area and 4 of our students scored above the 95% in every single Core area.  Our students are scoring better than 90% of the students in the nation who have taken the same test.  That’s in direct correlation to our small classes, one-on-one attention, students who are taught and expected to work hard, and teachers who are inspiring students to perform to their best abilities.  That is what you get when you send your child to our school.  

As your principal, I am committed to ensuring that each child feels a sense of family when she walks through our doors and that each child knows just how much he is cared for by his teachers.  I am committed to placing teachers in the classrooms who nurture our children, as well as provide them with a challenging and rigorous curriculum.  I am committed to building a community in which our students are not just educated on facts, but educated to become lifelong learners who seek out challenges and search for answers.   I am committed to training our students not only to wonder what they want to be when they grow up but  to start planning what change they’d like to be in the world.  I am committed to inspiring our students to be kind hearted, respectful, faithful followers of Christ who treat themselves and those around them with dignity and grace.  And I am committed to working with this parish to support the entire St. Patrick community.

We have faced challenges this year and in years past, but those challenges don’t define who we are. No challenge is so great that should outweigh the fact that our students' academic and personal successes are what’s important.  This school family, the teachers who work tirelessly to provide an outstanding education for our kids, the students who sit in our classrooms working hard each day...They are what’s important .  I stand by my commitments to this school and assure you there will be no one working harder than me to ensure our students are getting a well-rounded, Catholic  education and that their individual needs are being met.   I am excited about the future of St. Patrick School and the new opportunities we are planning for the years ahead.  I bring with me a feeling of hope and positivity. Positive changes are being made in our school.  We have listened to our parents, we have evaluated our students’ needs, and we are constantly adding things to give our students opportunities they wouldn’t get elsewhere.

I would like to thank Fr. Robert, the school board, and the school community for entrusting me with this position.  I am humbled by the outpouring of love and support you have given to me, as well as the hope for the future that you have placed in my hands.  I ask you pray God will guide me to make good decisions for our students and that we are able to give our students that same sense of security, safety, and family that I treasured so much as a child.  

This year, I want to focus on changing the attitude in our building. I want to challenge our staff, students, and families to focus on the good in our school....because there is so much good going on in our building! I want to change the way we talk about our school and the way we think about our school ,and that starts with each one of us. I encourage you to ask your child to talk about the great things that happen at school each day and to help him/her navigate through the challenges in a positive way. Together, we can bring hope and positivity back to our school.

I am excited to start this school year, and I am grateful, humbled, and motivated to be your new principal.

Ms. Monaghan's Message

Summer Edition #2