St. Bartholomew School
AdvancEd Executive Summary
Description of the School
St. Bartholomew School is a coeducational Catholic parish school for students in Pre-Kindergarten to eight. Our daily school hours are 7:30 a.m. until 1:45 p.m. Located in East Brunswick, NJ, the school was established in 1964 under the guidance of Monsignor J. Morgan Kelly. The Sisters, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, administered our school from its inception until 1996. Monsignor Michael J. Alliegro served as the second pastor. Currently, the school is operated under the administration of the Very Reverend Thomas Walsh, Pastor, and Mrs. Ann Wierzbicki, Principal. St. Bartholomew School serves youth from Middlesex and Somerset Counties, and is staffed by clergy and laity.
The enrollment is currently 347 students. St. Bartholomew School admits students of all races, ethnicities, and religions. Of the 347 students, 50 are Asian, 19 are African-American, 194 are Caucasian, 59 are Hispanic, 1 is Native American, and 24 are multi-racial. Eighty-two percent of students are Roman Catholic. Enrollment in the 2013-2014 school year increased by 130 students, in part, due to the closing of a nearby Catholic school. Fifty-three students were enrolled from this school. Administration and Marketing Committee continue to work together to maintain and increase enrollment.
Our teachers, striving to teach as Jesus did, are dedicated to the spiritual, moral, academic, and physical development of each child. Each child is valued as a child of God, and is encouraged to develop a positive image of himself and others as they begin to live the Gospel message. Furthermore, our school is a place where students, faculty, and staff grow in the awareness that they are an important part of God’s family, and that as members of God’s family, they will be called upon to responsibly meet the challenges and needs of the world they live in. Here, within the context of a loving Christian environment, in which Christian principles can freely be woven into all areas of the curriculum, and where our school community can worship God daily through prayer, service, and liturgy, the students and faculty grow closer to God and to the plan that He has for each of them.
As members of Jesus’ Church, we are familiar with his command to “love our neighbor as ourselves,” and that our neighbor is anyone in need. In response to Jesus’ command to love, our students reach out to those in local and global communities. They respond to the call to share God’s unconditional love for them with those less fortunate by donating time, treasure, and talent. These works of mercy further help raise the students’ awareness of worldwide issues of peach and justice, involving the needs of others that go beyond their physical needs. In these ways, our students, faculty, and staff keep God’s love alive in their lives and in the lives of others.
Our St. Bartholomew School Family is a partnership of the Pastor, students, faculty, staff, parents/guardians, priests, deacons, Parish, Home School Association (HSA) members, School Advisory Council (SAC), and volunteer parents/guardians who are dedicated to the school and to upholding its ideals and principles. All members of this partnership are indispensable to the academic life of our school community.
Our academic purpose is to love, educate, and inspire our students to live the teachings of Jesus Christ as they become knowledgeable, aware young adults who can make valuable contributions and a moral difference to the world in which they live. Accordingly, St. Bartholomew School provides our students with a rich academic environment consistent with current educational best practices. We provide an integrated curriculum, activity-based learning, and an emphasis on higher-level thinking skills. In order to accommodate the needs of all students, Compensatory Education classes and Supplemental Services are provided by the Middlesex Regional Educational Services Commission for those who need the benefit of remediation. Within the classroom, provision is made for differentiated instruction. By presenting such a comprehensive, diversified academic program, the uniqueness of our students’ talents and needs is met so they can develop their skills to their full potential, while acquiring a genuine love and respect for learning. St. Bartholomew School is currently planning for an anniversary celebration commemorating 50 years of academic excellence.
The mission of St. Bartholomew School is to love, educate, and inspire our children to live the teachings of Jesus Christ. Our mission statement drives everything we do so that we develop lifelong learners who are strong citizens with a strong Catholic identity. We affirm our mission statement daily in the way we love, educate, and inspire our students and model love of God and others. We are committed to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Our vision states that we seek to nurture the whole child socially, academically, spiritually, intellectually, and morally whereby students will construct knowledge in the context of doctrinally-sound faith. Each student will reach his full potential as a person created in God’s image. Our students will graduate to become responsible, productive citizens with strong critical thinking and excellent academic skills who promote a spirit of charity, social justice, and love of God and others. An overarching theme of academic optimism, equity, and excellence will prevail. To accomplish these goals, students experience a rigorous, relevant, comprehensive, standards-based curriculum delivered in partnership with family, community, and a competent staff in a safe, nurturing environment. Best practice instruction that is outcome-based is provided to challenge students to become purposeful, critical thinkers and productive group participants who will meet the challenges of the 21st century by applying and synthesizing knowledge.
While the Catholic Church teaches that parents serve as the primary educators of their children in the truths of the Church, St. Bartholomew School actively assists parents in their ministry. Each student, made in the image and likeness of God, is unique. We are a community of diverse learners, so we share a commitment to implementing our vision and goals for educating the whole child. Our goals for teaching and learning include rigorous expectations for all students in an environment that transmits our faith and Catholic identity. Our students experience unconditional love and acceptance so that they may understand God’s grace. In the words of Pope Francis, we must have “a heart without limits, but not just a heart: also a certain gaze, the sweetness of Jesus’ gaze, which often is more eloquent than many words.” At St. Bartholomew School, we are dedicated to minister in this way to the students in our care.
We have embarked this past year on a program of professional learning as technology has become an essential and integral part of the teaching and learning at St. Bartholomew School. We have ensured that our teachers have received professional development from both an IT person, hired this past year, and from the Hitachi Company, from whom we purchased digital whiteboards. Furthermore, our IT person provides ongoing professional development to teachers and staff in order to support 21st century learning. Administration has made a commitment to assure that each student and educator has access to state-of-the-art technology and to learning technical skills to empower students’ learning. A Three Year Technology Plan was written this past year that includes a progression of purchasing technology, professional development, and teaching applications that allow students and educators to become life- long, engaged learners.
This past year, our curriculum has been enhanced further with the addition of a librarian who was the former head of Youth Services at the East Brunswick Public Library. The librarian has served on numerous committees including Caldecott Honors. Our library was reorganized, additional books have been purchased, and a computerized system for book tracking and asset management software is in the process of being purchased for use by the librarian in order to further improve the library.
Our curriculum has been enhanced through the integration of technology throughout the curriculum. The technology has also been used to Skype with students in Ecuador and a solider in Afghanistan in order for students to learn via primary resources. This past school year, Phase 1 of the Technology Plan was implemented. This included the purchase of the following: installation and configuration of new server infrastructure and system virtualization, new computer systems for the principal and secretary, removal of antiquated, non-functioning legacy computers and peripherals, technology life extension (parts upgrades), installation of 14 upgraded computers and 17 new computers, reconfiguration of the school networking and installation of wireless access for the Parish Hall and Pre-K building, redeployment of technology into the classrooms, reconfiguration of 5 Smart Boards to be universal with all tablets and laptops, installation of new eco-friendly Ricoh Multi-Function Printer/Copier, deployment of 3 new tablet computers for teachers, room enhancements and establishment of Technology Resource Center, purchase of 14 new computer desks and 28 chairs, 5 digital whiteboards and document cameras, and purchase of Moby Max curriculum. Moby Max curriculum has been purchased so that students may continue to progress and fill in gaps so that all students may achieve mastery of skills. A graduate of our school also raised money for the purchase and installation of 2 TV monitors so that continuous videos which highlight school activities could play. This was done for her Girl Scout Gold Award. Future enhancements for this year include the purchase of digital whiteboards for the remaining classrooms (9), digital whiteboard and digital microscope for Science Center, student software for computers, resurfacing chalkboards to whiteboards, 12 i-Pads, and 8 teacher tablets. Teachers will also receive professional development so that teachers may continue to develop lessons that are interdisciplinary, collaborative, active, and student-centered. A search for a part-time technology teacher is in the process. With the addition of the technology teacher, students’ experiences will reach beyond Microsoft Word applications to the ability to utilize educational apps, create instructional videos, utilize power point and create movies, and learn keyboarding skills, among others. Technology is carefully purchased to align with our vision and goals.
Administration works closely with School Advisory Council and IT in order to ensure that funds are allocated wisely so that St. Bartholomew School operates fully as a 21st century school. Feedback from teachers is considered before purchasing. Equipment and technology acquisition is monitored for maintenance and appropriate use.
Our curriculum is aligned with Diocesan and Common Core State Standards. The focus of the curriculum goes beyond a skills-based approach to a process that embraces problem-solving, critical thinking, higher-order thinking, and deep learning. Teachers facilitate students in understanding, interpreting, and applying knowledge so that understanding can be transferred to other areas. Teachers have begun to collaborate to create unit plans that integrate technology, contain essential questions, various formative and summative assessments, higher-order thinking and critical thinking components, closure
activities, and Catholic identity. Teachers are implementing Best Practice whereby the learning is set up to be more student-centered, collaborative, and interactive. Best Practice involves teachers adding a widening repertoire of choices to allow students to move among a richer array of activities in order to promote collaboration, actively involve students, balance teacher and student-directed activities, deepen learning, balance traditional and interactive activities, and utilize assessments and work to inform teachers, students, and parents. Students maintain portfolios and samples are provided to the upcoming teacher along with reading lexile scores.
This past year, a new Math Program with manipulatives and a technology component was purchased and implemented. Teachers received a full day of professional learning on the Go Math Program and also received training via webinars. Teachers also attended a full day workshop about implementing Common Core. This year, students in Grades 5 and 6 will receive a new ELA program that allows for implementation of best practice and a more integrative approach. Also, the Zaner-Bloser Handwriting System is being purchased, as there are both biological and psychological reasons for teaching handwriting. Columbia Teachers’ College Units of Study Writing for Writing Workshop has been purchased and teachers will receive professional development to implement Reading and Writing Workshop more effectively.
Administration is committed to the continuous professional learning of the faculty. Professional Book Clubs are being implemented and Title money has been used to purchase books for this purpose including Best Practice by Zemelman, Daniels, and Hyde, The Art and Science of Teaching and Handbook for the Art and Science of Teaching by Marzano. Teachers are fully committed to and take ownership of their professional learning. Professional Learning Communities have also been established whereby teachers engage in reflective practice in order to improve curriculum and instruction. We ensure that school-wide practices and programs focus on a rigorous curriculum and delivery of standards-based instruction. Peer mentoring among teachers has also begun so that master teachers may assist newer teachers in order to embrace academic equity and excellence. Administration builds a professional culture by developing a shared understanding and commitment to high standards for all students. Teachers and administration have begun to participate in collaborative data analysis by collecting and analyzing test and assessment data in order to make decisions for differentiated instruction, adjustments to curriculum and instruction, and to design assessments that monitor and inform learning.
Administration monitors instructional practices and student progress to assure that all students are prepared for and have access to a challenging curriculum. Administration also conducts frequent classroom visits and walkthrough observations to provide constructive and meaningful feedback to faculty and staff that improves practice and student learning.
This past year, a guidance counselor was added to the staff in order to provide students and staff with extra support. A student mentoring program, CHOICES, was established whereby students in Grades 6, 7, and 8 served as positive examples for younger students. The Good God Choices curriculum was implemented and student mentors played a significant role. Mentors helped to build community among students, participated in instruction about bullying, and worked on several service projects in accordance with Catholic Social Teaching. Service projects included Operation Rice Bowl, Souper Bowl,
collecting socks for Catholic Charities, purchasing Christmas gifts for Catholic Charities, food collection for St. Vincent DePaul Society, Pink Walk, Relay for Life, and other individual classroom projects. For the first time, eighth grade students participated in a spiritual retreat. A culminating community-building project spearheaded by the student mentors was the painting of the St. Bartholomew School Family Tree in the cafeteria. Faculty also participated in a Spirituality Day, Catholic Faith Formation by Pastor and Diocese, and a retreat at Stella Maris Retreat Center.
Faculty, staff, stakeholders, and students participated in Child Assault Prevention program this year after a grant was applied for and received. For the upcoming year, a grant for an anti-bullying program has been applied for. As a part of the Holocaust Curriculum required in NJ, eighth grade students, faculty, and staff participated in a trip to the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. with other students from the community. The trip was funded by the Daniel Pearl Center/East Brunswick Jewish Center. This year, eighth grade students also participated in a Town Hall Meeting with Governor Christie.
The formation of our students is further enhanced by our Fine Arts Program and co-curricular activities. Students participate in weekly Art, Physical Education, and Music classes that remain a strong component of the curriculum. This year, students created a wall mural called God’s Garden that was created from all recyclable materials. Students in Grades 3 through 8 may participate in Chorus, Grades 4 through 8 in Band and instrumental lessons, and Grades 6 through 8 in Drama. All students perform in a Christmas Extravaganza and Band and Chorus participate in a Winter and Spring Concert. Band and Chorus also perform at Lincoln Center in NYC and a Musical Festival. Chorus performs at the local Mall before Christmas. Students in Grades 6 through 8 may participate in Cross Country and Grades 1-8 in Basketball. Teachers also offer remedial and enrichment classes after school. Mad Science, an extracurricular Science Program, is also offered. Newspaper and Yearbook Club are involved in the publication and writing of quarterly newspapers and an annual yearbook and supplement. This upcoming year, students who meet eligibility requirements will be able to become a member of the National Junior Honor Society. Plans are beginning to add further enrichment programs including Technology Club and a Summer Program. The spirit of volunteerism of our faculty, parents/guardians, and coaches serves as a model of generosity and the gifts of time, treasure, and talent to the school community.
Administration also ensures that a safe environment exists by proactively involving stakeholders to address the physical and emotional safety and security of students and staff. The Safety and Security Plan was rewritten this past year after consultation with Police, Fire, and Emergency Management Personnel from the Township. Ongoing review of the plan is conducted. Key emergency support personnel have come to the school and have monitored lockdown and shelter-in-place drills. Police and the Emergency Management Coordinator provided an in-service to faculty and staff about safety protocols and procedures. Police also evaluated the school and offered advice as to how to update the current security. Police officers have been hired for weekly Mass to ensure student and faculty safety. A closed-circuit television system and locked entries/fobs ensure that only appropriate personnel may enter the school. Plans are underway for police to further evaluate the facility so that a safe and secure environment exists. A school dress code exists and is enforced. The Parent/Guardian/Student
Handbook was also rewritten this past year and a Code of Conduct was established. The Handbook is being reassessed and adjusted as needed on an ongoing basis.
Our school nurse is a full time RN who provides instruction to the staff on OSHA requirements, blood- borne pathogens, and Epi-pen administration. She also monitors immunization requirements and health records and administers to the health and safety needs of the students and staff. Plans are being made for all faculty to become CPR certified.
The physical plant has been evaluated to ensure management of the organization, operation, and resources for a safe, efficient, and effective learning environment. The Parish Capital Campaign was conducted by the Pastor, and short and long-range plans were developed. This past year, the following improvements were completed: new roof in the Church, Parish Hall (cafeteria), and Kindergarten wing of the school, new HVAC system, installation of fireproof stage curtains, new tables and chairs in the cafeteria, new desks and chairs for students, additional lockers for middle school students, state-of-the- art Technology Resource Center, new technology as per Phase 1 of Technology Plan, new playground with asceptic rubber mulch to ensure safety, TV monitors to promote school activities, new sound system, addition of storage closets. This year, the Kelly Gym will receive a new roof, floor, and bleachers, Phase 2 of the Technology Plan will be implemented, the Library will be upgraded to include technology, the Science Center will be updated with a digital whiteboard, computer, and digital microscope, the cafeteria will be painted, new safety measures such as installing intercoms for the Gym and playground will occur, and new books will be purchased. Units of Study, Columbia Teachers College Reading Writing Workshop models, have been purchased and the teachers will receive professional development to implement.
Collaboration by administration with key stakeholders is also invaluable to promoting the success of every student at St. Bartholomew School. Monthly School Advisory Council (SAC) and Home School Association (HAS) meetings take place to ensure that key stakeholders are engaged in a proactive way. The SAC is an advisory council that consists of professionals and parent representatives and includes the following committees: Curriculum, Marketing, Finance, Facilities, and Endowment. This year, an endowment fund, The Ave Maria Endowment Fund, has been established to ensure the future of the school so we may continue to love, educate, and inspire our children to live the teachings of Jesus Christ as we have done for the last 50 years. A variety of programs that develop positive family and stakeholder partnerships are established to build community and celebrate school and student successes. Effective public information strategies to communicate with families and the community have been implemented including e-mail, websites, Facebook, Honeywell Instant Alert System, weekly Communication Envelopes and newsletters, Teacher Web, TV monitors, Back-to-School Night, Parent/Guardian/Teacher Conferences, and night meetings for programs such as Study Skills and CAP. Administration also collaborates with community agencies to ensure equitable and open access for students to all venues that are required and legally permissible including services for IDEA, Chapter 192 and 193 services, Title money, textbooks, nursing, technology, professional development, and busing.
Jesus, the Master Teacher, is the reason for our school. Our Catholic identity defines our professional culture. We embrace the charism of our founders so that the Catholic spirit epitomizes our Catholic
school. After 50 years of excellence, it is with grateful hearts and God’s grace that we continuously affirm our Catholic heritage throughout every aspect of our daily lives. Our administration, faculty, and staff serve as models for living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our every action is directed toward establishing and sustaining a school whereby we know, love, and serve Christ through our daily community prayer, our rituals, prayer services, and weekly Mass attendance. We are continuously reminded of the presence of Christ in our classrooms, cafeteria, faculty meetings, Gym, and at every event we attend. Indeed it is our Catholicism that best enables us to live our mission, achieve our vision, and express our Catholic faith: a faith we embrace through our prayer, curriculum, code of conduct, social events, dress code, athletics, co-curricular activities, and service projects that reflect Catholic Social Teachings. In the words of Pope Francis, we are a school that “embodies the virtues of compassion, tenderness, patience, and welcoming” to students of all races, ethnicities, and religions so that everyone in our community experiences “unconditional love and acceptance” in order to understand the gift of God’s grace.
In order to foster and embrace our Catholic identity, we nurture our faith development by way of our weekly attendance at Mass that is hosted by our students. Spiritual retreats are attended by our faculty and students. Our Catholicity is further present through our Good God Choices and Family Life programs. Religion is integrated throughout our entire curriculum. Spiritual enrichment programs include our Student Mentoring Program, attendance at Diocesan Respect Life event, special prayer services, and blessings. Catholic Social Teaching Club is in the process of being established. Our beautiful Church and Prayer Garden offer places where staff and students can rest and reflect in prayer. On First Fridays, faculty and students have access to Church where they can experience the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and find tranquility and the true and lasting peace that comes from Christ. Teachers gather for community prayer before each day begins and then the entire school community prays together before we begin each day. Eighth grade students lead the daily communal prayer where we also pray for members of our community who are sick. We announce birthdays and other special events unique to our school or parish. Various forms of prayer are used and traditional Catholic prayers are also recited as well as reflections. Our Pastor reminds us that we should always carry a rosary and teaches us about our Catholic faith, rituals, and traditions. Our Pastor also formally teaches eighth grade Religion. Students attend the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Students lead us in special prayer services, such as Blessing of the Roses on the Feast of St. Therese, and weekly liturgical celebrations. Special liturgical celebrations include Buddy Mass on the Feast of Guardian Angels, Christmas Mass, Family Day Mass, and Baccalaureate Mass. The bond we share through prayer and liturgy enhances the Catholic identity of our school. Our Christian spirit is not limited to these moments. Rather, these group gatherings serve to reaffirm who we are as a Catholic people. We reflect with enthusiasm these values in the culture of our school community, and this is what makes us unique. Our mission and vision of academic excellence and equity is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus as a natural progression of our Catholic identity. Our Catholic mission is lived every day so that we may know, love, and serve God more fully.
It is with a grateful heart that we serve the students of St. Bartholomew School as we continue to teach love of God and others. Many have been nurtured in faith, hope, and love for the last 50 years and we
now are working to pass the gift of St. Bartholomew School on as we serve as stewards for these gifts. The future of the Catholic Church is seen in the eyes of our students and in the spirit of Christ that fills their hearts. Our Church needs the energy and joy that these students embody. May our school continue to be a place of love, welcoming, and compassion where the love of Christ is experienced and nurtured so that all students may be fully educated: mind, body, and spirit.
Notable Achievements and Areas of Improvement
Some of the notable achievements in the last 3 years include:
- Payment of debt
- Redesign of the school cafeteria with new tables, chairs, storage closets, blinds, stage curtains,
and dimmer switch for stage lights
- Addition of a new sound system
- Science Center improvements
- Establishment of state-of-the-art Technology Resource Center with the addition of new server
infrastructure and system virtualization, installation of new computers and laptops for principal and secretary, installation of eco-friendly Ricoh multi-function copier and printer, installation of 14 upgraded and 17 new computers, reconfiguration of school networking and installation of wireless access for the cafeteria and Pre-K building, redeployment of technology into classrooms, reconfiguration of 5 Smart Boards to be universal with all tablets and laptops, deployment of 3 new tablet computers for teachers, room enhancements to Technology Resource Center, 14 new computer desks and 28 chairs, 5 digital whiteboards, Moby Max curriculum
- Updated intercom and bell system
- New roof over Church, Parish Hall (cafeteria), and Kindergarten wing
- New HVAC system
- New playground with rubber mulch
- Establishment of the Ave Maria Endowment Fund
- Rewriting Strategic Plan
- Increased enrollment by 130 students
- Establishment of National Junior Honor Society
- Intensive professional development for faculty
- PLCs established
- Professional Book Clubs for faculty established
- Students attending various competitions
- Increased service to community and number of service projects
- CAP program/grant acquired
- Participating in ACRE assessments
- Increased scholarships for students attending Catholic high schools
- Establishment of Honor Roll and Principal’s List
- Updated library and library system
- IT person hired
- Increased number of teachers
- Identification of classrooms externally
- Increased Pre-K 3 hours and enrollment
- Establishing dedicated phone line for emergencies
- Addition of Guidance Counselor to staff
- Implemented Good God Choices and Family Life
- Updated Safety and Security Plan and evaluations
- Hired police officer for Friday Mass
- New Math program
- Updated ELA program
Areas for improvement over the next 3 years:
- Hire technology teacher
- Continued progression of Technology Plan
- Gym renovations
- Safety and security improvements
- Update library
- Students will develop 21st century skills through implementing best practice and interdisciplinary
- Advanced Math offerings
- Continued evaluation and mapping of curriculum