A young student’s eyes shift across the page, and a hint of excitement starts to appear on his face as he begins to realize he has the ability to read.
That small, successful moment is one of the many motivations for Kim Marsaglia, the new principal at St. Patrick Catholic School, who decided to return to education after becoming a registered nurse.
“I was doing a lot of health education at that point and I realized how much I missed being in the classroom with the students and actually feeling like I was changing someone’s life,” Marsaglia says.
Marsaglia also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University in the reading and literacy graduate program, and she has worked in the New Berlin school district as a language arts instructor and interventionist.
In her new role, she says she plans to focus on literacy and math, adding programs like Saxon Math and Shirley English to the curriculum. The school will also add additional online academic assessments, for students to check their progress in the course throughout the year. Those reports will be sent home to the students’ parents or guardians.
St. Patrick Catholic School celebrated its 100th year in 2010 and became a kindergarten-through-fifth-grade (originally a K-8) school that same year. The school is not parish-affiliated, so its funds must come through fundraising and tuition. A sponsorship program will be unveiled next year, and the school will give community members the opportunity to act as sponsors for a year, month, or whatever period of time for which their finances allow.
Sr. Marilyn Jean Runkel, O.P., says the school has promised the community a strategic plan and the school will continue to persevere as a self-supporting school, despite financial hardship in previous years. She says the school is putting financial woes behind it and is here to stay. The school’s monthly tuition is $73.50.
Cathedral School and Parish, a pre-kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school, which is parish-affiliated, also strives to make tuition more affordable for its students.
Casey Wichmann, development director principal at Cathedral School and Parish, says the school receives budgetary money from its parishioners, tuition and fees, as well as from annual grants. Through financial aid and other assistance programs, average monthly fees per student are $240. She says the tuition rates have remained low and have changed insignificantly in the last five years.
Rita Fuchs, principal at Cathedral School, says she is excited to see St. Patrick Catholic School has a new full-time principal.
“She sounds like a very strong principal who will help guide that school as a mission school,” Fuchs says.
Gary Sullivan, who served as interim president the last two years at the St. Patrick Catholic School, will serve in the administration on a part-time basis, as he has an invaluable connection to the community, which is important to the school, Runkel says.
“When you get connected to this place, you get connected. And it really gets into your heart,” Runkel says.
Marsaglia says she plans to take her passion as an educator into her leadership role, allowing for personal attention from the instructor in the classroom, by maintaining the size of each class to a maximum of 15 students.
She is also completing her training through the Children’s Dyslexia Center of Springfield to work with students struggling to learn to read.
“It’s my ultimate goal to make students excited about education. And I always feel like that’s the most important thing, that education is going to take them places in this world,” she says.
[CORRECTION: The original version of this story said Cathedral School and Parish was a pre-kindergarten-through-fifth grade school, but the school is a pre-kindergarten-through-eighth grade school.]