Letter from the Head of School

Greetings SJA Family and Dear Friends!

Our first marking period of the new school year is coming to an end and parent conferences were just held. I am OVERJOYED with the start of the year and am the proudest Head of School! Please indulge me as I brag about our girls and the team here at SJA and share some of our most recent accomplishments.

ACT SCORES ARE THE HIGHEST IN MORE THAN 10 YEARS!

We have just received the ACT scores from the spring and our girls increased their overall composite score by almost TWO full points. English is up over 3.4 points. Math is up 1.1 point. Reading is up 2.1 points. Science is up almost 1 full point. The IB program is paying off and the support we offer is working! We have some of the greatest gains in the Archdiocese and have been congratulated on our hard work by Dr. Kathleen Cepelka, Superintendent of Schools.

SEVEN IB DIPLOMAS AWARDED!

We received our IB scores in early July and I am proud to report that seven young women from our first IB cohort received an IB diploma in addition to their SJA diploma! We have created a culture of hard work and enthusiasm toward learning that must be celebrated. Most schools, when they are new to IB have few kids trying for the diplomas and even fewer receiving them. It is not uncommon for a school to have zero diplomas in their first year. I am so proud of our girls and their teachers for these incredible results.

In total, 61 IB exams were administered in May 2017. More than 30% of all exams taken scored high enough for students to receive college credit! With such a strong beginning I am excited about what is possible for our girls as this program continues to grow and get stronger.

ELIZABETH LINGEN NOMINATED TO STATE OF WISCONSIN DPI COUNCIL!

Assistant Head of School, Elizabeth Lingen was nominated by the Wisconsin Council of Independent Schools (WCRIS), at the recommendation of Sue Nelson, Deputy Superintendent for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, to serve on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) Professional Standards Council. She will represent private and religious K-12 schools making decisions on curriculum, teaching standards, learning standards, and other statewide educational decisions. Congratulations Ms. Lingen - you will be great!

BEST FUNDRAISING YEAR IN MORE THAN SIX YEARS!

The fundraising team of Joel Cencius, Director of Development and Communications, and Rachael Habermehl, Development Manager, raised more than $730,000 last school year. Every penny of that was used for student programs and learning. We have not seen a year this strong in more than six years! The department has just added Lidia Sobierajski, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, to enhance the communications from the school. I am honored to work with all of these professionals in making possibilities happen for our girls.

STRONGEST RECRUITEMENT CYCLE IN SIX YEARS!

Under the leadership of Alexis Carter, our Director of Admissions and Enrollment, the new freshwoman class is up 20% from last year's class and applications to SJA were up by more than 57%. Alexis is ably assisted in this task by Kevin Foley, Trinity Fellow from Marquette University who is working for us as our Admissions Coordinator. Alexis and Kevin are now visiting more than 50 schools in the next six weeks to "outdo themselves" from last year! If anyone can do it, they can.

GIRLS WIN FIRST VOLLEYBALL GAME OF THE SEASON!

SJA Jaguars had their first volleyball game of the season...and they beat our new "Arch-rival" Messmer High School in all three matches!

We are also excited that the Cross Country season is gearing up. Homecoming happens in October where we will celebrate fall sports and build great school spirit. A little healthy competition is good for one's mind and morale. If a one games win is a streak, let's keep this streak going!

FIRST MASS BRINGS NEW LIFE TO SJA / FRESHWOMAN RETREATS BEING HELD!

A huge thank you to Fr. Mike Bertram from St. Francis of Assisi Parish, musician Sam McClain, and cantor Laura Morales for helping us create a joyful opening Mass for our students. The music was upbeat. The Mass was bilingual. The prayerful impact was nothing less than spectacular! I also thank SJA board member, Jennifer Maney, the Executive Director of the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC) for helping to coordinate this with Fr. Mike.

Freshwomen retreats were recently held. This will be the first time many students will have experienced the prayer and faith sharing that comes from being on retreat. We pray for them as they explore their own unique relationships with God.

No matter your connection to SJA, you can be proud of everything that is happening here. The Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida mission statement says they "touch lives and challenge systems." I am proud to say, we live that mission out every single day. We could not do it without any of you! You are the reason that this school is that special gem on the corner of Cass and Ogden. You are the reason we are able to "embrace young women and help them discover their God-given potential, give voice to their passion, and [eventually, they will] change the world!

Blessings and Thank you,

Paul T. Gessner

Head of School

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