Written by Janice DeCicco Fipp, Ed.D
As a principal of one of the Catholic Schools within the Diocese of Camden, I feel a great deal of gratitude and appreciation for many things and many people. First, the oversight and resources provided to our schools by Bishop Sullivan and the diocesan department leaders and staff is impressive. In addition, we are guided as we work together with parish clergy, families and friends, and the support staff at our schools.
At this time of year, when we turn our thoughts to Thanksgiving, I want to focus on a deep feeling of thanks toward all of our hardworking teachers in South Jersey Catholic Schools.
We all believe that teachers are special people, but there is something different about Catholic school teachers. I believe it is their dedication to God and to their calling, which they carry out selflessly and energetically every day. At Saint Joseph Regional School (SJRS) in Somers Point, we are 60 years strong because of our teachers – those who came before us and those who are with us today.
Our last faculty meeting of the 2017-18 school year marked the end of a wonderful school year that brought with it lots of change and numerous challenges for our teachers. They were exhausted.
At the end of the meeting, I announced that I had a list of items I was going to focus on over the summer. I left a sheet of paper on a table with each item written across the top, and I said, “If anyone would like to work with me on any of these items, the day and time I’m addressing each is on the paper and you are welcome to sign up to work with me.”
The items included the enhancement of options for student activities at recess; revisions to the handbook, mission statement and behavior code; creation of a STREAM fair for spring; creation of our professional development plan for the 2018-19 school year; identification of activities to celebrate our 60th year; revisions to our school schedule for grades kindergarten through eight; revitalization of our aftercare program; and scheduling of student clubs and activities for the 18-19 school year.
When I picked up those sheets of paper, there was a list of no less than six teachers under each category. These teachers wanted to work this past summer week in and week out just to make our school better yet. The summer at Saint Joseph Regional School was full of teachers in and out planning, creating, inspiring and problem solving. Even days when I was not holding a meeting for one topic or another, I would walk into a room and find three teachers meeting on their own in preparation for upcoming meetings on aftercare, the schedule and the handbook.
I am blessed at Saint Joseph Regional School, and I know I am not alone. Teachers in South Jersey Catholic Schools give of themselves all year long. They do it not for pay, not for release time, not for any reason except it is good for our schools and students.
This November, I offer special thanks for our teachers.
Janice DeCicco Fipp, Ed.D. is principal, Saint Joseph Regional School, Somers Point.