Sunday, October 21, 2018

The Meaning of Success

Success means something different to each of us, and our meaning of success changes from day to day. On this beautiful Sunday, success to me means an incredible 2018 St. Ann Fall Fest. Wow, what an incredible Fall Fest we had this past Friday and Saturday!

The Sky Over Fall Fest- Beautiful
Hats off and a standing ovation to Stephanie Nichols, Jamie Coggins, and Kathy Schiavone. Over the past year, these three ladies have given up a good chunk of their lives to make sure the St. Ann Fall Fest would be a success. Ladies it was a huge success. Thank you as I bow to you for what you have done for St. Ann Catholic Church and School. Starting with the golf tournament and ending with the Wolfchase Hyundai car give-away and 5th Kind playing great 80's music, the Fall Fest could not have been any better. And yes, there was great music in the 80's.

My Golf Team
American philosopher Dennis Myers once said, "Some dream of success while others work hard to make success happen." Thank you Stephanie, Jamie, and Kathy for working hard to make success happen.

Personally, I enjoyed every Fall Fest event. On Friday morning, my team took second place at the St. Ann Golf Tournament shooting 15 under. I know how to stack a team. I recruited the St. Ann golf coaches Paul Mann and Mike Kauker as well as Derrol Jowell of the Jubilee Schools as my teammates. We were 12 under after 12, and that's when we started parring some holes. We actually parred an earlier hole but followed it up with an eagle to keep up our birdie pace.

The Best Auction Prize
The Italian dinner and auction were a hit. The food was awesome especially the meatballs. I'm craving some right now. Selina Trouy and I start our diet on Monday, so no more meatballs. I'm getting hungry just thinking about dieting. Something is wrong with that.

The silent auction was absolutely huge. The best item was a lunch with the principal. I look forward to hosting that lunch. There goes the diet.

I had the privilege of being the emcee along with Fr. Ernie at the live auction. I hope I'm included in the dinner and shooting with Fr. Ernie. That's one pretty creative auction item, and another diet breaker.

I want to send out a special shoutout to all the St. Ann staff (church and school) members who volunteered to help at Fall Fest. I love it when the people I work with take ownership of the organization. That's what the great folks at St. Ann do; they take ownership of the place, which makes St. Ann a great place to work.

4th Grade Coders
This week's shoutout goes to several students. First shoutout goes to 4th graders, Tomas Gomez and Shannia Bailey, for being the first in their class to complete the Hour of Code (coding assignment) in Mrs. Slattery computer class.

7th Graders at Memphis
The second shoutout goes to Cassie Richardson, Logan Wymore, Zach Griffith, and Luca de Jong for their participation in the University of Memphis Engineering Day. They participated in the water filtration competition. Alex Yong, Johnathan Clowney, and Chloe Ngyugen participated in the bridge competition. These young folks participated in the competitions on a day off from school. Thanks for your dedication. Thanks also to Stacey Griffith and Angela de Jong for leading our students at Engineering Day.

6th Graders at Memphis
St. Ann alum Justin Abart returned to show our middle schoolers how businesses use drones. I taught Justin World Geography at CBHS. I must have had some influence on him because he became a geographer. He earned a B.A. in geography from Tennessee and an M.S. in earth sciences from Memphis. I'm hoping that we can have some influence on the current students to study geography so they can help make a positive difference on global warming, deforestation, desertification, pollution (air, water, and land), rising sea levels...  Justin plans to return to continue helping our students in the areas of science and social studies.

I started off the week at the AdvancED conference at Middle Tennessee State University. The two day conference was to help schools preparing for the accreditation process. Our school is accredited every five years, and the accreditation process changes every five years. The conference helped me get more organized and become more knowledgeable in the new process. We have formed our school improvement committee to help lead St. Ann into the future. Our team members are Lori Locke, Liz Wehmeyer, Susan Hunt, Fr. Bill Parham, Teresa Ferrante, Annmarie Ghio, Angela de Jong, and I. Once we develop the school improvement plan, we will present the plan to Fr. Ernie for his approval. Once we receive his approval, we will present the plan to the St. Ann community, and start working on the improvements and school accreditation.

Justin Abart Returns to St. Ann
This week, we also celebrated Awards Day. We honored the students who made the Faculty Honor Roll, Principal Honor Roll, Father Oglesby Character Award, Student of the Month, and the Colt Star Employee of the Month. This month's Father Oglesby Character Award winners are Rock Garrett (K), Anna Tran (1), Taylor Hill (2), Emily Morales (3), Shannia Bailey (4), Cassie Harmon (5), Johnathan Clowney (6), Zach Griffith (7), and Louis Vidal (8). The Student of the Month is Logan Wymore. The Colt Star Employee of the Month is Susan Hunt. Congratulations to all who worked hard to earn an award.

Chili Cook Off Judges
It was an extremely busy week. Glad I spent most of today resting. Part of the relaxation for me was attending 8:30 Mass at St. Ann this morning and then 11:00 Mass at St. Michael. Nothing like a double shot of spiritual uplifting at two great parishes.

I wish all of you a fantastic week ahead, and start off by making Monday a great day.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, Principal
St. Ann Catholic School

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Cool Things

Carvalho Family After
Gustavo's Confirmation
The hardest part of writing a blog is just getting started. For this week's blog, I decided to just start with the cool things that happened this week. It was a short week but a very cool week.

The coolest thing took place this morning at 11:30 Mass. One of my former students from Holy Names, Gustavo Carvalho, was confirmed into the faith, and I was honored to be his confirmation sponsor. The Carvalho Family moved to Memphis from Recife, Pernambuco in Brazil so one of Gustavo's sisters, Gabriella, could receive medical treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The Carvalhos are an incredible family, and we are fortunate to call them St. Ann parishioners. Thank you Fr. Bill for today's confirmation ceremony.

If you want to see a beautiful city, Google images of Recife in Brazil. I've never been there but would add it to my bucket list if I had one.
With Fr. Bill and Gustavo

It is amazing how many people at St. Ann are a part of the St. Jude story including me. The reason my family moved to the United States is because my father was the first oncologist at St. Jude. We have a number of school parents who work at St. Jude in so many different capacities.

Three St. Ann students have spent the last week training in soccer at the Juventus Academy in Turin, Italy. Ruby Langford, Jack Langford, and Brett Battle were part of a team representing Lobos Rush Soccer at Juventus. The 10 day trip included trainings at the Juventus Training Center with the academy coaches and matches against local teams affiliated with the Academy. The trip culminated in a 1-1 tie against the Sisport Scuola
Rudy, Jack, and Brett in Italy
Calcio Juventus Academy team. 
They also toured the area around Turin, including Cantalupa, Vivono, Milan, Lake Como. They saw the Shroud of Turin, and the remaining wall from when the Romans ruled.  Congratulations Ruby, Jack, and Brett on representing St. Ann, Lobos Rush, and the US Soccer Federation successfully!

The third session of Extracurricular Exploration (EE) began this past
Brett at the Shroud of Turin 
week with many new activities. The coolest thing about this session is that two students are teaching a session. Lauren Truelove and Ruby Langford are teaching the sewing EE class. Thank you to Mr. Vince Migliaccio for helping our students with making Rosaries in the Rosary EE. 
We are looking to add volleyball to the fourth EE session starting in January. 

New Pyle Speakers
Mounted in the Library
Another cool thing that is taking place is the number of Pyle speakers being donated for the students and teachers to use in the classrooms. So far, 16 of the 21 sets of speakers we need have been donated. I just checked the school's Facebook page and it appears that 3 more sets have been ordered to bring the total to 19! Thank you to all the donors, which includes students, grandparents, parents, teachers, and friends. One of the friends, Philip Schulte, comes from St. Martin, MO. He is a good friend of mine who read my blog, and was the first person to order speakers from Amazon for us.

Now it is teacher brag time. I have been doing classroom observations for nearly two decades. This past Friday, I observed two of the best classes, ranking right up there with some of the best I've ever seen. The two classes were 5th grade with Mrs. Metaxas and 4th grade with Mrs. Williams.

Kevin and Tavarius
Singing a Duet
The 5th graders were working in groups on their building projects (spaghetti, marshmallows, and tape). It was neat to see some of the groups succeed and some not succeed. Hey, we all learn when we don't succeed. The extremely neat part was the student collaboration taking place as they were doing the math to figure out how much they spent on their project, and if they were able to complete the building project. The whole time, Mrs. Metaxas was guiding the students in her calm and patient way. I greatly enjoyed this observation.

In 4th grade, some students were reading in a group with Mrs. Williams using ReadWorks on their iPads. (https://www.readworks.orgThe students were reading Jenna and the Black Cat. The students not reading with Mrs. Williams were reading Jenna and the Black Cat or Holes on their own, doing vocabulary words, or working on handwriting (cursive). Students were focused, helping each other when needed, and transitioned quickly and quietly when it was time to do so. They were using the iPad, novels, textbooks, and workbooks. This is the way today's classrooms need to look. This class was pretty close to perfect. 

I noticed at Mass this past Thursday that Mr. Ryan Cooper was getting more students involved in the duets. I thought that was pretty awesome. I enjoy listening to our students share their talents.

Looking forward to two events this week. The first one is Donuts with Dad this Wednesday. The second one is the Fall Fest! I hope to see big crowds at each event. Let's support our students and school!

Also want to thank the Fall Fest planning team for allowing me to represent St. Ann on the Channel 24 Local Memphis Live with Chelsea Chandler. Thanks to James Dean from Wolfchase Hyundai for joining us on the set to talk about the car raffle. I hope your kindness and generosity pays you back ten-fold.

 Support St. Ann
Support St. Ann
Please keep St. Ann Catholic School, our students and staff, and this week's events in your daily prayers. We need and greatly appreciate your support.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, Principal
St. Ann Catholic School

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Doozy of an Epiphany

30 Years in Education
20 Years in Memphis Diocese
I often forget that this blog was meant to be more than just about my work. I started this blog to share my thoughts. Even though my thoughts aren't always worth sharing, once in a great while I come up with a doozy. Today's doozy to me was more of an epiphany. 

My wife and I have gotten into a great habit of attending weekend Mass at both St. Ann and St. Michael. St. Ann is our parish, and we live around the corner from St. Michael. We love Fr. Ernie, Fr. Bill, and Fr. Ben. So, going to Mass at both parishes is a treat. I know we are not supposed to go to Mass to be entertained, but to worship. At the same time, I want to leave Mass on a spiritual high. I not only want to know Jesus, I want to feel Jesus. I can say that I do experience that spiritual high at St. Ann and St. Michael.

Cross at St. Michael
At this morning's Mass at St. Michael, I experience that epiphany I mentioned earlier. While singing these lines of the Gloria, "Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, you take away the sins of the world," a vision came to me of Jesus taking away all our sins. I know it sounds crazy, but I could feel Jesus taking away our sins. This son of Mary, carpenter, radical, rebel, who challenged authority, associated with sinners, feared no one, took away our sins. He was crucified for our sins. I thought of what Jesus said in John 8:11, "Go, and sin no more." It was definitely a powerful moment. Almost brought me to tears. Those moments when epiphanies occur are few and far between, but they are incredible and powerful when they do come our way. Most definitely a spiritual high!

This past week ended with the annual Catholic Schools Professional Day at CBHS. This is a time for all Catholic School teachers and administrators to come together for Mass and professional development. This is also the Catholic Schools awards day, and St. Ann staff received numerous awards. The following staff members received the following awards.
St. Ann Award Recipients
Years of Service Award:
Didier Aur- 20 years
Kristen Sellers- 25 years
Carol Caesar- 30 years
Karen Otts- 30 years
Betsy Highland- 35 years

Patricia Cooper- Immaculate Heart of Mary Award
Angela de Jong- Good Samaritan Award

The Fall Fest needs your help with providing water (1 case) and soft drinks (12 packs) at our Italian Dinner. Your student will receive an “out of uniform” pass for the donation. Each grade has an assigned item. 
PK3 & 4 - Water bottles
K - water bottles
1st - Sprite
2nd - Sprite 
3rd - Diet Coke
4th - Diet Coke
5th - Diet Coke
6th - Coke
7th - Coke
8th - Coke
The Fall Fest volunteers will be collecting the donations on Wednesday, October 10th at drop-off. They will hand out “out of uniform” coupons at that time. The Fall Fest planning committee would like to thank you in advance for your donation to the Italian Dinner.

20 Years of Service
The 3rd Extracurricular Exploration session begins on Wednesday with many new offerings. Here is a list of the EE classes for the 3rd session:All West Band (John Baum)Robotics (Stacey Griffith)Sewing (Ruby Langford, Lauren Truelove, and Justin Kissell)Karate /Soccer (Angela de Jong/Didier Aur) Every other dayAnime/Dance (Katie Jones/Tracy Angotti) Every other dayCreating Rosaries (Annmarie Ghio)

Pyle Speakers
We would like to purchase Pyle speakers for the classrooms. Using the iPads through the projectors works well except the speakers on the projectors are very small, and it is hard to hear using those speakers. We purchased one set of Pyle speakers to see how they work in the classroom. We installed them in the 5th grade classroom. Mrs. Metaxas is extremely happy with the speakers, and said the speakers work well with the iPad.

The cost of the Pyle speakers is $50 a set. We would like to purchase a set of speakers for each of the classrooms since the students use the iPads, and they are making more and more presentations as we move more towards project based classes in our STREAM program. Fr. Ernie tasked me with improving the quality of education we offer our students. Having the right tools to aid in instruction is critical. This is a relatively inexpensive way to help the students and teachers. The speakers will last for many years. You can give online via our website. Just designate your gift in the comment section for classroom speakers. Also, specify if you would like to donate speakers to a particular classroom.

The speakers may also be purchased via Amazon.

Support St. Ann
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. It takes time to write a blog, but it gives me time to reflect on the work we do. We are making many improvements. We have some big plans for the future of the school. Improvements take time, lots of planning, and many people coming together to support. This is happening, and it needs to continue to happen. We need your support and prayers to get to where we need to be.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, Principal
St. Ann Catholic School

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Creating a Positive Culture

Great Life of
Pre-K Students
Everyone who attended 8:30 Mass this morning had the privilege of listening to the parish youth choir led by our very own kindergarten teacher, Tricia Cooper. About half of the youth choir members are St. Ann students. I would love to see more of the St. Ann students participate in the parish youth choir, but I know it is hard for them to participate in two different choirs since the school choir has over 60 members. The school choir performs at Mass every Thursday morning. 5th-8th grade school choir members practice 5-days a week. Ryan Cooper, the school's choir teacher, does a great job of leading the school choir. I want very much so for our school choir to sing at a Sunday Mass. Wouldn't it be cool to see and hear 60 St. Ann choir members at Mass. I think the parishioners would greatly appreciate the school choir singing at Mass.

4th Grade STREAM
The St. Ann girls' volleyball team ended their season this weekend with a 7-3 record. They placed 4th out of 10 teams in their league. The girls had an incredible season. According to Coach Jennifer Podesta, the girls came to practice ready to learn, and came to the games ready to win. I believe they started the season losing the first two matches before winning six matches in a row.  The entire team was brand new to volleyball, and they all ended the season loving the sport. With such success and being led by outstanding, dedicated coaches, I'm hoping a lot more of our girls participate in volleyball next season. It would be great if we had several teams participating in volleyball. Congratulations to the girls, Coach Podesta, and Coach Jessica Orban. Thank you for doing such an awesome job of representing St. Ann.

Drew Battle's 1st Out of Town
Soccer Tournament- Birmingham, AL
Thanks to Lt. Justin McNeely and the Bartlett Fire Department, our faculty and staff are certified in CPR.  For our E-Care and Pre-K staff, this was a re-certification.  For the rest of us, it was a certification. This is a 2-year certification. Next, we will set up a 1st aid training class for our staff for anyone interested. For those working with Pre-K students, this is a requirement. For everyone else, it is just suggested. Thanks to Captain Steve Sones of the Bartlett Police Department for helping to set up this training.

6th Grade Science Class
Our administration is working with staff members and Home & School representatives to review the uniform policy. We would like to streamline/simplify the uniforms policy and hopefully help families save some money. We should have a finalized new uniform policy this week. We are still getting input from staff and Home & School.

John Baum, our band director, is hoping to take the band to a band competition in St. Louis in April. The choir might be a part of this competition as well. We are working on the plans to make this happen.

With Abe Abuelouf at the
Bluff City Wing Fest
As an administrator, I highly encourage these types of activities. I believe these activities can be more educational than classroom teaching and learning, and develop a life-time of positive memories. I want St. Ann to be a place our students want to be every day as opposed to being a place they would rather not be. I want to develop positive student experiences so students look forward to seeing their classmates, learning in collaboration with their teachers, and developing great memories for when they graduate from St. Ann. Students should not dread coming to school. We need to create a school atmosphere and culture that students want to be a part of.

Support St. Ann Catholic School
In next week's blog, I hope to expand on some items we would like to purchase for each classroom. As with everything, I'm going to ask for people to step up and purchase these items for the classrooms. We aren't talking about a lot of money. We are talking about $50 for each item for the classrooms. More information to come.  Contact me if you would like to learn about these items before next week. If you can help us, please do help. I invite you to help.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, principal
St. Ann Catholic School

Sunday, September 23, 2018

EE, CPR, 1st Aid, Advanc-ED, and De La Salle

I wrote my first blog in 2011 when I was the president of Helias Catholic High School in Jefferson City, MO. That first blog was on St. John Baptist de La Salle's 3rd guideline in his Meditations for the Time of Retreat, which stated: "That those who teach the young are cooperators with Jesus Christ in the salvation of souls." That blog explains why I believe in Catholic education. Seven years later, I feel even stronger about our role as Catholic School educators. If you get a chance, Click on the link below to read that blog.

St. John Baptist de La Salle
Back then, my blog wasn't a weekly blog. I would write when there was something I felt like sharing. Also back then, the blog got 12-35 hits. That number has been increasing as I've published more blogs. Now, my blog is weekly, and averages about 1,200 hits. The purpose of this blog is to create a positive culture of transparency while generating support for St. Ann Catholic School and my students.

Writing a weekly blog isn't easy. I don't develop an outline with the main points. I don't create a first draft, rewrite, second draft, rewrite... I just think about those things you should know about what's happening at St. Ann, and I start writing. When I'm finished writing, my wife reads it over to help find mistakes. Kelley also lets me know if what I'm writing makes sense. I definitely cannot proof read my own writing. We aren't English majors. We just do the best we can on the editing part. When she gives me two thumbs up, I hit the publish button.

New Fences
Campus Beautification
All that to say that I hope you find this blog informative. I hope it gives you a sense of ownership as to what's happening at St. Ann. I also hope that my students are reading the blogs, and it creates in them a desire to start writing a blog. You don't have to be a certain age or in a certain grade to create a blog. If you feel you have something worthwhile or interesting to share, start your own blog. I highly recommend it.

I'm excited about the great things going on at St. Ann. The Extracurricular Exploration (EE) classes have been a hit. The 3rd session of EE classes begins October 10th. Ideas for EE classes keep coming. I believe Mrs. Griffith is going back to the robotics class and combine it with the Robotics Club. The Robotics Club could start during the EE time and continue after-school. This is something she is working on.

I also want to try something new with EE. Our students are bright and creative. Are there classes they could actually teach if we have adults to help supervise? Yes, we do have classes they could teach. Just for starters, Ruby Langford can teach a sewing class and Michaela Crews can teach a baking class. When I mentioned this idea to them, they were super-excited about the possibility. Let's find a way to make it happen.

The girls self-defense class has been a hit. Like to take this a step further and include the boys. Tracy Angotti wants to add a dance class to EE. Maybe we can alternate between dance and self-defense just like the A and B day schedule. We could have the dance class on A days and Anime on B days. That's another possibility.

Our development committee is growing with the addition of Sr. Connie Tarallo. The committee continues to meet every Thursday at 4:00. Our alumni database continues to grow. We are hearing from more and more alumni. The plan for the Fat Tuesday Alumni Party is materializing. We have lots of ideas brewing. But, we are not going to do anything until after the St. Ann Fall Fest. The Fall Fest is everyone's top priority. We will do nothing to distract from the Fall Fest.

Fall Fest Events
Speaking of Fall Fest, if you haven't volunteered yet, my question is: Why Not? To me, every parishioner and school parent should give a little of their time to help. We are all talented people with something positive to share. It is going to be a great event. I hope we can all enjoy that weekend together.  To volunteer to help with the Fall Fest, click on this link.

Since this is a school accreditation year, we are using the Advanc-ED ELEOT classroom observation form. It is a student and not teacher-centered observation. The ELEOT observation identifies seven student-centered areas within the classroom environment. The other observation form we use is teacher-centered. The ELEOT is much more detailed and comprehensive. It also takes twice as long to complete but it is worth it. There is a good short YouTube video on the ELEOT observation form if you are interested in seeing what areas this observation covers. Here is the link to that video.

St. Ann Volleyball Team
The 3rd-8th graders completed the Advanc-ED surveys, which is part of the accreditation process. The teachers will complete the survey this next week. Parents were asked to complete their survey last school year. I will find out if this year's parents will have the same opportunity to give feedback.

On Monday and Tuesday, all St. Ann staff members (teachers, front office, E-Care, administration) will go through CPR and First Aid training with the Bartlett Fire Department. This means that all of our employees will be certified in CPR and First Aid. We want to be prepared. This isn't a part of Advanc-ED certification but is a part of Pre-K certification with the State of Tennessee.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. Looking forward to another great week of educating our students, continuing our development work, doing more classroom observations, mentoring the young men in fourth grade, teaching my geography class, working the carpool line, and having treats for the puppies in the carpool line.

 Click to Support St. Ann
Finally, remember that without your support, St. Ann Catholic School would not exist. If you are looking for ways to support the school, please contact me at Look forward to hearing from you.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, Principal
St. Ann Catholic School

Sunday, September 16, 2018

I'm Still the New Guy

Prayer Labyrinth with
Missionaries of Charity
We are already halfway through September; six-weeks into the school year. Field trips are being planned. 8th graders and their parents are putting in a lot of time and effort in raising money for the 8th grade trip to Washington DC. The Fall Fest is one month away. The students sold $38,460 (7,692 tickets) in raffle tickets for a 2018 Hyundai Elantra from Wolfchase Hyundai. 4th grader, Lexi Morrison, sold 563 tickets to take 1st place in sales. Volleyball, golf, soccer, Journalism Club, and Club Invention are in full swing. Gradebooks are filling up. We had our first dress-down day, prayer labyrinth with the Missionaries of Charity, and school-wide Rosary. The St. Fautina Youth Society has published their calendar of events.The first easyCBM assessment of the year is complete. Interim grades have been sent out. The choir is practicing for the Christmas concert. The band is preparing for their concert. Classroom projects are being presented. STREAM, LIFE, and SPARKS are in full drive. I'm on round two of classroom observations. Anna Slattery is working on becoming an iPad expert through Apple training. Kris Miller has become the best 3rd grade teacher ever. Deborah Harty became a certified Apple Teacher before me. Katie Jones went to an art convention in Little Rock. We completed the 1st week of the 2nd session of Extracurricular Exploration.

Rainy Morning Drop-off
Got to Make You Smile!
All of this and much more is taking place at St. Ann. Even though I've seen different versions of all of these activities at other schools, it is still new to me. People will ask me questions about everything that's going on. I always give the same answer: "I have no idea. I'm still the new guy." I'm going to try to milk that answer until the end of May. "I have no idea. I'm still the new guy."

Now for the unpleasant news:
Overall, things at St. Ann are going well. Financially, it is always a struggle. We have to pick and choose which bills to pay first, and which we can hold off on. MLG&W and payroll are always at the top. Got to pay those first. Speaking of that, payroll is this week, and I signed the MLG&W bills on Thursday. Our ability to pay our bills is directly related to tuition received. If tuition is paid on time, we are able to pay all our bills on time. Thank God just about all our families pay their tuition in a timely manner. There are always a few who don't take care of their responsibility, which causes us delay in paying our bills. We cannot pay with what we do not have. In the words of Fr. Ernie, "God doesn't pay the light bill. We have to do that."

Nicole G. Our New
Memphis Catholic Intern
Our budget is roughly $1.6 million for an enrollment of 210 students for 2018-19. When all is said and done, that is roughly $7,500 per student. No one pays $7,500. If a family pays full tuition plus fees without any discounts, they pay roughly $7,000. That's a lot to pay but still a bargain for a private education with lots of individualized teaching and learning going on. I would say that on average, our families pay about $6,000 (And, that is probably a very high guess. Maybe that's more of a wish).

In the end, we are going to have to raise about $300,000 from giving and development to make ends meet. That's a huge number. If all families pay their part, it is more like $200,000 that we have to raise. There is no fat in the budget. We plan as close as we can to zeroing the budget out at the end of the year. We plan for lots of HVAC repairs. We plan on MLG&W raising their rates. We plan on the insurance companies raising their premiums. We somehow plan for the unexpected. We even plan on those families who don't meet their financial responsibilities.
Tieraney S. Our New
Memphis Catholic Intern

If it weren't for the goodness and generosity of donors, most parish schools wouldn't exist. Unfortunately, not all parishes have those philanthropic folks who see beyond themselves. That's why so many Catholic Schools in our diocese have closed or are closing. Don't ever want St. Ann to be one of those. It is too good of a school serving a great need in educating our children in a Catholic/Christian environment. Hopefully, our parish has too many good people to ever see this happen.

Sorry about me getting on my soapbox. I believe in transparency. I want everyone to know what's going on. This parish and school belong to all of us. We should all be in the know, and not just about the great things taking place.

Now for some of the great things:
The Fall Fest will be here soon! This is huge for our parish. If you have signed up to help/participate, thank you. If not, please share your talents and gifts. The Fall Fest committee is putting on a festival that will be tough to ever match. I don't have much to offer so I'm offering my time. It is the most valuable thing I have. I want to share it with the great folks who have put their lives on hold to make this event a success for St. Ann. I have one golf team together, and working on a second one.

 Justin Abart on LinkedIN
Justin Abart, Class of '95
Justin Abart, St. Ann Class of '95, is a former student of mine at CBHS. He earned a B.A. from UT in Geography and an M.E in Earth Science from Memphis. He is also a certified and experienced drone operator. He will be coming out to St. Ann to work with our students on using drones for inspections, aerial imagery, data collection, and mapping. This will be a great addition to our STREAM classes. I'm excited about my World Geography class learning from Mr. Abart since we are learning about land and water forms. Great example of an alumni coming back home to share their knowledge.

Girls' Self Defense Class
Here's a question for all you folks in the medical field. Every morning, I see so many parents who are doctors, nurses, and in other areas of the medical profession who are dropping off their children at St. Ann. How can we share your knowledge and talents through our STREAM and SPARKS classes? There has got to be a way. If you are interested in sharing your knowledge to help our students, please call me. I will set you up with Annmarie Ghio and Romana Wendenon. That goes for all you alumni out there as well. Somebody forward this blog to Thomas Slattery. I'm sure we have students who are interested in veterinary medicine.

I want to thank our development committee for their time and talent. We are working to get the word out about St. Ann. Nick Scully, Lori Locke, Sr. Connie Tarallo, Angela de Jong, and I are meeting weekly to plan a campaign to bring back the alumni. We do have several things we are working on, but we are not doing anything until after the Fall Fest. The Fall Fest is priority #1.

 Jeff Blankenship of Blankenship Creative
Jeff Blankenship
Blankenship Creative
Jeff Blankenship of Blankenship Creative has donated his time to produce all the brochures and packets we will need as we work to contact every alumni possible. Thank you Mr. Blankenship for your wonderful gift to St. Ann.

Nick Scully and Jeff Blankenship are neither members of our parish. They want to help ensure that St. Ann will be here for future generations. Thank you gentlemen for sharing with us your time, talent, and treasure. You are helping to make a positive difference in our community.

Sr. Connie and Lori Locke are providing us with alumni contact information. We are slowly but surely filling up our database. CBHS and St. Agnes are also helping us with alumni information. I've said this before, no private school can survive without alumni support and involvement.

If you are an alumni of St. Ann Catholic School and wish to receive updates on St. Ann, please contact Angela de Jong at We need your support.

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St. Ann Catholic School
And finally, there are so many ways to support St. Ann. If you are interested in supporting in some way, please contact me at Your gift could be in the form of time. Your gift could be in the form of a classroom sets of books. Your gift could be in prayer. Your gift could be in tuition assistance. Your gift could be in computers or iPads or printers. Your gift could be unrestricted for other needs. A gift to pay utilities isn't sexy, but it sure is necessary. Once again, contact me if you have any questions.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, Principal
St. Ann Catholic School

Sunday, September 9, 2018

St. Ann Colts Since 1960

Fr. Ernie at the School Mass
Between St. Ann school and parish, well over 500 students receive religious education. The school teachers and Parish Religious Education (PRE) volunteers have a tremendous responsibility in supporting the parents in providing Catholic instruction to the children. Kathy Schober, the parish director of religious education, coordinates the school and parish religion classes to make sure both are using the same text books and religious curriculum. With all the school teachers PK3 through 8th grade and the couple of dozen parish PRE volunteers, the students are extremely fortunate to have so many outstanding Catholic educators teaching them about the Catholic faith. These teachers are definitely doing God's work at St. Ann.

Mass Lector
At this morning's PRE meeting, I was given the opportunity to speak before the parents about St. Ann Catholic School. Kathy didn't have to ask me twice about speaking because I am extremely passionate about Catholic education, and believe that anyone wanting a Catholic education for their child(ren) should not be denied. I let the parents know that there are scholarships available for PRE students if they want to pursue a Catholic education for their child(ren). As I mentioned at the meeting, if you are interested, please contact Angela de Jong in the school office. Thanks Kathy for allowing me to speak at your meeting.

St. Ann School Mass
Unfortunately, Catholic Schools across the country have had to price themselves to the point that middle and low income families cannot afford to send their child(ren) to Catholic Schools unless those schools have money available for financial assistance. All this to say that as people donate to the school, we have more financial assistance available to help.

Have you read Built to Last by James Collins and Jerry Porras? I read that book back in 2006 while I was president at Helias Catholic High School. Collins and Porras said that you should come up with a Big Harry Audacious Goal (BHAG) for your company. "A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines." Along with my team at Helias, we came up with a BHAG for the school, and it worked. The goal was so Big, Harry, and Audacious that it would take several blogs to write about it. 

Helias After Our BHAG!
This was a wooded field in 2013.

Let me just say that I believe Fr. Ernie and I have a BHAG for St. Ann that will work. Fr. Ernie and I believe we have to change the way we operate our school. We believe we need to move to a tithing model school where parishioners don't pay tuition. Instead, all members of the parish increase their tithing. The increased tithing offsets tuition, and the parish community comes together to develop more life-long Catholics. This also means all parishioners send their children to St. Ann Catholic School and participate in tithing.

This models works in the Diocese of Wichita and Diocese of Jefferson City. I'm not saying this has to be done diocese-wide. I'm saying that St. Ann can be the start of this BHAG. If it works at St. Ann, the other parishes can follow along.

Students Workin on easyCBM
Our school has over 200 students. Our PRE has over 300 students. Just imagine what our parish would be like if over 500 students attended their parish school! We are working to build a great school. We cannot do it alone. If you want to be a part of building something great; let's do this thing together.

In a recent study by Georgetown University, they found that only 5% of Catholic millennials who never attended a Catholic School go to Mass weekly compared with 33% who attended Catholic Schools. They also found that 66% of Catholic millennials who never attended Catholic Schools are confirmed compared to 91% of millennials who attended Catholic Schools are confirmed.

Students Working on easyCBM
Am I bad-mouthing our PRE program? Never! No Way! I love the work Kathy and her army of volunteers are doing. They are fantastic. I was trying to figure out how I could volunteer and be apart of the St. Ann PRE army.  I cannot this first year.  Maybe next year I can help. I am saying that there is a better chance of building life-long Catholics if those Catholics attend Catholic Schools.

Now, here are some things that happened this past week.

We are just about finished taking the first easyCBM assessment. The 8th graders have a portion of the math assessment to take as well as some individuals who were absent this week. I hope to have everything finished by the end of Monday. Mrs. Slattery and Miss Ferrante have been a huge help in getting this accomplished. I still have a couple of easyCBM webinars to go through to be able to better use this assessment. The good thing is that Title II will pay for these webinars.

 St. Ann Choir
Click to Listen to Choir
The choir gets better and better every week. If I can figure out
how to add video to my blog, I will add two videos of the choir singing at Mass. I enjoy the school-wide Mass. The first grade earned a pizza party for being the class with the correct answer to Fr. Ernie's question. The question was: Why is Sunday observed as our holy day?  The answer: That was the day of the resurrection. Congratulations Mrs. Harty's first graders.

The new Extracurricular Exploration classes for the middle schoolers start tomorrow.  We have six classes this session.  They are:

Click to Listen to Choir
  • Jazz Band (John Baum)
  • Roller Coaster Building (Stacey Griffith)
  • Blogging (Justin Kissell)
  • PaSaRyu Self-Defense Class for Girls (Angela de Jong, Master in PaSaRyu)
  • Coding (Jimmy Crews)
  • Flip Book Animation (Annmarie Ghio)
 St. Ann Fall Festival
Do you want to use your talents, creativity, and energy to make a positive difference in our parish community? Volunteer to help with the Fall Festival. If the rest of us put in 5% of the effort that Stephanie Nichols, Jamie Coggins, and Kathy Shiavone are in helping with the Fall Fest, this would be the biggest and best party Bartlett has ever seen. I'm using my energy by volunteering for six hours on Friday. I'm also volunteering on Saturday. Just waiting to see where I'm needed.

Also, use your talents to help with the Home & School Hospitality Committee. We are only as strong as the volunteers who help make things happen. We have lots of events planned to help make St. Ann a better place for all. Please help make things happen.

I bought my wife a St. Ann pullover sweatshirt. Cold weather will be here soon. Don't forget to visit the Colt Spirit Shop.

Thank you for reading this blog. My blogs have been averaging roughly 1,500 readers per week. Your comments, suggestions, and ideas will help to make this blog more interesting and relevant.

 Support St. Ann Catholic School
Do you want to use your treasure to make a positive difference in the life of a child? Click on the school logo and contribute to the St. Ann School Annual Giving Society. Help students attend St. Ann by supporting them with a financial scholarship. Help us develop life-long Catholics.  Thank you.

God bless you,
Didier Aur, Principal
St. Ann Catholic School