Archives for September 2017

Supporting New Teachers and Service Learning Fair!

Mr. Spalindg's 5th Graders_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus

I thought I would write this week about how St. Francis School supports our new teachers. This year we have four new faculty members: Leonor “Leo” Provan in LS Spanish, Danny Ruano in 2nd grade Language Arts/Social Studies, Billy Spalding in 5th grade, and Maggie Sun in MS Chinese. First, we hold a New Faculty Orientation prior to school starting, at which Jen Griffith and I explain both our school philosophy and mission (which they are always already familiar with due to interviewing and personal research) and the ins and outs and procedures particular to St. Francis (I call this the “Kitchen Sink Meeting!”). Then they have lunch with their assigned mentor teachers. Veteran faculty members are assigned to new teachers to be their personal guides, helping navigate their way through all the aspects of school life a teacher faces, from the mundane (like email and voicemail) to the more involved (progress reporting and parent-teacher conferences). Having a friendly face nearby to answer your questions goes a long way to helping a new teacher become acclimated to St. Francis.

During the first month of the school year, Jen or I observe each of them teaching a lesson and give them feedback and any advice we may have. This will be followed up with another such observation mid-year, as well as an observation by their respective department chair. Then this week, our new teachers all attended a one-day professional development workshop put on by ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States who is our accrediting institution) called the New Teacher Institute. This features informational sessions and conversation pertinent to Independent school life. All four of our teachers reported a great day at this workshop and found it affirming to talk with other new teachers about what their first month of school has been like. Finally, Jen and I had a follow-up lunch with all of them this week to check in and answer questions they may have to date, such as on our upcoming interim progress reports going out next week.

All four of our new teachers are off to a fantastic start this new school year, and we are confident they are “St. Francis people” who will thrive here!

Service Learning Fair_RG ArticleThis week was also time for our annual Service Learning Fair put together with great care by our Service Learning Coordinator and Librarian, Lindsy Serrano. From Lindsy:

Every year, the Goshen Campus hosts a Service Learning fair, which is an opportunity for students to meet with local community service organizations and hear about ways that kids can help the community.  

Organizations participating this year included Creasey Mahan, Kosair, Paws with Purpose, Water Step, Arrow Fund, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Louisville Nature Center, Dare to Care, Neighborhood House, Volunteers for America, and Louisville Grows.

In the next few weeks, each grade will pick a service learning project and build a partnership with a community organization. It is always wonderful to see students get inspired and dream up ways they can help their community. Many of our visitors commented on how impressed they were with our students at SFS!

The Service Learning Fair is always an inspiring and noisy affair in our Main Amp but at the heart of it lies compassion and a desire to help others while also nurturing our students’ personal growth as people and citizens. Congratulations to Lindsy for making it such a success!


Dragon Boat Team Wins Scholastic Division for the Second Year!

Dragon Boat Races 2017_Main Image 4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

It’s been a festive week at the High School! Last Saturday, our Dragon Boat Team repeated as Scholastic Division Champions at the Louisville Dragon Boat Festival. Overall, they finished 6th out of 22 teams (including some that train for the event and travel to it!). Congratulations to teachers David Word and Chris Hutchins for spearheading this year’s event, and to all the other rowers:  students Angela Liu, Sam Yost, Caroline Pepa, Hanna Otto, Kelly Baize, Eden Baize, Justin Strothman, Connor Strothman, Bennett Middendorf, Grayson Razavi, Chris Hammond, Clay Foye, Lily Johnson, and Josh Arnett; parents Chrys and Doug Strothman; High School teacher Ralph Marshall, former High School teacher Bob Jones, and Goshen teachers Billy Spalding and Jason Chlopek.

As the week began, so did the build-up to the Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire. Tuesday was Pajama Day, Wednesday was “Dress Like a Teacher Day” (with Mike Snyder’s Jenn Buck and Osaz Omoruyi’s Juan Ramirez garnering top honors), and Thursday was “Twin Day” (with Michael Crinot and, again, Osaz Omoruyi winning by a landslide, Parker Smith and Victoria Richardson in second place, and Caroline Pepa and history teacher Ralph Marshall in third). Friday is Wyvern Spirit Wear Day and we’re sending the fall sports teams off at the end of the day with banners and balloons. We’ll enjoy a student-faculty volleyball game, celebrate Senior Night after the games conclude, and then gather for our third annual Bonfire. Because even tradition can be improved upon, this year, by student request, we’re featuring a Watermelon Eating Contest. I watch the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest every July 4th, so I feel well qualified to hold this competitive eating event, the first of which I am aware in St. Francis history. Results to come next week! Hope many of you can join us for the games and picnic.  

Photo Gallery for Week of September 11 – September 15


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Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon

PS Luncheon_1By Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

It was wonderful seeing everyone at the Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon! We enjoyed sharing our School and our goals for the year with you, along with the good food. Thank you to our fabulous Parent Association for bringing side dishes and assisting with cleanup.

Next Friday is TRANSPORTATION DAY! This is an exciting day that you don’t want your child to miss. If your child attends Preschool on Tuesday/Thursdays, you are welcome to bring your child and attend Transportation Day with him/her. Please send your little one to school prepared to spend the day outside climbing on and in a variety of cars and trucks. We prefer that they wear closed-toed shoes for this event; sneakers are the best for climbing. Children need to be signed into their classrooms by 9:00 a.m., so we can begin promptly at 9:30 a.m.

School Notes for Week of September 5 – September 8

Attention Goshen Campus Parents: We want to remind you that we are a nut-free campus. The Goshen Campus is a peanut-/tree nut-free campus during the school day. The only exception is for items sold at our concession stands during after school events. We have students with severe allergies to these and other foods. Any foods brought in for birthday/class/special event parties/extracurricular activities or even for personal lunches should be commercially prepared, prepared by our school chef, or store-bought with legible ingredient lists. Our approach does not seek to provide a completely allergen-free environment, but instead seeks to minimize the probability of exposure while maintaining heightened awareness about how to avoid exposure and deal with exposure if it occurs. As always, parent support, understanding, and participation are key to the success of our policy.

Lower School Student Council elections are scheduled for Thursday, September 14th. Students in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades will be able to run for Student Council positions beginning the week of September 11th. We will elect a boy and a girl from each grade. Students who are interested in being Student Council representatives can get forms and information from Sarah Dewberry or Emily Campbell beginning Tuesday, September 5th. Please follow the instructions below:

  • All candidates must ask a teacher to fill out a reference form, available September 5th – 8th from Sarah. Dewberry or Emily Campbell.
  • Signs may be hung in the Main Amp or Lower School areas of the building the week of September 11th -14th. Masking tape or other non-marking adhesive must be used to hang signs.
  • Candidates may not give out anything that encourages votes. Examples are candy, stickers, notes, pins, erasers, and the like.
  • All candidates will give a short speech (two minutes or less) on the morning of September 14th.
  • Elections will be held following speeches and the results will be announced at the end of the day on September 14th.

Picture day schedule for the Goshen Campus and Downtown Campus retakes.

Goshen Campus
9/18 – JK – 3rd grade
9/19 – 4th – 6th grade, PS 2 day 2s and 3s, and 5 day 2s and 3s, and Mr. Paul’s 4s
9/20 – 7th & 8th grade, PS 3 day 2s and 3s, and Ms. Kelly’s 4s
10/12 & 10/13 – Retakes

Downtown Campus
10/18 – Retakes

New York Times bestselling author and educator Rosalind Wiseman will be speaking to parents about creating cultures of dignity on Friday, September, 22nd at 6:00 pm at Louisville Collegiate School. Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence, was the basis of the 2004 film Mean Girls. She is also the author of Masterminds and Wingmen and creator of the Owning Up Curriculum, a social emotional curriculum that teaches students and educators to take responsibility as bystanders, perpetrators, and victims of unethical behavior. The event is free, but you must register using this link.

Don’t forget to add the School Portal to your phone’s home screen! The School Portal is a great resource for parents, students, and teachers alike. It’s your one-stop-shop for grades, schedules, and directory info. It’s basically an app in website form! Using the instructions below, you can make it even more like an app by adding an icon to your phone or tablet’s home screen. This will allow you to access the Portal with just one tap!

For iPhone:

  1. Using Safari, ​navigate to the Portal at (If you’re reading this email on your iPhone, you can simply tap the link).
  2. Locate and tap the icon of a square with an arrow pointing up (near the bottom of the screen). You may have to scroll to the top of the page to get it to appear.
  3. Select Add to Home Screen.
  4. Choose a name for the icon (SFS Portal is a good choice), then tap Add.

For Android:

  1. Using Chrome, ​navigate to the Portal at (If you’re reading this email on your phone, you can simply tap the link).
  2. In the top-right corner of the screen, locate the three vertical dots, and tap to open the menu.
  3. Select Add to Home Screen.
  4. Choose a name for the icon (SFS Portal is a good choice), then tap Add.

You can also refer to this web page for complete instructions on virtually any tablet or phone. The article is from 2014, but the steps are still the same. When you’re done, you’ll have an icon on your home screen for easy access to the Portal.

Penny Wars

HS Coin Drive_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

Thanks to all the parents who joined us for the Back-to-School program last night! We love getting to show you what happens in our classrooms every day.

We also appreciate parent support of our Penny Wars to raise funds for hurricane relief, in conjunction with the coin drive on the Goshen Campus. The generous spirit of our students has been evident all week, and we look forward to announcing the total raised soon.

Another upcoming event sponsored by the We Act groups on both campuses is our Color Run on Saturday, September 23rd, proceeds from which will support the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. Regular registration for that ends today, so please register (see information in this newsletter) and come out to have a great time while helping us help others!

Speaking of great times, next Friday is our annual Fall Sports Picnic and Bonfire, all held at the Goshen Campus. We’ll have a bus to and from Goshen, leaving after school and returning downtown about 10:30 p.m. Events include a student-faculty volleyball game, varsity field hockey and soccer games, a grill-out, and a bonfire just for High School students from 8:00 – 10:00. Please join us!

“Lollipop Moments” and Everyday Leadership!

Coin Drive 2017_1By Reed Gabhart, Head of Goshen Campus, and Shelly Jones, Middle School Dean of Students

As you may have heard from your children by now, it’s been a truly positive start to the 2017-18 school year! The overall vibe on both sides of the building is one of joy and happiness at being back in school.

However, juxtaposed with our good fortune is the fate of so many in Texas who are enduring the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. And true to their Wyvern character, our kids were not content with just asking their parents to donate to the Red Cross. So this week we’ve had a coin drive organized by the We Act Club in which everyone has been asked to scour their houses and cars for loose change to bring to school. The We Act kids are rolling the coins and have a grand goal of raising $2,000 together with the High School We Act group (who are sponsoring Penny Wars there) by the end of the week to make their own mark on this terrible situation. Here’s some more from Middle School Dean of Students and We Act Club Sponsor Shelly Jones:

Last week during advisory time, our Middle School students watched a TED-x talk about “Everyday Leadership.” In it, educator Drew Dudley defines what he calls a “lollipop moment,” or a small moment when an everyday person says or does something that fundamentally makes someone else’s life better. (For a deeper appreciation of the lollipop reference and to facilitate a conversation with your middle schooler, feel free to watch the TED talk here.) The point of the talk is that we don’t have to be leaders with a capital “L,” or some grand, extraordinary individuals, to make a difference in someone’s life. Instead, he says we need to redefine leadership as an opportunity to help individual people, in small moments, in our ordinary daily lives. Dudley explains, “We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments – how many of them we create, how many we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward and how many we say thank you for. Because we’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.”

Our Middle School We Act Club is hard at work, already, leading through such lollipop moments and creating opportunities for individuals to help individuals. As Reed said, in response to the flooding in Texas, our WE Act Groups on both Campuses sponsored a coin drive to donate to disaster relief efforts. Students cleaned out their family vehicles, closets, sofa cushions, and piggy banks to find spare change to donate. Some students, like 5th graders Caroline and Parker McCurry, even sold lemonade over the Labor Day weekend to raise funds.

Another upcoming opportunity for individuals to get involved in helping others is by participating in the My School Color Run on September 23rd. Early bird registration ends today, so please sign up here. Our Middle School We Act group heard from SFS Parent Stephanie Mutchnik about the opportunity to partner with the Offin Children’s Center, an orphanage and education center, in Offinso, Ghana. All proceeds from the My School Color Run will go to support the OCC, and our students will begin the work of creating a cultural exchange with the students and residents at the Center. More lollipop moments, or opportunities for everyday leadership and change-making, this time made possible by a parent in our School community!

What a wonderfully committed group of kids who have their hearts and minds in the right place! Their energy and drive reminded me to dig through my own change piles on Labor Day weekend to bring in a baggie full of coins. And who knows, with Hurricane Irma now looming off the Eastern seaboard, we may need round two next week, sadly. I’m sure our kids will come through and make us proud!

Photo Gallery for Week of September 5 – September 8

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400 Service Hours in the Books!

Community Service Projects_4x6By Suzanne Gorman, Head of Downtown Campus

We kicked off our Community Service program for the year with visits to 16 different sites, plus one group – We Act – that spends its time planning global and local service projects. The 16 sites this year are Gilda’s Club, Project Warm, Christian Care Communities, Kentucky Refugee Ministries, Louisville Grows, Kentucky Science Center, Louisville Nature Center, Chestnut Street YMCA, House of Ruth, Boys and Girls Clubs of Kentuckiana, New Directions Housing, Olmsted Conservancy, Americana Community Center, Family and Children’s Place, and Heuser Hearing Institute. In just our first morning (of six throughout the year), our students and faculty/staff put in over 400 hours of service to these nonprofits in our community! We’ll continue the work on five additional service days, one each in October and November, and three in the spring.

The We Act group, for which I am lucky enough to be the faculty moderator, is in its fifth year at the High School. Last year, along with our Middle School peers, we finished a four-year goal of raising $10,000 to build a school in Haiti. This year, we’re focusing our global efforts on partnering with an orphanage in Ghana, through a connection with one of our school families.  Information about our first event, the My School Color Run on Saturday, September 23rd, is included in this newsletter, and we would love to have your support for this fun, family-friendly event! The students and I will decide what local causes and projects to focus on as we get farther into the year. We also will be doing a “Penny War” coin drive next week and a cookout later in the month to support hurricane relief efforts in Texas.

Each Community Service day will feature service work in the morning and an all-school event in the afternoon. Today was the Black Students Association film viewing; this year, they selected the documentary Trouble the Water about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Brett Paice and Trent Apple provided some context beforehand about New Orleans, and students engaged in discussion after. (The BSA had selected this movie before the advent of Hurricane Harvey, so its timeliness is coincidental.)

I look forward to seeing you at Back-to-School Night next Thursday at 6:30 p.m.!

Create your family’s Smart911 Profile

Smart911 4x6 ImageBy Renee Hennessy, Preschool Director

On Wednesday, you may have heard your child talk about the fire drill that occurred at school. Each month, we will practice safely exiting the building in case of an emergency. I’m happy to report that everyone exited quickly and calmly. In your child’s backpack this week, you should find a flyer with information about the lifesaving program Smart911. We hope that you take the time to create a Smart911 Profile for your family, so emergency responders can quickly assist you in an emergency.

Plan to attend our Preschool Back-to-School Luncheon on Friday, September 8th. This is a great opportunity for you to meet other families in your child’s class, hear about the daily routine, and learn about the goals for the year. The PA contacted you this week with a sign-up for bringing side dishes to the luncheon. Ideally one parent for each child can attend this event. We hope to see you on Friday, September 8th at 10:30 a.m.

Friday, September 15th from 9:30-11:00 a.m. we will host Preschool Transportation Day, one of our favorite events of the year! This tradition began 19 years ago by a few dedicated teachers who wanted to share a hands-on experience of how the city moves with the children in their classes. It is such an exciting day, so please send your child to school dressed to spend the morning outside (think shoes to climb in and comfy clothes). We will be hosting our preschool friends from Keystone Academy, too. If you are free and would like to attend with your child, please let your classroom teacher(s) know.

Please note: Preschool classes will operate on a regular schedule for Wednesday, October 11th when the rest of the school dismisses at noon for faculty professional development.