History of Saint Mary School
St. Mary School is a Catholic elementary school, under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Hartford, serving Milford and surrounding towns.
In 1960, the pastor of St Mary Parish, the late Rev. Joseph F Collonan, responded to the needs of the Catholic population of the City of Milford by initiating the building of St. Mary School. Within a year, an eighteen-room school building was constructed. After securing the services of the Sisters of Mercy and providing a Convent for them, St. Mary School opened in September 1961 with 252 students enrolled in Grade 1-3. Each succeeding year saw the addition of an advanced grade until 1966, when the school was a fully functioning Grade 1 through 8 school that graduated its first class in June, 1967. Later, the school added a Kindergarten class.
How Saint Mary School Developed
During 1970’s, a part-time physical education teacher was added to the staff. In 1986, an art teacher was hired for the first time and a music teacher in 1987. Reflecting the need to teach students the technological skills they would need in the 21st century, a computer teacher was added to the staff in the 1990’s. In 2004 a Child Study Consultant was added to the staff to help classroom teachers with teaching strategies necessary to help individuals experiencing difficulties. Responding to the needs of the parents of our community, the late 1980’s saw the addition of a preschool program. An extended day After School Program was established during the same time to respond to the needs of working parents. In 1996, the Kindergarten program became full day. In 2007 a full day option for four year olds was added. Departmentalization began in the 1980’s in the upper grades. At present, Grade 6 through 8 are departmentalized to utilize the expertise of the teachers and to better prepare the students for high school.
Saint Mary School Today
In the area of technology, the entire building was wired and connected to the Internet in 2003. In the summer of 2007, a new, state of the art, computer lab and server was installed. This enables the entire staff to communicate by email, thus improving teacher – parent, and school – home communication. By 2009 all classrooms were equipped with 2007 or newer computers and the school began to fully implement electronic grade books for the teachers and electronic Report Cards. In 2007, the school contracted to use “University Program,” (name changed to “Global Academics” in 2009) to provide ongoing teacher inservice in the area of technology integration. Foreign Language was first introduced in the school in 1996 when the eighth graders began taking Latin. Spanish was incorporated in the primary grades in 2001 and extended to Grade 7 in 2004 and Grade 8 in 2011. Math and Reading is grouped by ability in the upper grades. Pre-algebra is taught in grade 7 while Algebra is taught in grade 8 with high school Algebra to students in grade 8 who qualify. There is a lower level basic Math class taught at this grade level when needed. Literature is taught to the advanced Language Art students in grades 7 and 8. Although a Science Room was in place, it was improved in 2000 with plumbing and increased electrical access. Lab tables and equipment were also provided to give opportunities for students to do experiments, dissections and other hands-on activities. St. Mary School has consistently adapted and updated its curriculum and program to meet the needs of its students and community following the guidance provided by the Archdiocesan Office of Catholic Schools. In 2007, the school began to utilize the new curriculum guidelines of the archdiocese, including criterion and referenced based assessment.
Over the past 5 years there has also been an expansion in the school’s offering of extra curricular activities and intramural sports (see the For Students Section). In that time the gymnasium floor has been replaced with new state of the art flooring, laptops have been purchased for use in the Upper Grades and SmartBoards reside in almost every classroom. An noteworthy addition is the vast expansion of our Preschool program (see the For Parents Section). Our website relaunch in May 2012 made all of this information available to everyone. Finally, we are one of the first elementary schools with a social media presence and have facebook and twitter accounts.
Over the years staffing has changed from a school completely staffed by Religious to, in 1995, a school completely staffed by the laity, including a lay principal in 1991. The teaching staff today includes 22 teachers, 16 of which are full time. There are also 9 part time paraprofessionals, working mostly in the primary areas. The Convent, where the Sisters once resided, is now used as our Preschool. This program, first started in 1989, has grown to meet the needs of parents with 3 and 4 year old children. Today the Preschool has many groupings including a part day 3 year old and full and part day 4 year old programs. The public schools of the City of Milford provide a Learning Resource Teacher and a paraprofessional, as well as a Speech and Language Therapist to work with students diagnosed with learning and/or language disabilities. The public schools also assign a School Psychologist when necessary to individually test for disabilities. A full time nurse is provided by the Milford Health Department.
Early in its history, the students of St. Mary’s were provided the option of hot lunch by volunteer parents of the Home School Association. By 2004 an outside caterer was contracted to prepare daily meals with the help of volunteer parents. In 2012 online ordering was introduced.
Parents play an important role at St. Mary School. Through an active and vibrant Home and School Association, parents volunteer in such areas as Library, Interscholastic Sports and many other fundraising and community building events. In the area of fundraising, the H.S.A. currently raises over $110,000 yearly to help keep tuition as low as possible.
To improve security for the school and its students, a gated fence was built to secure the playground area on the side and rear of school where students spend their recess. Basketball hoops and other equipment were added to provide students with more physical exercise during recess. Starting in 2001, all doors are locked during school hours with a call box and video camera to monitor parents and visitors. Parents and other non-staff volunteers wear security badges to insure security for the children.
The Development Committee of St. Mary School initiated an Annual Fund in 1998 to offset expenses and create programs to enrich the school environment. Now called the Advancement Committee, this group oversees special gift giving, marketing and other public relation activities, and has restructured the school database to include alumni, former parents, benefactors and other friends of the school. An Endowment Fund has now been established.
In 2009, the Archdiocese of Hartford, through a grant from a generous patron, contracted Catholic Alumni Partnership to work with our school. By 2010, through CAP, we have been able to update our alumni data base and greatly improve our communication with and identification of alumni and other potential donors.
In 2010, the Finance Council of St. Mary Parish began to work more closely with the Board’s Budget Committee in order to 1.) ensure that sound business and financial practices were being employed, 2.) ensure that those practices were in line with Archdiocesan Chancery and Office of Catholic Schools policies and procedures, and 3.) make recommendations to Principal and Pastor as to how those practices can be improved and/or strengthened. The secondary, but perhaps equally important bi-product of this new relationship will be to strengthen the bond between the school and parish of St. Mary’s. The school family is proud of its history and look forward to even better changes and improvements in the future