Principal's Message

WELCOME FROM THE PRINCIPAL

The process of choosing a school for your child is a challenging and difficult one. As you embark on this process of discernment I hope you will consider St. Paul Catholic School of Princeton. With a rich history dating back to 1880 when the Sisters of Mercy founded our school, we are Princeton’s first and only co-educational Catholic elementary school. Our mission is to provide sound spiritual, educational, moral, ethical, and social teachings. Our research based PreK3 - 8 school model provides a nurturing learning community. St. Paul School is a Catholic school that is committed to teaching the message of Jesus and the truths of the Catholic faith, while providing the highest level of a challenging academic program.

We provide a rigorous curriculum in state of the art facilities right in the heart of Princeton. Our dedicated, experienced faculty model lifelong learning through ongoing professional development. Graduates of St. Paul School attend top private and public high schools. Class sizes are small and provide for individual attention and active learning experiences. The ultimate goal is to enable students to become independent learners and thinkers who can apply what they have learned in real-life situations. We emphasize going beyond the school walls with an extensive field trip and assembly program to bring quality curricular and extra-curricular activities to our students.

Why Choose St. Paul’s School of Princeton?

• The only Catholic school in Princeton, with a successful co-ed, pre-k through 8 model. Princeton and its vibrant university are valued parts of our campus life.

• A 2012 Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, a U.S. Department of Education designation that recognizes overall academic excellence

• Proud of its established STEM program through Project Lead The Way

• Blessed with faculty and teachers who are caring, fully certified, professional educators

• Focus on the whole child, from academics to spiritual to character, and more

• A strong, affordable choice when compared to the areas’ many private schools

For over 135 years St. Paul School has been setting a standard for education in the Princeton area. We are proud to provide an outstanding educational opportunities for our students in a nurturing, faith embedded community and we look forward to the opportunity to share it with your family.

Sincerely,
Ryan Killeen, Ed.D.
Principal

rkilleen@spsprinceton.org

Follow Dr. Killeen on Twitter


Read Aloud

It’s always fun to reconnect with old friends like a Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, or a Visit from St. Nick. Reading together as a family doesn’t just build family unity and shared memories, it also develops strong literacy skills.

When we unpacked what always seems like a limitless supply of boxed Christmas gear at home this year, it’s been a trip down memory lane as I am sure it is for all of you. A favorite box for me is always the collection of Christmas books we have gathered over the years. It’s always fun to reconnect with old friends like a Christmas Carol, The Gift of the Magi, or a Visit from St. Nick. Reading together as a family doesn’t just build family unity and shared memories, it also develops strong literacy skills.

Reading aloud with children is one of the best ways to build stronger vocabulary, strengthen literacy skills, and build a love of reading. Even when students have become independent readers their skills can be increased and vocabulary expanded when exposed to more challenging material read to them. Typically a student’s comprehension ability will be 1-2 years ahead of their reading ability. Don’t let those older kids fool you, they still need read aloud. It encourages their advancement, you can model positive reading strategies, and they love the time with you. I strongly encourage you to build a family habit of reading aloud. Even a few minutes or pages before bed has an impact. Does it have to be every night? Of course not. We are realists but figure out the routine that works for you. Besides the academic benefit, it builds in settling time to improve better sleep which is honestly probably the best thing you can do for a productive school day.

This year we have decided that read aloud is so important in school that we have formalized our instructional read aloud program. All of our classrooms grades P4 through 5 have integrated a formal read aloud practice as part of daily instruction. For at least 15 minutes a day our teachers will read aloud with classes a series of chapter books/novels. Selections will be more challenging narratives than students can read independently to engage curious minds, expand vocabulary and model best reading practices. It builds a community of readers who can participate in a shared literary conversation on plot and character analysis. 

Look out for more details about our read aloud initiative in the new year. Teachers will be communicating each classroom selection and we will welcome guest readers to support the program. I will be visiting all of the classrooms to lead read aloud throughout the winter.

I hope you all have enjoyed another beautiful week of advent as we prepare for Christmas.

Blessings and peace,

Ryan Killeen, Ed.D.

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Waiting for Christmas

While we are only in the first week of Advent we can see evidence everywhere that the Christmas season is in full swing. I would like to ask you all to take a step back from the hustle and bustle, take a deep breath and remember to keep everything in perspective. Let’s remember how perfectly, imperfect the first Christmas was. In a humble manger, not a throne did the Christ child arrive. What we all can emulate is the simple beauty of a family together embraced in love in tranquil simplicity. Our Lord came to us to bring light and hope to an all too human, imperfect world. As we all face our challenges, struggles, and sorrows welcome Him in, make room in your home for our Lord this Christmas.

 

While we are only in the first week of Advent we can see evidence everywhere that the Christmas season is in full swing. I would like to ask you all to take a step back from the hustle and bustle, take a deep breath and remember to keep everything in perspective. Let’s remember how perfectly, imperfect the first Christmas was. In a humble manger, not a throne did the Christ child arrive. What we all can emulate is the simple beauty of a family together embraced in love in tranquil simplicity. Our Lord came to us to bring light and hope to an all too human, imperfect world. As we all face our challenges, struggles, and sorrows welcome Him in, make room in your home for our Lord this Christmas.

Advent gives us time to prepare for Christmas and all of the Joy and Hope the season brings. While we all want to celebrate there is also the need to pace ourselves. Build in time for waiting and refection. In the midst of our current binge watching culture, let’s not race ahead to the season finale. Find some new traditions to incorporate with your family this year. Do you have an advent wreath at home? Perhaps consider participating in a new service activity. Sign up for email reflections at https://dynamiccatholic.com/best-advent-ever

When you trim your tree this year remember it doesn’t need to be Pinterest ready, but it needs to be full of family treasures. Make cookies together. They can be from scratch or slice and bake and even if you burn them just be in the moment. So if the cards go out late, and the scotch tape on your packages shows, and you forget to plug in the Christmas lights, just embrace it. We are not falling short, we are making memories.

This time of year is always one of my favorites and definitely a time I truly appreciate serving in a Catholic school community. It allows us all to embrace the magic of the season through the eyes of our children. It renews in all of us the Spirit of Christmas.

Growing up, a favorite song in our family was always, “We Need a Little Christmas”. As the lyrics go, “We need a little Christmas, need a little laughter, need a little singing ringing through the rafter…” The truth is we could all use a little Christmas every day.

May this beautiful season bring all of your homes comfort and joy.

 

 

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Thanksgiving

This week I’d like to share with you all my remarks from our Thanksgiving Prayer Service. I wish all of you my most sincere thanks and blessing to you and your families this Thanksgiving. God bless!

This week I'd like to share with you all my remarks from our Thanksgiving Prayer Service. I wish all of you my most sincere thanks and blessing to you and your families this Thanksgiving. God bless!

St. Paul School
Thanksgiving Prayer Service, Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Principal's Message:

Webster's dictionary defines thankful as follows. Conscious of benefit received, expressive of thanks, well pleased

I acknowledge that this isn't the most creative way to begin but when faced with how to discuss being thankful I found myself experiencing writer's block. This seemed like a useful convention to kick things off.


Each year as a nation we set aside the fourth Thursday in November to celebrate Thanksgiving.


Personally, I have so much for which to be thankful. I have been blessed with the most incredible wife and children, the love and support of a beautiful, extended family, and a rich, rewarding professional life. I feel so lucky to work with all of you - the students, teachers and families of SPS. I also feel so grateful for my Catholic faith, modeled to me by my Mother and fostered by my education in Catholic school.


Yesterday we began our celebrations as a school family, sharing a joyful family meal at the annual PTA feast. Today we give thanks to the source of all our abundance together in our parish church. In the words of St. Teresa of Avila "In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God, and in all things give Him thanks." While all of the cherished traditions of Thanksgiving should be celebrated on this very special holiday, we are called to give thanks every day.

Turning to the Gospels, I think of Luke 12:48 "Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more." We are called to demonstrate thanks by putting our faith into action. We can celebrate our faith and demonstrate our thanks to God, through our actions informed by Gospel teaching every day. We are called to lives of service as we have done very well in big ways like our 8th grades gathering 3,000 lbs. of apples, sending treats and letters to the troops, or raising funds to support Veterans traveling home for holidays. We also joyfully live the Gospel in those small ways in which we interact with each other and the world each day. The moments unseen, not photographed when we seek out a student sitting by themselves, help a friend struggling with a concept in class, and help mom and dad when they need a hand. These simple acts of kindness make our world a better, more loving place. God calls us to celebrate and share our talents and to live generously as we act each day as His hands and feet on earth.


I will finish today with my sincere thanks and blessings to you all this Thanksgiving and one last quote from St. John Paul II.


"Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence." 

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K-8 Model of Success

Each year we greet the Scholastic Olympics with great anticipation. One of the many things that I love about St. Paul School is that we celebrate academic achievement with such relish.

What makes a success like this so beautiful is that as an academic community we can all celebrate and share in this victory. Every teacher shares in the success of every student. That is the core of the Preschool to grade 8 model. Our students have worked toward these goals since day one and every teacher that has been a guide on this academic journey played a pivotal role.

Each year we greet the Scholastic Olympics with great anticipation. One of the many things that I love about St. Paul School is that we celebrate academic achievement with such relish.

What makes a success like this so beautiful is that as an academic community we can all celebrate and share in this victory. Every teacher shares in the success of every student. That is the core of the Preschool to grade 8 model. Our students have worked toward these goals since day one and every teacher that has been a guide on this academic journey played a pivotal role.

I came across a research study recently that was very affirming. The study was authored by Elise Cappella, associate professor of applied psychology at New York University and found that students who complete a K-8 school are academically more confident than students completing a standalone middle school. As stated by Cappella, “Students’ self-perceptions of academic competence are critical in early adolescence, as they contribute to the development of their identity and their engagement with school.” This most recent study builds on a strong body of research that documents the positive achievement benefits of the K-8 school model and affirms our philosophy here at SPS. The continuity of advancing through a single school community allows our students to grow in confidence and ability. They develop authentic personalized engagement with an interconnected faculty. They have the security to take risks and even experience failure and all the learning that can be gleaned from that process.

The positive transition our students make to secondary school is so heartening to all of us who have been privileged to be entrusted with shaping their education. Without exception I hear from our secondary school partners how prepared our students are to excel in a rigorous academic environment.

It was of course very exciting to see our students recognized last week with their Scholastic Olympics win but the real prize is what our students achieve every day and who they are when they leave.

http://www.educationdive.com/news/nyu-study-students-in-k-8-model-more-academically-confident-than-middle-sc/507471/

http://educationnext.org/stuck-in-the-middle/

http://educationnorthwest.org/news/what-research-says-or-doesnt-say-about-k-8-versus-middle-school-grade-configurations

https://www.nyu.edu/about/news-publications/news/2017/october/attending-a-middle-vs--a-k-8-school-matters-for-student-outcomes.html

http://www.sedl.org/pubs/sedl-letter/v20n01/k-8_schools.html

http://nineteensixty-four.blogspot.com/2014/06/do-catholic-schools-matter.html

https://www.ncronline.org/news/catholic-education-does-it-still-make-difference#table9

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High School Prep

Tell me about yourself! The eighth grade is working on answering this typical interview question and many more as they begin to focus their sights on high school. In ILA class, students do more than just prepare to take admissions tests and write personal essays. They also work with Ms. Dwyer and Mrs. Shen on public speaking skills that will be invaluable as they attend open houses, shadow days and interviews. 

Tell me about yourself! The eighth grade is working on answering this typical interview question and many more as they begin to focus their sights on high school. In ILA class, students do more than just prepare to take admissions tests and write personal essays. They also work with Ms. Dwyer and Mrs. Shen on public speaking skills that will be invaluable as they attend open houses, shadow days and interviews. 

The practice interview is one of our most important parts of the process, and we have been preparing for the past two weeks by responding to practice question prompts in a reflection journal, discussing ways to address common and challenging topics, and drafting a self-recommendation letter. Then, students have the opportunity to sit for a practice interview with an SPS staff member, teacher or administrator and get instant feedback on how to best represent themselves and their many skills and accomplishments.

SPS students excel wherever they attend high school. With this additional, dedicated effort focused on learning how to speak and write well about themselves, students can feel confident that next year they will be attending the best high school for their academic interests, talents, and skills set.

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