St. John’s forged an open-ended partnership with St. Brigid’s, a struggling elementary school in the East Village in 2004. Both schools say positive results have been seen since.
At the time, St. Brigid’s, a pre-K through 8th grade school, was struggling with enrollment and a lack of permanently certified teachers.
Since then, a database has been created that includes the children’s test scores, a long-term program of literacy and math instruction was implemented and inventories of the students’ learning styles were compiled. The school has also been brightly re-painted, re-lighted and an art classroom was redesigned to become a teacher’s/multipurpose room with new classroom equipment, all by St. John’s,
“[St. Brigid’s] now stands as a beacon of hope in the East Village,” said Professor Francine Guastello, one of three University professors helping at the school.
Guastello, a former Catholic school principal and now associate professor of literacy at St. John’s, helped get the school’s new equipment from the diocese and refurbish the school’s overgrown yard. Guastello believes she and professors Regina Mistretta and Karen Burke are “embarking on a Vincentian mission.”
The school’s partnership was made because of conversations between close friends and colleagues Dean Jerrold Ross of the St. John’s University School of Education and Catherine Hickey, PhD., secretary of education for the Archdiocese of New York.
The School of Education has been providing St. Brigid’s with resources for on-site staff development, student testing, parental education, and tuition scholarships for teachers that need to earn the advanced degrees needed for certification. By enriching the quality of education available to St. Brigid’s students, and the education of parents on how to help their child, St. John’s and the school hope to continue to attract new students there.
“St. Brigid’s should provide educators with a model for reinvigorating certain Catholic schools, with an emphasis on academic skills and religious values,” Ross said. “We consider this project part of an obligation of a Catholic university to intervene in the education of young children.”