State of School Address
GSCM Vision Statement
“to grow in wisdom, age, and favor before God and men.” (Luke 2:52)
GSCM Mission Statement
GSCM is dedicated to providing an outstanding education to children ages three to fourteen years in a Catholic atmosphere faithful to the Magisterium of the Church. Using the philosophy and techniques of the Montessori approach, including religious education through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, our goal is to enable each child to develop as a well-integrated human being: spiritually, intellectually, socially, physically, and emotionally.
Enrollment and Marketing
GSCM continues to enjoy healthy enrollment. For the 2022-23 school year our enrollment stands at 213. We also continue to have a waitlist at most levels and many yearly applicants. The administration and Board are committed to keeping class size manageable in an effort to sustain quality instruction and allow for individual attention. Most recently, capacities for each lower elementary environment were reduced from 29 to 27 with the goal of 25 students in each classroom.
The Board approved a 4% increase in tuition for the 2022-2023 school year. This is in-line with other private schools which are increasing tuition between 3.5% and 7.5% this year. This increase enables GSCM to continue its mission to provide an outstanding education focused on Montessori principles within a strong Catholic atmosphere. The Board is committed to applying tuition money to focus on supporting faculty and staff with salaries, program support, professional development, health and dental benefits, and other financial benefits. GSCM’s tuition continues to be comparatively less than other private Montessori schools in the Cincinnati area. This commitment is one of the founding principles of the school–to offer an affordable, Montessori education within a Catholic atmosphere. Beyond the competitive tuition rate, there are several financial aid options to our community to make tuition more affordable (Archdiocesan CEF Awards, EdChoice Scholarship, GSCM Financial Aid).
Supporting Faculty and Staff
The Board is committed to supporting and strengthening our faculty and staff. This fall, the Board researched new health and dental benefits in order to find more affordable coverage for our employees. This, along with the more affordable benefit package rates, increased employee’s paychecks between 15% and 80%.
The Board approved a 4% salary increase for the 2023-24 school year as well as a bonus to be given during Catholic Schools Week. A big THANK YOU to our faculty and staff for their dedication and commitment to our community, families, and students.
Growing our Middle School
Thanks to generous funding opportunities for teacher training, Frances Lackney, our Middle School Humanities Guide, is enrolled in Adolescent Montessori Training through the Center for Guided Montessori Studies. This is a 20 month course and includes online course work, cohort meetings, as well as 2 summer residencies during which she will visit Montessori Adolescent Programs in other parts of the country for intense course work on ErdKinder, outdoor education, and other adolescent program curriculum. Ms. Lackney is also taking part in Growing our Teachers through the Civic Garden Center. This is a grant-based gardening course with other area middle school and high school teachers. The goal is to enhance outdoor growing space and integrate Farm to school education through peer support and mutual sharing of ideas. Ms. Lackney and the middle school students are already preparing sketches to restructure the school garden, install a chicken coop and other enhancements to ErdKinder. This is one more step that the Middle school staff has taken to implement the recommendations of Dr. Robin Howe, who visited our school last year to observe and support our Adolescent program.
Theology of the Body Campus
As of August, GSCM is an official Theology of the Body Campus. This includes monthly staff formation and other endeavors to enhance campus culture to embrace what it means to be “A community of persons where everybody is seen as a gift.” The Theology of the Body curriculum from Ruah Woods will be implemented in kindergarten through 8th grade as part of the holistic, integrated classroom experience. Our annual retreats for 3rd through 6th grade will focus on TOB themes and concepts within a prayerful, contemplative setting. The objectives of this curriculum are to understand and integrate God’s call to authentic love of God and one another. It lifts up the innate dignity of each human person and our call to live for one another, treat each other as a gift, and live out our universal call to holiness.
This past summer as the Board of Trustees was doing a review of finances some discrepancies were found that spanned over several years. As a result, our financial director resigned. The Board hired Clark-Shaffer Hacket to conduct a review of the school’s finances. After a more thorough review GSCM has put in place tighter financial controls.
The Board worked with Anne Marie Vega to identify needed skills and develop job descriptions to complete the GSCM administrative team, especially in regards to finance and development. The administrative team is now restructured to include the following positions. All the administrative duties of running and operating the school have been reassigned and delegated to these four individuals.
- Principal, Anne Marie Vega
- Administrative Assistant, Becky Wichman
- Advancement Director (see announcement below)
- Facility Manager, Zach Gagel
We are excited to announce that Ryan Lopez has been hired as our new Advancement Director. He will begin his new position on March 1st. Ryan comes to us from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati where he has been a development officer in the Stewardship Department. He has previously worked with ministries that include NET Ministries and The Laboure Society. He has also assisted with capital campaigns for the Diocese of Lansing with the firm Greater Mission. Ryan is a parent in our community who, along with his wife Catherine, have 3 children, Anthony, Lorenzo, and Siena. Ryan’s duties at GSCM will focus on donor cultivation, marketing, outreach, some finances, and fundraising. Ryan brings a passion for GSCM and a servant’s heart to our school. He is dedicated to enriching our faculty with his expertise and skills.
We made updates to our safety protocols. Phones have been installed in all classrooms and tutor rooms throughout campus. This improves communication among buildings and allows the office to push out “all school” announcements if needed. Dennis Hern, a grandparent in our community, donated walkie-talkies so that all classroom environments have a means of communication when outdoors and transitioning between buildings. Cincinnati Alarm Systems installed new cameras and security locks on the main doors to all buildings and all staff members now wear ID badges while on the school campus. We purchased 3 new AEDs allowing one to be present in each of our campus buildings. Thirteen staff members were also trained in First Aid/CPR/AED by the Red Cross.
New PTO Officers
The beginning of the 2022-23 school year brought new officers/leadership to our PTO. PTO officers serve 2 year terms. We thank Anna Singh, Jennifer Dammarell, Annie King, and Tori Marshall for their leadership over the past two years. They helped to build community, show gratitude to our faculty and staff, and maintain traditions during a challenging time when gathering for events was difficult. We welcome Catherine Lopez, Jessica Stieritz, Emily de St. Aubin, and Rebecca Karns-Simmons as our new officers. PTO works to foster parent involvement and support throughout the school by organizing community events and supporting the faculty and staff in a variety of ways.
Facilities and Campus Improvements
The opening of the 2022-23 school year was highlighted with the installation of new A/C in the main building. What a joy to be able to learn and work in a comfortable environment. The entire GSCM campus is now air conditioned. We also continue to investigate and plan for improving water mitigation issues on the school’s campus. Last years’ spring event raised over $20,000 to help with this issue. We are in conversations with several engineering companies to get bids for a survey and develop a recommendation plan. A new apple orchard will be coming to the southside of the Bushelman building (Upper Elementary). We contracted with Evans Landscaping to create retaining walls and new landscaping in preparation for planting trees this spring. The Middle School fundraising committee and Erdkinder groups are researching and planning to build a chicken coop to be housed near the workshop. We plan to partner with Gorman Heritage Farm to participate in Chick Hatching in the Classroom, where the students will hatch chickens from eggs and then raise the chickens for eggs.
New Strategic Plan
The Board worked this summer and fall to create a new strategic plan to guide their work over the next 3 to 5 years. The Board is responsible for upholding GSCM’s mission, ensuring long-term financial health and stability, appointing and supporting the principal, addressing policy issues and setting and implementing GSCM’s long-term strategic plans. Three areas of improvement/growth were identified. Overall goals within each area were developed and shared with the administrative staff. The administrative staff along with the teachers will create strategies to implement these goals. Board committees will oversee the progress of these goals.
GSCM Board of Trustees Strategic Plan
Adopted January 2023
|Faculty Focus||Finance Focus||Faith Focus|
|GSCM will conduct a yearly survey and/or interview of all faculty and staff to assess needs, concerns, and expectations, which will be shared with the Board each February.||GSCM will research, assess, and implement one or more improvements to faculty support, total benefits and/or compensation per year over the next 3 years. (ie. class size, intervention resources/personnel, disability insurance, etc.)||GSCM students will develop a deeper prayer life through consistent daily prayer in each classroom environment, utilizing 3 or more types of prayer from the rich treasury of Catholic tradition.|
|All GSCM faculty and staff will create and implement a yearly professional development plan sharing it with the principal and evaluating it at the end of each school year.||GSCM will implement the recommendations from CPA firm Clark Schaefer Hackett by developing two or three new processes each year over the next 3 years to maintain a workable system of checks and balances and monitor finances||GSCM will spiritually support the faculty and staff by the implementation of brief (3-5 minutes) daily communal prayer before the beginning of school day and by supporting one or more formal programs of spiritual formation for faculty such as Theology of the Body and School of Faith.|
|GSCM will support the whole-child approach by providing 2 or more investments per year to enhance art, music, and/or outdoor education.||GSCM will establish an endowment of $1,000,000 or more within the next 10 years for funding a faculty chair, capital improvements and/or supporting financial aid for families.||GSCM will support the spiritual growth of its families through the implementation of two or more spiritual formation programs for parents, which affects at least 25% of its families.|
Alison Zlatic, President
Martin Wilhelmy, Vice President
Ernie Corvi, Treasurer
Annette Lustenberger, Secretary
Mary Lennard, Trustee
Anna Mitchell Egan, Trustee
Chris Ertel, Trustee
Carla Molina, Trustee
Tim Navaro, Trustee
Russell Newsom, Trustee
David Rahner, Trustee
Anne Marie Vega, Principal
New Board Members
Board members serve three year terms with the possibility of renewal. New Board members are discerned each November and begin service in January. In 2023 GSCM welcomed the following trustees:
New Board leadership will be discerned this spring/summer. Biographies of each Board trustee can be found on the school’s website.
Education–The Path to Peace and A Help to Life
GSCM continues the legacy upon which it was founded 25 years ago. Immersed in Montessori philosophy and guided daily by our Catholic identity, we strive to create an environment where children grow and thrive, where each person is respected and loved, and where Jesus Christ is the center of all that we say and do. Maria Montessori advocated for an approach to education and an orientation of society that nourished the innate abilities within the human person to become a dynamic and unifying agent of global solidarity and lasting peace. She believed strongly in the powers hidden within the child and called upon the parents, teachers, political leaders, and entire communities to improve and elevate society through the child. The message on her tombstone reads: “I beg the dear, all-powerful children to join me in creating peace in man and in the world.”
“The art of education must become a service to these powers inherent in all children. It must be a help to life.” -Maria Montessori
“This is education, understood as a help to life; an education from birth, which feeds a peaceful revolution and unites all in a common aim, attracting them as to a single centre. Mothers, fathers, politicians: all must combine in their respect and help for this delicate work of formation, which the little child carries on in the depth of a profound psychological mystery, under the tutelage of an inner guide. This is the bright new hope for mankind.” -Maria Montessori