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.
Twenty-Five Years Strong
It’s our silver jubilee! What an incredible time to celebrate all that is good and precious about GSCM. Just a few highlights. (keep reading for more)
- Our Fine Arts program is blossoming. We produce two plays a year, each including 22-25 students. All the sets and costuming are student led and created. We have an orchestra of 8 players and a choir of 20!
- Our school is budding with CGS catechists. Currently we have 11 trained catechists on staff alone. We also have at least 6 parents who are trained in one or more levels of CGS, some offering volunteer hours in the atrium.
- We have strengthened our Spanish program, offering Spanish at all levels with in-classroom instruction for Preprimary and Lower Elementary and pull-out instruction for Upper Elementary and Middle School.
Enrollment and Marketing
As we celebrate our 25th year of operation, we enjoy a healthy and stable enrollment. We continue to attract new families each year, mostly thanks to word of mouth marketing and the sharing of great experiences from family, friends, and alumni. Because of the uniqueness of what we offer as a Catholic Montessori School, families from around the TriState seek enrollment for their children. Our families come from almost 30 different zip codes. Our enrollment is full and continues to have a waitlist at most levels.
Expansion of Scholarship Opportunities
The 2023-24 school year saw wonderful opportunities for families to offset the rising cost of tuition. Ohio passed an expansion of the EdChoice Scholarship Program. Now ALL Ohio families qualify for at least a $650 scholarship (per student) to be used towards K-12 tuition. This allows Ohio families to share in state tax dollars and apply them towards school tuition. Of our eligible students here at GSCM, 96% applied for EdChoice. To date, 94% of those applications have been processed and approved.
In addition, the new SGO (Scholarship Granting Organization) program in Ohio has expanded GSCM’s ability to offer financial aid and tuition assistance. This program allows individual Ohio tax payers to donate up to $750 ($1500 for a couple) toward a scholarship fund for a particular private school. The taxpayer will then receive a tax credit matching 100% of the donation. The SGO kicked off in October of 2022. In just a few short months GSCM was able to raise over $16,000 to help with financial aid and tuition assistance for families this current school year. With expanded marketing and communication, GSCM has raised over $56,000 in the SGO for this coming school year. Families still have time to donate to the SGO as the deadline is extended to the day before an individual files taxes.
The Archdiocese also announced an expansion of its CEF (Catholic Education Foundation) program, which offers need-based scholarships to families attending Catholic schools. For the 2024-25 school year, the CEF will prioritize families at 649% the poverty level and lower as well as offer scholarships for PRESCHOOL families for the first time. The CEF also offers scholarships to full-time Catholic school staff who send their children to Catholic schools, as well as “Welcome Scholarships” to children who are the first in their family to attend a Catholic school. These opportunities now allow more middle income families to consider private education for their children.
These expanded opportunities for financial support allow GSCM to align tuition more closely to the actual “cost to educate.” It allows us to meet the rising costs of running a school while expanding support to our teachers and staff. Elementary tuition for the 2024-25 school year was set at $9,307 and preschool tuition set at $6,473.
Supporting Faculty and Staff
GSCM has worked over the past two years to increase our lead teacher and assistant teacher salaries to be more competitive, not only to recognize the amazing dedication of our current faculty, but also attract and retain the best educators. Taking a tiered approach, salaries for lead and assistant teachers have increased on an average of 15-16% with an anticipated average of a 10% increase this coming year. In addition GSCM increased its contribution to benefits for staff members who add children, spouse, or family onto medical, dental, and vision insurance.
Thanks to the generosity of our parent community the PTO collected over $6,000 from individual donations and then by matching $5,000 was able to gift each faculty member with a much appreciated Christmas bonus check.
At the 2023 Spring Event, the annual appeal raised over $27,000 to purchase items for teacher wish lists. All teachers were able to submit ideas for items/supplies they desired for their classrooms. Every teacher was given at least half the items on their list. We purchased such items as: a new laminator, a Cricut machine, a new large paper cutter, a color printer for Intervention staff, a new microwave and toaster oven for the faculty lounge, outside benches, music stands, classroom rugs, shelving and storage cabinets, classroom storage items such as folders, baskets, etc., items for a Spanish cart in all classrooms, new gym equipment, new atrium items, etc. Although these are not all large ticket items, they help the teachers to make their environments come alive and allow them to use their creativity in designing the learning space and implementing their curriculum.
In the Spring of 2023, GSCM received a sizable grant from the State of Ohio for safety upgrades around campus. GSCM was able to purchase new AEDs and First aid kits for all campus buildings. These are monitored and restocked regularly by Cintas. In addition, we ordered trauma-go bags, which can be carried in the event of a lockdown or evacuation.
We contracted with Cincinnati Alarm Systems to upgrade the fire alarm systems in the main building and chapel, both of which were outdated and not directly connected to first responders. Cincinnati Fire Alarm installed five new security cameras around the campus that are monitored both in the office and by Anne Marie Vega and Zach Gagel. These cameras record footage up to a month at a time, which can be viewed and shared with local law enforcement if needed.
Other projects in the planning stages are security film for entry way doors and windows, a panic button in the central office, new signage around campus, upgraded lighting, and new chapel doors. We are searching for more funding opportunities for some of these.
Facilities and Campus Improvements
Other improvements to our outdoor campus include a privacy fence along the Berwick south property line. Not only does this help define our property and hide dead brush, it now prevents the many recess and gym balls from disappearing into the ditch!
JK Muerer installed a new curb along Teller Trail to help with water flow and drainage. They also re-grated a portion of the Berwick St. sidewalk to help with water collection and drainage.
The GSCM staff worked diligently this summer to begin a much-needed improvement and expansion of the Intervention program. We were able to hire some amazing and highly qualified staff to lead our RTI (Response to Intervention) program. This program is dedicated to helping teachers work to understand each student and meet individual needs. This process enables lead teachers and other school staff to consult and work together in a comprehensive manner so that individual needs of students are recognized and addressed in a concrete and specific manner. The team has put together a plan to implement goals over the next three years.
It is no secret that the faculty and staff of GSCM are amazing and one of a kind. They are truly dedicated to our students and our families. We celebrate their achievements that pass along to our children. Here are a few highlights:
- Frances Lackney, our Middle School Humanities guide, will complete her Montessori Secondary Training this summer through CGMS (Center for Guided Montessori Studies). She has worked with the Middle school team to review and renew the Middle School schedule to reflect essential principles of Secondary Montessori practice and create an integrated curriculum that inspires independence, autonomy, and valorization.
- LinMarie Cameron, our Upper Elementary Humanities directress, has created a beautiful orchard on the southside of the Bushelman building. Thanks to a generous donation she was able to transform the landscaping in that area and plant apple trees as well as native plants and berry bushes. This enables cross-curricular connections as well as opportunities for students to take part in “real-work” that contributes to the campus and the community.
- Jennifer Borgert, our Art Teacher, welcomed an art intern this Fall. Megan Earley, an IPTI (Intensive Pedagogical Training Institute) art student from Ohio State University, spent several weeks here at GSCM working with Mrs. Borgert. She observed art classes, assisted Mrs. Borgert, and taught several lessons. She enjoyed her time at GSCM and was really impressed with our students and faculty. Here is a note she sent after her first day at school: “I was given a brief tour by two 8th grade students during their lunch, and I was quite impressed by their professionalism, kindness, and in general, all that GSCM has to offer its students. What an incredible place to learn and grow in faith!”
- Sheryl McCarthy, our MS STEM guide, was chosen from many middle school educators around the country to participate in the TII (Teacher Innovator Institute) through the National Air and Space Museum. For the past two years she has participated in professional development with STEM teachers from around the country, visiting Washington DC and focusing on authentic learning, including the incorporation of real-world problems, open-ended inquiry, and hands-on, student-driven practices. The program has also allowed Sheryl to purchase many science materials for the classroom including: a Sphero robot, Pocket labs, Ozobots, Lego sets, Owl Pellets, books, snap circuits, ecology games, model rockets, etc. She has also been able to support field trips for our middle school students to the Air Force Museum.
- Cindy Wurzelbacher, our Lead Atrium Catechist, created beautiful retreats for our 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders using the Theology of the Body Curriculum through Ruah Woods. Although the details and content of each retreat were different, the core teaching of TOB is to gain a deeper understanding of who God is and who we are as image-bearers of God in the modern world. What a more beautiful way to contemplate this message than in the midst of a prayerful retreat.
CGS Formation Courses
The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is one of the aspects of GSCM that sets us apart from other Montessori schools. We were privileged to be host to two different formation courses over the past two years. In school year 22-23 we welcomed 22 individuals from around the country for a Level III formation course. Level III serves children ages 9-12. Dan Teller, along with 2 other national CGS formation leaders, led the course over a series of long weekends. This past summer we hosted a Level II formation course, welcoming 21 individuals from around the country. Level II serves children ages 6-9. That course will conclude this summer with Dan Teller as the formation leader. A thank you to our own catechists, faculty, and Board members for providing hospitality for these courses.
Mary, Queen of Angels–Our Patroness
When GSCM opened 25 years ago, it was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In fact our original name was Queen of Angels Montessori. The Blessed Virgin Mary holds a special place in the history of our school and our story. We hear in Scripture, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). As we reflect on the 25 year history of GSCM and look towards the future, may we ponder all these things in our hearts so that we may continue to unfold God’s plan for our precious school and lead it into its next chapter of growth and development.