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Educated in Faith

At St. Francis of Assisi, the primary focus of formation is the education of families in the Catholic faith and the development of faithful followers of Jesus Christ. Two keystones of these faith formation programs are the St. Francis of Assisi Preschool and The Franciscan School (TFS), the Kindergarten through 8th grade school on our campus. Both schools just kicked off the new school year, and look forward to another great year of faith, academics, and service to the community.

Heidi Hobler is the preschool director and speaks of her school’s important role in formation: “I see the preschool’s role in developing the faith of students and staff as very important. The preschool is an extension of the church community. The school provides an opportunity to practice and demonstrate what is proclaimed at mass every weekend; our school should serve as a model for what it means to be a follower of Christ. Staff are passing on the richness of our faith to their students and are modeling it for them, each other, and the larger community.” The Franciscan School’s principal, Dawn Smith, wholeheartedly agrees: “As faculty, we should build relationships and make meaningful connections with students and their families. We hope to help each student become confident, caring, resourceful, and Christ-filled. The school is instrumental in developing all to become more Christ-like.”

A new school year always brings changes and new opportunities. In the preschool, Heidi is excited about a new program: “We have opened a new toddler class which will serve children ages 18-23 months one morning per week. It is similar to a ‘Moms Morning Out’ program but somewhat of an extension of Cross Step, the faith formation program offered during Sunday morning mass. It allows us to engage families earlier in their children’s educational journeys and faith development.” The program has been well received and already has a waitlist!  At TFS, there are several middle school programs that Dawn is excited about. “We are continuing to grow our Middle School Advisory program,” she says, “with advisory held twice a week.” She points out as well that “the new middle school counselor is working with faculty to design programming to help address the needs of our middle school students. Advisory will be a time for relationship building, community engagement, and personal development.” Another programming highlight she is proud of is the incorporation of the ‘five pillars of our athletic standards.’ “These pillars,” she emphasizes, “are Accountability, Appreciation, Servanthood, Respect, and Humility and will be key aspects to developing our student-athletes as an extension of their role as a student.”

Both schools have had strong enrollment over the years, adding to their ability to be great resources for family faith formation at St. Francis. At TFS, Mrs. Smith points out, “Our enrollment continues to be strong. We have surpassed our budgeted (enrollment) goal and are at capacity in four out of nine grades. As families continue to move to the area, our school generates high interest in those families due to our large size, excellent instructional offerings, extracurriculars and athletics, and strong community.”  Heidi also has solid enrollment at the ‘traditional norm’ of pre-COVID levels. “Enrollment is healthy overall, with some classes being full or nearly full,” she says but adds, “There are still some openings!” Families with preschool children looking for a great option still have an opportunity.

Looking ahead to all they hope to accomplish this year, both leaders have a vision for the future. “I hope to continue to expand upon the foundation that we already have in place for growing kind, compassionate, and caring little people,” says Mrs. Hobler, “I hope to continue to support teachers and families in making sure that all of our children are on a strong path for their educational and faith journeys. We are blessed to be able to partner with parents at the very beginning of these journeys.” Dawn envisions that “TFS will continue to be a safe and welcoming school for all student learners and their families. I want to ensure we retain the school’s high-quality faculty whose dedication to assisting our students in their learning and faith journey is unparalleled.”

Strong schools with dedicated families and highly skilled faculty and staff are essential to building strong students. St. Francis of Assisi is fortunate to have two such schools developing academically proficient students with a strong foundation in faith and service to others, a Franciscan tradition!

Author: Mike Watson