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SAIC: A proud past, a bright future

June 5, 2015
Constance Dalton
SAIC Director of Development

St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception School has always been proud to serve the children of immigrant families. Starting in 1894 with Germans, adding Italians at Immaculate Conception in 1957 and continuing with families from Mexico, Central and South America, Asia and Eastern Europe today, SAIC seeks to empower students from diverse backgrounds to grow as whole persons in the image of Jesus Christ. This is our mission.

From 1894, SAIC has been administered by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. Our students experience a rich academic program and become a dynamic community of believers due to the sisters’ dedication and strength. We are extremely fortunate to have two Dominicans presently teaching third grade and junior high at SAIC. Sister Vanda Symanko is beloved for her reading and art lessons, while Sister Mary Virginia lights the spark of the next generation of writers. Both Sisters catechize in religious education.

We are blessed to have as our current principal, Barbara Moodie. Barbara taught at SAIC for 14 years in the 1980s and ‘90s. For 28 years, she has led choirs and served on the Parish Council and Liturgy Committee at St. Anthony of Padua Parish. We are so grateful that Barbara chose to leave her public school teaching position to return as SAIC’s principal.

In her first year, Barbara has accomplished a great deal. SAIC has a balanced budget, a tribute to any principal! Barbara is continually recruiting new students and planning new programs. An example that SAIC families are looking forward to is the new Spanish program, beginning in the fall quarter of 2015. Recognizing that students are growing up in a global economy that often requires communicating and collaborating with co-workers of different languages, we are planning classes to teach not only conversation, but reading and writing as well.

The faculty and staff take very seriously their responsibility to give SAIC students a 21st-century set of tools. The students use Google Docs for Education as one tool to teach 21st-century skills of creativity, collaboration, and communication. Each student in grades three through eight is given a school email address to communicate with teachers. SAIC, thanks to generous grants, has invested in both iPad Minis and Chromebooks to facilitate the incorporation of technology into the curriculum.

Kindergarten through third grade focuses on basic computer use utilizing programs that reinforce classroom concepts while allowing students to practice basic motor skills. Computer-based programs such as Didi and Ditto, as well as online sites such as Starfall and Mathletics, accomplish this.

Middle grades introduce the students to word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software.

Junior high includes presentations, written reports and other projects. Computer classes include GarageBand, iMovie, and iPhoto. In addition to weekly computer classes, teachers make use of open time in the computer lab to complete various project-based learning assignments. 

Our students are blessed with a great amount of support from our church and the community at large. We continue to enjoy the support of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, including mentoring and professional development. Sister Mary Peter Traviss, OP, the co-founder of the ICEL Program at the University of San Francisco, is a constant resource for principal Moodie, as is Sister Carolyn Marie Monahan, OP, coordinator of Dominicans Sisters of Mission San Jose affiliate schools. Our faculty, staff and students enjoy the ability to visit the Dominican Motherhouse in Fremont and Marywood, the Dominican retreat center in Scotts Valley.

Through the efforts of Vision of Hope, a program to assist Dominican inner city schools started 20 years ago by Sister John Martin Fixa, OP, SAIC receives about $90,000 in support each year.

In addition to this, SAIC is a member of the Alliance of Mission District Catholic Schools. Maureen Huntington, superintendent, the Alliance board and their development director, Gustavo Torres, support Alliance schools through professional development and fundraising. Last year alone, the Alliance gave each of their schools $30,000 in support.

Perhaps our alumni are best at expressing the value of an SAIC education. According to Gabriela Childree (’08), whose mother also graduated from SAIC, our school is “a family she won’t forget,” Currently working on a zoology major, with an internship in Arizona and a job at the San Francisco Zoo under her belt, Gabriela still makes time to visit the SAIC campus and volunteer with her former second grade teacher, Robin Rockey. “SAIC,” she says, “will always feel like home.”

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