by Cori Hilsgen
St. Joseph Catholic School Principal Karl Terhaar said students and staff are focusing on a theme of kindness for the 2019-20 school year.
He said by doing so they “will gain a deeper appreciation of making personal connections and learning the value of seeing everyone as a child of God by taking time to be kind to others.”
This is Terhaar’s 13th year serving as principal at the school so he remains a familiar presence to students, parents and staff.
“I always enjoy spending time with the students,” Terhaar said. “They are a great group of kids who always has funny stories they share with me.”
Many things will stay the same, but the school year will bring a few changes.
A new Spanish teacher, Maureen Frame has joined the staff at the school. Frame previously taught high school Spanish in Indiana before moving to the area.
Second-grade teacher Betty Pundsack, who has been teaching at the school for 42 years, will retire at the end of this school year. She had taught around 800 second-graders during those 42 years.
Many students remember Pundsack for her love of volleyball, softball, cartwheels, teaching J-Term bird classes, bee-keeping, faith formation, kindness to others and much more.
When Pundsack experienced a cardiac event in 2017, three of her former second-grade students helped save her life.
The school is expanding its robotics program and if they have enough interest, will have a team compete at VEX robotics competitions.
Last spring, the school’s Super Hero Day fundraiser raised $1,500 for the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital to support families/children diagnosed with juvenile arthritis. The funds will be used to make children’s hospital stays more comfortable with crafts, games and movies. This year’s Super Hero Day is planned for April 24.
This is the school’s second year of offering qualifying students a chance to advance a grade level in math and several students are participating in seventh-grade math. Teachers are in their second year of writing and implementing their reading and writing targets and scales to improve students’ skills. The school continues to offer services for students with dyslexia.
Terhaar said nine classroom teachers, three specialists and six support staff are employed at the school. Of the nine classroom teachers, eight have their master’s degrees. The classroom teachers average 22 years of teaching experience.
There are currently 36 children enrolled in the preschool program and kindergarten through sixth-grade classes average 15 students each grade.
St. Joseph Catholic School, other area elementary Catholic Schools and Cathedral High School form Catholic Community Schools.
The St. Joseph Catholic School began in 1856 when a log school and church was built in St. Joseph. The current school was built in 1926.