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Mr. Hick's Back to School Letter 18-19

Welcome...and Welcome Back - 2018-2019

I hope your summer has been a good one.  Okay, it’s not over yet, so I’m going to try not to sound too much like it is, even though I have to talk about school.  

When you return to school at the end of this l-o-n-g month (I’m trying), you will see some big changes. I’ll outline those changes for you in this communication, but first I would like to offer a sincere welcome and welcome back.

To our returning families, we are excited to have you come and meet our new staff members and tour our significantly upgraded building, especially the Lower Level. It’s been a busy summer filled with a lot of positive changes. Can’t wait for you to see them. I’ll briefly describe them in this communication.

To all of our new families, I offer a very warm welcome. It’s always exciting and enriching to bring new people into our school family. I hope you all find this to be a very good place for you and your child/children. We will be working very hard to validate your decision to enroll at St. Joseph Consolidated School. We take the trust you place in us very seriously. Our objective is clear: we strive to provide every child in our care with what he/she needs to grow and develop into a person of good character, strong faith, and well-prepared academically for a demanding, ever-changing world.  That’s a big, big job, but it gets us up everyday ready to do whatever is required to succeed. A plaque I found in one of our classrooms (Mrs. Schroeder, Art) I think sums it up well: “A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind, touches a heart, and shapes the future.” Thank you for giving us the chance to make that happen for your child.

To our new staff members, I can’t wait for you to meet the families in our school community. I am confident that you have not worked with better families. In 2019, we will celebrate our 150th anniversary. I think it’s important to note that we have not merely survived for 150 years, we’ve been going strong and will continue to do so. It has a lot to do with the fact that we have great families coming from strong Catholic communities: St. Joseph and St. Aloysius (our primary partners) and surrounding ones as well. We also have wonderful families from other faiths, who share our values and want what we have to offer there children. These are the people I’m excited for you to meet.

Now, let me talk about changes…



With the departure of Mr. Fields (Music), Mrs. Turner (Grade 4), and Mrs. Prough (Grade 6-8), I worked hard during the month of July searching for high-caliber teachers who would fit well into our school culture. I am delighted to have succeeded in that search and happy to give them this opportunity to introduce themselves to you:

KELLY VALE  - Grade 4

Hi, I am Kelly Vale and I am so excited to be joining the St. Joseph’s community! I grew up in Cincinnati, attending St. John the Baptist and McAuley High School. After attending Ohio University and receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, I decided to spread my wings. I have since lived in Las Vegas and Dallas, and most recently, Scottsdale, Arizona. When I was in Dallas, I had the pleasure of being an editor for a publication for the Dallas Morning News. It was in this position, through covering events at local schools, that I caught the teaching bug. When I moved to Arizona I attended Grand Canyon University and received my Masters in Elementary Education.

After so many years away from home, I decided it was time to come back. It has been a dream of mine to teach at a Catholic school, and I feel so lucky to be teaching at St. Joseph’s. I am looking forward to working in a faith community. I know that Catholic education helped shape me into the person I am today, and I want to share that my students.

I believe that respect and trust are the keys to opening a world of learning to students. I strive to create a classroom that is welcoming and fun, and that is a safe space where students know that it is okay to make mistakes. I am an avid reader, and I love to share my enthusiasm for reading with my students. I can’t wait to see what this year brings!

Adam Walusis - Grade 6 (6-8 Science)

Hi, I am Adam Walusis and I am very excited to be the new 6th grade/science teacher at St. Joseph Consolidated School. I grew up in Buffalo, New York and came to this area to attend college at the University of Dayton (Go Flyers!). I attended  UD in the Marianist Scholar Program and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. I earned the Praxis Excellence Award, having passed the State of Ohio Praxis tests for new teachers in the Top 15%.

I taught at Resurrection School in Price Hill for two years and at Stanley Falk School in Buffalo, New York for a year. I love reading, writing, and critical thinking and hope to impart those loves to my students. I am also excited to again be at a place where we can freely practice and teach our Catholic faith. I look forward to meeting everybody!

Krissty Monnig  - Music

Hello, my name is Krissty Monnig and I am looking forward to teaching General Music at St. Joseph Consolidated School.  I am a Miami University Graduate and have a degree in Instrumental Music Education with ten years of experience in teaching General Music.  I have always loved music and started learning how to play music when I was eight years old! My various performing experiences include: High School and College Marching Bands, Cincinnati Youth Symphony Orchestra, College Wind Ensembles, State level Honor Bands, Military Base Band, and various mixed ensembles.  Currently, I play flute for special services at St. John the Baptist Parish of Harrison, Ohio, where my family and I are members. I have lived in Bright, Indiana where my kids currently attend East Central High School, and in my spare time, I enjoy sewing, reading, painting along with visiting friends and relatives.

I can't wait to meet all of the students and parents of St. Joseph School.  It will be a privilege to share my joy of learning music with those students and their families.     

Building Changes & Improvements

Preschool - the Catalyst of Change: As you may know, we have been working on a plan to add a preschool for the past several years. We have a plan in place and are moving forward rapidly to implement it. We will be ready to enroll students for the 2019-2020 school year in December-January. While not “officially” on board yet (a paperwork thing), Katie Zboril has accepted our offer to be our new preschool teacher. Mrs. Zboril will be a great addition to our staff, and preschool will be a great addition to our program. I’ll have much more to say about preschool going forward.

Creating a space for preschool was a catalyst for several other changes in our building. Here’s a summary of what changed/moved:

  • The Computer Lab moved to the Library. We now have a Library-Media Center.
  • The Lower Level Intervention Room and conference table moved to the 1st Floor occupying the space that once held the Computer Lab.
  • The Art/Music Room moved across the hall on the Lower Level into the space that once held the Intervention Room.
  • The space that was once the Art/Music Room is now (at last!) our new Preschool Room. We’re ready to go! (Help us spread the word!)

This shuffling of rooms required us to add to our usual list of summer projects. The results are dramatic. A summary follows:

Auditorium Windows - If you close your eyes and think hard, you can probably visualize those auditorium windows with the two boarded up airconditioners and that humongous exhaust fan. Both were relics of a bygone era. You can see them, can’t you? From down below, looking up, you probably didn’t see that the wood frames on those windows were slowly rotting away. Replacing those windows has been on the “Wish List” for a long time. We’ll, they’re gone. The Rapien Brothers came back in June and did their glassblock magic once again.  The improvement is dramatic and impact on the energy bill will be positive. And we won’t have to keep explaining what that giant fan was all about.

Lower Level Floors - Thanks to some very, very generous donations, the floors on the Lower Level (Cafeteria, hall, Art/Music Room, and new Preschool Room) have been replaced with new rubber flooring. The change is amazing. They are not only beautiful, they are extremely functional. Because they are solid rubber, spills clean up easily, they are very comfortable to walk on, and have a noticable dampening effect on sound. A damaged piece can easily be replaced. Thanks again to Steve and Dan Unger of Hamilton Hardwood Floors for helping us upgrade our floors throught the building. (All that remains is the auditorium, and we’re looking at that.)

Plumbing Repairs -  Parent/contractor Dave Kent and his workers spent considerable time with us this summer helping us upgrade our plumbing and adding some new fixtures. The items they worked on were:

  • Drain lines for the 1st Floor Boy’s Restroom. The old cast iron pipes were removed (Wow, that was a job!) and were replaced with new PVC lines. No more leakes.
  • Sinks and tops were replaced in the area that is now our new Preschool Room (the old Art/Music Room).
  • The drain problem in the Lower Level Restroom (now the Preschool Restroom) was repaired and two new toilets (one adult, one small child) were installed.
  • A new sink was installed in the Art/Music Room (the old Intervention Room) to provide water for Art classes.  

Painting -  With their rollers, pans and brushes in constant motion, Bob and Kevin kept busy staying ahead of the flooring crew.  They have repainted almost every wall on the Lower Level. The new blue color in the hall is particularly nice (my opinion). The Preschool, Kindergarten, Art/Music and Cafeteria look great too. They did paint over “my” purple stripes, but they were of questionable artistic value (so I’m told).  

Blacktop Coating - Lundsford Paving returned this summer to apply a protective coating to the front and rear blacktop areas. This will extend the life of those surfaces.

Technology Upgrade

New Server - Whether you’re an individual, institution,  business, or government, the threat of cyber attacks has simply become part of everyday life. A couple of years back, we experienced such an attack on our server and lost some valuable files. This summer, another elementary school in the Archdiocese (on the East side) suffered and attack that cost them dearly in lost files. To protect us from this increasing challenge, we have chosen to move our server off site to a more protected environment. Bob Pahls (E-Tech Associates), our tech support resource, has worked with the staff at SWOCA (Southwest Ohio Computer Association) to house our server within their protected (and backed-up) environment and remote it to us via our fiber optic internet cable. It took a little while this summer to work out the kinks, but we’re up and seem to be running smoothly. We have to pay for this service (using State/Federal funds), but the cost is very reasonable considering the risk.

Here We Go!

Except for a little more putting things back together again, we’re ready to go. I look forward to another exciting and productive school year. I hope to see you on the 15th for our school supply drop off celebration.         

And I hope you enjoy the remaining days of summer.



Bill Hicks