brooklyn catholic academies deserve a second look

There have been a lot of changes for Catholic schools in Brooklyn over the last couple of years. They are moving away from parish schools and becoming Catholic Academies. This is a new management structure. An Academy will have a Board of Directors made up of community members, business people and educators. The Parish priests do have a significant role, but it is not as central as before. The principal and teachers will be hired brand new and the Academy has more of an outward reach than a parish institution.

I have seen project based learning, interesting partnerships and grants, strong and creative use of technology, moderate student:teacher ratios, nicely stocked classrooms, with desks in groups. The uniforms are still there and religious education is a central part of the curriculum. A big surprise for many families is the tuition - a parent moving to Brooklyn asked if the elementary school was a half day. She just couldn't believe the number. There are also sibling discounts at most of these schools. Among a segment of the parents-of-twins community, Catholic Academies are the Holy Grail for early childhood (so to speak). Many of the schools have preschool threes AND fours and continue coed through 8th grade. There are also many famous and well regarded single sex Catholic high schools in NYC. There are some terrific and exciting educational leaders taking these schools to the next level.

St. Joseph the Worker was formed when the schools from Holy Name and Immaculate Heart of Mary merged into a new academy in Windsor Terrace. I was thrilled with the energy and growth I saw there. The Principal, Robert DiNardo, is leading a team of new and experienced teachers with robust programs and lots of staff development. I begin to sound like a broken record, but I couldn't believe the changes that I saw in the building in a couple short years. I have rarely seen such a well stocked preschool and the fours classrooms were alive with theme based projects.

St. Saviour in Park Slope next to Methodist Hospital was the first of the schools in this neighborhood to become an academy so they have a couple of years development on the others. St. Saviour is coed through 8th grade but continues as a very well regarded girls high school. Maura Lorenzen, a former educator/administrator at Beth Elohim's Early Childhood Center is the Principal and she has brought a more progressive approach to the project based learning there.

St. Francis Xavier in Park Slope on President St. is led by Dorothy Taylor. She has many innovative ideas for the the sprawling facility and the early childhood programs have been booming in recent years with the addition of several classrooms for threes.

There are many other Catholic programs blooming in many different neighborhoods in Brooklyn including:
Queen of All Saints in Ft. Greene (not yet an academy)
Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy in Williamsburg
St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy