St. Francis of Assisi School first opened its doors on February 13th, 1951. Pastor, Monsignor Joseph Schaeffner, Principal, Sr. Mary Diana, and a staff of the Sisters of St. Dominic began their work of growing a new school. Within a few years, a full building of students emerged along with a full schedule of spiritual, academic, and extracurricular activities. An award-winning Fife and Drums Corps became a particular source of school and parish pride. In all 6 Dominican principals actively led the school for the next 38 years.
In 1989, Mrs. Barbara McArdle became the first lay principal to follow in the rich traditions that had been established at St. Francis of Assisi School Times were changing, and Mrs. McArdle had challenges to face, including a declining enrollment and few, if any, teaching sisters to staff the school. Under Mrs. McArdles direction, SFA added new programs, including Toddler Time, Preschool, and a UPK program which increased enrollment. In addition, the school library, dedicated to Monsignor Thomas Campbell, was renovated and relocated to the second floor of the building. In 1982, St. Francis of Assisi School was accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission for Elementary Schools. In 1995, SFAs first fully networked computer lab was funded by generous parishioners, and the age of technology was secured at St. Francis of Assisi School. Internet access, a school website (www.sfaschool.org), and significant technological advancements followed. A need for stricter Health and Safety Regulations became evident and St. Francis of Assisi acquired a full-time school nurse and installed security cameras at key locations. A Science Lab was built to meet NYS curriculum requirements and Title I Reading, Math, and Social Services were granted. Alumni from almost all graduating classes happily celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Parish.
At the end of the 2009-2010 school year, Mrs. Barbara McArdle retired as principal after serving the school for 21 years. Ms. Anne Stefano was hired as principal. During the 2010-2011 school year, the school celebrated 60 years of existence and marked the occasion with a beautiful Anniversary Mass. Due to a Trans Video Communications technology prize-winning grant, Title IID funding, and generous benefactors, 6 new Smartboards were purchased for classroom use. The UPK renewal application was submitted and approved for the next 3 school years with an additional 2-year extension option. Marketing initiatives were significantly improved. Due to an increase in enrollment, SFA opened a second Kindergarten class for the 2011-2012 school year. Also in 2011-2012 school year, the DOB Catholic Identity Assessment Process was completed and a new mission statement was celebrated. It states, the mission of St. Francis of Assisi School is to form, inform, and transform ourselves through Christ to be active members of Catholic Community and dedicated scholars who serve all of society. In addition, Yale Universitys approved Emotional Literacy Program, The Ruler Approach, was added to our curriculum and a comprehensive Title I AARA Library and Differentiated Instructional Materials were loaned to us. An additional instructional day was added to our Title I Math Program.
In 2012-2013 Teacher Professional Development surged forth in preparation for the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards. One group of teachers became members of Johns University Curriculum Leadership Team, another group helped integrate Technology across the curriculum. Our Faculty Professional Learning Community flourished. A CTN DeSales Media Grant created a school wide wifi environment and an LTG provided access to online learning programs, such as, Project TIPS and Writing Matters. Smartboards are being used in Gr. K-8 classrooms and the use of laptops and iPads is an ordinary occurrence.
During the 2013-2014 school year, SFA extended its school day for Gr. 3-8 and opened a second Preschool for registration. Beginning in September, 2013 a new Values and Vision statement was launched to further support our school mission and create a CARING environment for all of our school members. In 2014-2015, SFA continued to build its Early Childhood Programs, developed its K-8 student-centered environment, and began to create a true Professional Learning Center for our Faculty members. During the 2015-2016 school year, SFA will open an additional first grade, offer online learning programs in ELA and math, and celebrate our church’s 85th anniversary. During the 2016-2017 school year, St. Francis of Assisi School made the transition to St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Academy.
Today, the graduates of St. Francis of Assisi School receive the rich Gospel values, extensive knowledge, and essential skills that can enable them to be productive and influential Catholic citizens of our global world. The warm, energetic spirit of the Sisters of St. Dominic, and a strong academic and personal environment, continues to flourish at St. Francis of Assisi School.