Always, we begin again . . .
As St. Joseph School opens the doors on the 68th academic year, it does so with great anticipation for the year to come. A recently unified school of 450 students, coupled with an energetic parent-led community from over 30 communities, under a strengthened leadership team, is poised to flourish.
In 1939, the Sisters of Charity of Halifax came from the Academy of the Assumption in Wellesley Hills to supervise the religious education program of the youth of the St. Joseph Parish. In 1954, Cardinal Cushing granted permission to begin construction of a school building and the sisters began teaching kindergarten and first grade. For almost 70 years, St. Joe's has been a pillar of Catholic education for Needham and its surrounding communities. The school grew quickly from those early elementary school roots, adding a middle school, and later, the Early Childhood Center. While each school operated independently and was respected in its own right, both the parish and the schools of St. Joseph recognized the potential strength of a combined school community spanning preschool to grade eight, leveraging not only the millions of dollars of investment in the campus and facilities, but also the years of experience gained at St. Joe's over the past seven decades.
Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, in the midst of the pandemic and following a successful remote school period, St. Joe's embarked on the bold task of integrating all three school communities -- combining the early childhood, elementary, and middle schools into one, unified school -- St. Joseph School (preschool to grade eight). This integration was no small feat and would not have been possible without the strong leadership of Lauren Solomon, principal of the newly combined school. A community-builder by nature, Mrs. Solomon has a powerful vision for the combined St. Joseph School. "Our new unified school, preschool to grade eight, will be a place of academic rigor, deep faith, and supportive teachers and staff. I am deeply committed to improving and shaping the curricula at our school."
And now, St. Joseph School is pleased to announce the selection of Mr. Ian Snyder to serve as the first head of school. Mr. Snyder comes to SJS from St. Patrick Academy, an independent preschool-to-grade-eight private Catholic school located in Portsmouth N.H., where he served as dean of students and school operations. Mr. Snyder's selection as head of school is the result of a thorough and inclusive search process conducted by the school's Search Committee. While the Search Committee was very impressed with Mr. Snyder's qualifications for the role, it was his ability to make strong connections with the community, as evidenced by the enthusiastic response from his visit to the campus, that confirmed that he is the best person to lead the school. Mr. Snyder has a special passion for Catholic education and leadership, having been deeply influenced by his Benedictine undergraduate experience and the formative relationships he developed with the monastic community at St. Anselm Abbey. According to Mr. Snyder, "As a spiritual leader, I rely heavily on the tenets of Benedictine spirituality: stability, balance (work and prayer), reflection, and the ever-constant pursuit of seeking God in all things."
Mr. Snyder, with strong support from Father Bryan K. Parrish, the pastor, will usher St. Joseph School into the next chapter and new beginning. Emerging from a global pandemic, a period of transition, and an institutional merger, Mr. Snyder and Mrs. Solomon lead with a new perspective and a fresh start -- respecting the lessons of yesterday but acknowledging the power in learning from mistakes. A new opportunity awaits us tomorrow. What a powerful message to share with the children of St. Joseph School. Through the inspiration of St. Antony of Egypt, we will embrace the new beginning that each day presents and the opportunities that we have been afforded. "Always, we begin again . . ."
TORI BANU IS DIRECTOR OF MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS (TBANU@ST.JOES.COM) AT ST. JOSEPH SCHOOL IN NEEDHAM, A CO-EDUCATIONAL CATHOLIC SCHOOL SERVING STUDENTS FROM PRESCHOOL THROUGH GRADE EIGHT.