Principal Linda McCotter has been involved in Catholic education since 1989. Now in her third year at St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School, one of the areas she puts a lot of time into is the delegation of the fundraising coordination to the parents of the students, who volunteer their time and skills for the several fundraisers that the school holds throughout the year.
Last year, the school raised approximately $100,000 in funds. The PTG (Parent Teacher Group) consists of a lot of hardworking people, McCotter, said, all focusing on the benefit for not only the students of St. Peter’s, but the local community.
“What I see here at St. Peter’s that is very different from my past experience is that the parents are passionate about quality education,” said McCotter, adding that most families that attend the school are of the Catholic faith. “There is a very strong Faith focus, and the children even go and teach the parents more about Catholicism.”
McCotter is proud that the students at St. Peter’s are able to recite traditional Catholic prayers, which affirms they are self-assured in their faith.
“Infused with this foundation, we also focus on the children being leaders,” she said. The ‘LEADERS’ acronym is the school motto:
• Life Long Learners
• Self Confident
McCotter said she is also proud to report that there are no serious behavioral issues with any of the students, and attributes this pattern to high standards set in place by the pastor and the Catholic diocese, tough discipline, and the circle of expectations that flows from pastor, to teacher, to student. In addition, safety on campus is very sophisticated in regard to topics such as emergency and lockdown drills, and has a great reputation with local authorities.
Recent improvements to the campus include a playground renovation which took place last summer. Funds of $20,000 were raised in one evening for the project, as well as a matching sum from a local parishioner’s will. Some of the improvements include soccer facilities, basketball and pickleball courts, and a shaded picnic area.
The accountability that the school abides by is very detailed and diligently applied, McCotter said. One of the main focuses is the analysis of the tests that are given to the students. Although there is a lot of attention towards individual performance and expectations concerning each child, there is also a thorough evaluation of the curriculum that is presented throughout the year. Each subject is reviewed in a cycle. Every five years the instructional materials of a certain subject are examined and improved if necessary. Parents are given the results of the changes immediately.
This year, the science program is up for review. According to McCotter, the school strives for more than STEM program and Common Core standards, which are still part of the curriculum.
The math classes offered at St. Peter’s are accelerated, including leveled math in the 6th to 8th grades. This type of math lets the teacher decide if each student is ready for algebra, which is a developmental skill. The student takes a placement test, and either stays where he is at that level of aptitude, or is able to join a higher level of algebra. There is also a 25 IMAC computer lab available to all of the small class sizes – kindergarten through eighth grade.
The Learning Beyond Textbooks Program is an enrichment course aimed at inspiring future Catholic leaders. For one hour each month parishioners who are experienced in a type of career or hobby (pre-approved by administrators) teach the children about that subject. Past speakers have included a scuba diver, a pilot, and a presentation on how to crochet.
Some of the extra-curricular classes include after school sports, with a student golf program scheduled to begin soon. After school band is also offered. In May, an outdoor education camp is offered through the YMCA, and is held in Julian. Also in May, a parent from UCSD will assist fifth and seventh graders with the experience of dissecting a pig.
Students from the school have won awards and honors in the recent Academic Decathlon Competition for the Diocese of San Diego, Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair, and the Fallbrook Art Center’s Wildlife Art Show.
St. Peter’s has a preschool program that accepts two year olds who are still in diapers and welcomes families from all religions to enroll their children. The curriculum includes art and sensory, math, science, and language activities.
Numerous fundraising events, including an art auction, are held throughout the year and McCotter said that all community members are encouraged to attend.
McCotter said the passion of the teachers, pastors and parents helps prepare the students for any opportunity that comes their way. With a strong core group of parents who have “attitude with gratitude,” the support system of St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School has helped students excel academically and socially.
To learn more, or to take a free tour, stop by St. Peter the Apostle Catholic School at 450 South Stage Coach Lane Fallbrook; call (760) 689-6250 or visit www.spacschool.com. Preschool through eighth grade students accepted.