July 2017

Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s):

It is with great pride and excitement that I begin my fourth year as Principal of St. Mary’s School.  I am honored to continue my role as school leader and to work with you as a partner in education to ensure that your child(ren) are successful.  I anticipate a very productive year as my team and I support the academic, spiritual and emotional growth of every student here at St. Mary’s School. Along with faculty and staff, I will continue my dedication to expand on our great legacy within Prince George’s County and the Archdiocese of Washington.  As always, we will need your support and the guidance of St. Mary and the Holy Spirit.

In July, we hosted our third year of summer school for students needing additional support in math and reading. We are currently finishing our final week and I am grateful for all the hard work of the teachers and students this summer. I am confident these students will benefit from their hard work and dedication. All of our efforts and strategies have been developed and implemented with one goal in mind. We continuously utilize our data and team observations to make improvements in being as effective as possible with improving student outcomes. We are inching our way closer to becoming a “Blue Ribbon School,” and I believe, with some slight modifications and an amazing staff, we can achieve that great accomplishment. With guidance from the Archdiocese of Washington, our faculty and staff have worked hard to design math/reading levels for students in grades fourth through eighth. These students will be grouped according to level as opposed to age.  This change will aid our teachers in truly meeting students where they are based on skill and ability and will have a profound effect on student engagement and success.

As always, the new school year will bring some changes to our staff.  Ms. Hawkins (Kindergarten), Ms. Zuniga (First Grade), Ms. Whissel (Second Grade), Ms. Fenstermaker (Third Grade), Ms. Dhanagom (Technology) and Mr. Tate (P.E.) will be moving on to other schools. We wish them the very best with their future endeavors! I am extremely excited about our 2017-2018 squad.   Mrs. Quandra Gaskins will be the new Kindergarten teacher. She has ten years of teaching experience and is joining us from St. Mary’s of the Mills. Mrs. Gaskins has a Masters of Art from the Academy of Art University and is currently working on a Masters of Education from the Notre Dame of Maryland University. Ms. Emily Kogut will be teaching First Grade this year. Ms. Kogut has five year of experience in teaching in Catholic schools and is joining us from St. Augustine Catholic School in D.C. She has a Bachelor of Arts from The Catholic University of America.  Dr. Liesel Lashley will become our new Second Grade teacher.  Dr. Lashley worked as a Para-educator this past year and did an amazing job. Dr. Lashley has a Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from Howard University.  Ms. Nicole Wright will teach Physical Education. Ms. Wright has a Masters of Arts in Interdisciplinary Art Infusion from Towson University. We are in the process of hiring a new Third Grade teacher and Technology teacher.  We are very excited about our new team members. Please be sure to give them each a great St. Mary’s welcome when school begins this fall!

In preparation for the upcoming school year, we are making several improvements to the facility. We can thank Fr. Evelio for his encouragement to dispose of the carpets in the classrooms and have new floors installed. We have just started this process and the floors look amazing. We will also add a tile floor to the lobby and try some new colors on the main floor hallway. If you have driven past the school/church, you will notice the new parking lot. I would like to thank Deacon Robinson for all of his hard work to make this happen. We had our main waterline (from the road to the building) replaced and we’re still working through some minor issues; but, this major repair should prevent us from having ruptures in the water line.  Once all the work is completed, I am confident that our old building will shine once again!

I want to encourage all new families, as well as our current families, to attend our Open House on Thursday, August 24, beginning at 9:00 a.m. in the gym and followed by visits to the classroom and ending at 10:00 a.m.  You will have an opportunity to meet the faculty and staff and have any last minute questions answered.

It promises to be another busy year with many new challenges. Enjoy the remaining days of summer. If you have any questions please call, email, or stop by.  I look forward to seeing you soon! Stay cool and God Bless!


Chris Buchleitner