School News

Celebrating 50 years of Catholic school excellence

Dear Families,

We are off to a full start for the 20-21 school year. I continue to be very proud of our students, faculty, and staff who continue to learn and push themselves during these challenging times. The learning curve is accelerated but no one moves away from the challenge but meets it head on to grow and flourish. There is true grit at St. Mary's Catholic School!

As all of you know as we enter the school year, we do so on a monumental anniversary year. Upon reflection of our year of jubilee, we place ourselves parallel with the challenges the Sisters of the Holy Spirit and the community faced 50 years ago in relocating Sacred Heart School to what is now what we know St. Mary's Catholic School.

I am in awe of the symbolic reference and connection the beginning days had on the challenges we face today 50 years later. The references, similarities, and the spirit strong and very much so driven by the same passion that this special place, school is built on.

It has been a tremendous blessing to be connected to (Sr.) Ms. Antoinette Connaughton and Mr. John Barreda ( Mr. B) during the pandemic. Both instrumental in the growth and advancement in our school during different times and both holding a very special place in their hearts for St. Mary's.

At our Back to School Mass, I had the humble honor of interviewing the first principal, Ms. Connaughton. I was in complete awe of the passion, heart, and excitement she felt so deeply for the work that was started in 1970 and continues today.

During the brief interview, she spoke of the importance of instilling and modeling the faith in action as the core of the school. With this deep connection with the students came the call to be disciples of Christ and become leaders. Leadership was a key point in the foundation of the school. It was a solid call that all of the students responded in one shape or form. She shared the concept of leadership was repeatedly highlight to students. Over the years, she has been blessed to witness and see the fruits within, throughout, and beyond the community with her past students taking on leadership roles. Alumni of St. Mary's continue to build on the seed that was planted and be leaders in providing service through leadership.

Service she shared was another seed planted and that students in so many ways were taught to always be mindful of their neighbors and take action. Service remains grounded in the foundation of our school. She proudly shares the creation of the Mission Bag to assist the poor areas in Matamoros in the early years and how eager the community of St. Mary's responded to help one another.

What a blessing all of us have to continue to build upon the many years of excellence, a passion of love of the faith, and our God. As we continue working together through these challenging times, we know that with God and as a community all is possible. I hold fast the words shared by Ms. Connaughton ( Sr. Anntoinette) to me in a very special text along with prayers and blessings, " Think about how it was 50 years ago and we survived. You will overcome even more and continue flourishing..."

Catholic School Strong! May the good Lord and Our Blessed remain with us and be our guide.

In Christ,

Mrs. Ana E. Gomez, M.Ed.



Return to School Annoucement

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville has announced that Bishop Daniel Flores in collaboration with our County Judge, Eddie Trevino, has approved our return to in-person learning effective September 28, 2020.

As we slowly see private, charter and public schools in the state of Texas returning to campus many steps of preparation have been in place to protect the health, well-being, and safety of all students, faculty, staff, their families, and the community. It is a deep collaboration with our families to carry out all that is needed to promote behaviors that mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, maintain a healthy environment, maintain healthy operations and respond to the needs of our community.

Our Return to School plan is rooted in a framework complies with recommendations made by the CDC, TCCB-ED ( Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops Education Department), TEPSAC ( Texas Private School Accreditation Association), Diocese of Brownsville and the local health authority. The plan will be an appendix to our 20-21 Parent-Student Handbook. It will be posted on our website for reference and a link below will provide with our plan.

Prior to the 28th of September, we will host a virtual Parent Meeting and provide the community videos to review policies and procedures. Dates and times are included within this newsletter publication as well as an information video to begin and continue conversations with your children. See the link below.

As the valley in south Texas continues to work through this time, the Return to School Plan is a working document that may be amended to meet the needs of the community. When changes are made, families will be notified and advised.

We thank all of our families for their support and compliance as we work together to keep each other safe.

Coronavirus Workplace Safety
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Learning Option Decision Form

With the opening of in-person instruction, our families have the option to continue to receive instruction remotely throughout our Distance Learning Program. Students will continue to follow a daily schedule from their teachers and work both synchronously and asynchronously.

We know that our families have many things to consider in making this decision. Keeping all factors in play, a student with underlying medical conditions or other concerns for vulnerable family members may need to be addressed at this time. To assist with this, attached you will find a Back to School Decision Checklist provided by the CDC. Families are asked to click the decision form below to complete. We ask that one be completed for each child enrolled at St. Mary's Catholic School.

We ask that families respond to the form by Wednesday, September 23rd so that arrangements and plans may continue as we head towards the opening date for in-person and those who remain online.

Thank you for your cooperation!

Counselor's Corner : Online Learning and Computer Ergonomics

Online learning has become a new normal for our children at many schools around the country. Whether they are sitting in front of a computer doing formal online learning or working independently on their devices, it's important for children of all ages and sizes to maintain good posture while doing educational activities at home. Proper posture helps to protect a child's growing spine and joints.

Here are some tips for keeping children's bodies safe while they focus on their work.

  1. Follow the same posture rules as those for adults. Children should sit with their elbows, hips, and knees all bent at a 90-degree angle. Their feet should never dangle but should be propped up on a firm surface. Screens or reading material should be directly in front of them, about an arm's length away, and at eye level to avoid looking down too much and straining their neck muscles.

  2. Use props to make adjustments. Most furniture is not built with kids' proportions in mind. If you don't have child-size desks, chairs, and tables in your home, work with what you have. A box or laundry basket can provide a footrest to ensure their feet are supported on a firm surface. A binder resting on a pillow becomes an improvised lap desk. Pillows on a chair can raise kids up to the proper height, while also providing them with a more mobile sitting surface that helps them engage their bodies and focus on their position.

  3. Encourage frequent breaks. Adults generally can sit for 30 minutes or more without getting restless, but children need to switch things up much more often. Remind them to switch up their positions every 10-15 minutes. Build breaks for movement into the daily routine. Taking scheduled breaks helps children to self-regulate, gives them the physiologic benefits of movement, and helps them avoid getting to the point of frustration.

  4. Mix up their positions. As anyone who's spent time around a child knows, they're often found in poses that would not appeal to most adults. If they want to work independently by laying on their stomachs, kneeling on the floor at a coffee table, or sitting on the floor and leaning against the wall with their legs straight out in front of them, encourage it. Just make sure their reading or writing materials are properly positioned to avoid neck strain.

  5. Get creative. If your child has a hard time sitting still, let them work while standing up, with their homework taped to the wall. Tape a coloring sheet on the underside of a coffee table so they can work laying on their backs.

Remaining safe at home is a new challenge for everyone. Your children miss their friends, their teachers, and their daily routine. Remember that everyone is in the same situation, so spend time together and acknowledge the positives, rather than stressing about things that are not under your control. Give yourself—and them—permission to be flexible and let some things go.

Even before online learning, there is a significant increase in the daily use of digital devices like tablets, desktops, laptops, and smartphones. Using devices for learning, work, socializing or entertainment, has become an integral part of the life of every individual. Here are a few simple exercises we can use when we spend time using our electronic devices.

Dr. Clara Magallanes


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Learning Community- We Celebrate!

St. Mary's Catholic School has been blessed for the last 50 years with dedicated, passionate, hard-working Catholic school teachers.

The team is always striving to learn, innovate, inspire and engage students. The dedication demonstrated by the our current faculty and staff has been beyond measure. The have tracked hundreds of hours in professional development taking courses, webinars, attending conferences in the areas of social-emotional learning, Google, Flipgrid, Screencastify, Seesaw, literacy, early childhood, reading/math strategies and the list goes on. The eagerness to learn, share, and demonstrate has been non-stop.

Along with this professional development, the teachers are always encouraged to continue their education beyond a bachelor's in a related or desired field. We are so proud to announce that Mrs.Ale Rico has done just that. Mrs. Rico is an alumnus and product of Catholic education with a great passion for learning, kids, and sharing her faith. We are proud that Mrs. Rico is part of our team.

In December of 2019, Mrs. Rico graduated with a Master's Reading and Literacy/Digitial Literacy from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Within her studies, she also authored a chapter in "Literacy Foundations for English Learners".

We are proud of Mrs. Rico and celebrate her great accomplishment!

We also celebrate our faculty that received their service pins on September 8th during our opening Diocesan Mass with Bishop Daniel Flores. Their many years of service to the Diocese are appreciated and we thank them for their dedication in the ministry of Catholic education.

Jose Robert Moreno - 5 years

Carolina Cazares - 5 years

Carmina Gonzalez - 10 years

Angelica Camarillo - 10 years

Brisia Kobayashi - 20 years

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Congratulations to our New National Elementary Honor Society Members

Our foundation is also built upon academic excellence. The John J. Fitzgerald Chapter of the National Elementary Honor Society is a cornerstone within our school that allows students recognition and a platform to continue developing and upholding the high standards of scholarship, responsibility, service, and leadership.

Students must maintain an A average in core areas and complete an application process to be accepted into the honor society.

We are excited to induct our new members virtually on Thursday, September 24th at 6 p.m.

We thank our students and their families for their patience as the application process occurred during the spring of 2020. We are excited to have them join our current members and look forward to the service and work they will do together this year.

An invitation will be given in the spring semester to our current 4th- 6th-grade students who qualify.

Join me in congratulating the following:

5th Grade

Miranda Carpio

Edwin Cordero

Camila Garcia

Manuel Ibarra

Mariajose Lavin

Elisa Magallanes

Luisa Montelongo

Annapaula Ochoa

Allison Reyes

Nicolas Vann

6th Grade

Mikaela Aponte Urementa

Iker Balli

Camila Barrera

Camila Hernandez

Mariano Hinojosa

Matthew Lopez-Roque

Lia Lugo

Julissa Ontiveros

Aleksa Ramirez

Brandon Richer

Trevor Stawizynski

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Changes and Reminders - Mark your Calendars

September 18th - Focused Friday will be a 1/2 day. All virtual classes will end at 12 noon.

Teachers will be in training in PM for In-Person instruction

September 22nd - Parent Virtual Workshop - Return to School Plan @ 5:30 p.m. via Zoom. Link will be sent emailed.

September 23rd - Parent Virtual Workshop - Return to School for Little Saints Learning Center @ 5:30 p.m. via Zoom Link will be emailed.

September 23rd - Learning Option Decision Form due today for Quarter One

September 24th - John J. Fitzpatrick Chapter of the National Elementary Honor Society Induction Virtual Ceremony at 6 p.m. via Zoom

September 25th - Focused Friday will be an Asynchronous Learning Day! Teachers will be accessible via email, Remind or Google Classroom to assist students. Teachers will be working on final preparations for Monday, September 28th.

September 28th - First Day of In-Person Learning along with Distance Learning students.

September 30th - 1st Quarter Progress Reports will be available in the P.M. via FACTS SIS

In Person Back to School - First Day!!!

Monday, Sep. 28th, 7:30am

1300 East Los Ebanos Boulevard

Brownsville, TX

Excited to welcome back our students and begin the 5th week of the 20-21 school year!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.