Office of the President
Dr. Catherine Guerriero
Dear Lasallian Friends and Family,
In the zone.
La Salle Academy is in the zone.
After every basketball game I played in high school, I would call my Dad down at the docks to tell him how I did. He was a history teacher by day and longshoreman by night. He worked the four-to-twelve shift six days a week, so he missed a lot of my games. But I would call him and tell him every detail. He would soak up the play-by-play and I would get loftier and loftier in the description of my play, wanting him to feel the game and not feel bad that he missed it. When I would finish, he would ask me quietly, “You were in the zone, huh? Really in the zone?”
The meaning became clear to me – “In the zone” meant not necessarily perfect, or without error, but just really locked in – thinking and acting clearly, without fear, reacting well and smoothly. Surely, making a few mistakes, but mostly, performing extraordinarily well and unencumbered by seemingly daunting external factors. Making others look like amateurs.
La Salle is in the zone.
As I pen my sixth Letter from the President to each of you in our Lasallian family, I wrap up the second academic year since I arrived at our school. And although we have been dramatically turning this place around for the past two years, it was only last week when I called my Dad to regale him (still) of my daily exploits at La Salle, did he finally offer, quietly, “So, you are in the zone, huh?”
In March, we announced the first waiting list in almost thirty years. In ten days, we had 105 boys signed on the dotted line for 100 spots for our incoming freshman class. They came from zip codes we hadn’t touched in decades, yet still fit our social justice mission. This incoming class for September also had jumped up to a B-plus GPA from their elementary class.
In the zone.
For this fiscal year ending June 30, we will have again doubled our fundraising for the year. Our “new normal” will top out at $2 million dollars a year, quadrupled from two years ago. Our Spring Gala this year at The Pierre was a standing-room-only crowd of over 500 people that raised over $700,000 in scholarship money for our boys. The number of Student Sponsors – individuals who provide direct scholarship funding for students – also doubled.
In the zone.
Our student programming is also locked in. We continued to grow our flagship programs like La Salle in the City, our action-based learning initiative with dozens of curricular-based trips. We doubled the capacity of our LaSalle Works program, with close to 100 internship opportunities for our boys. We expanded our literacy/reading incentive program LaSalle Reads, as our boys collectively read more than 2500 books this academic year. Our LaSalle @ 2:30 after-school programming also hummed along, with close to 35 after-school clubs, not to mention a three-peat for our City Championship Bowling Team.
In the zone.
We kicked off our efforts this year to bring academic rigor back to La Salle with a full-court press. We are increasing our classroom offerings with new elective courses, including sociology, psychology, honors politics (taught by yours truly). And we have made a commitment to expand our music program and bring back the storied La Salle band with a new, full-time music teacher.
Our LaSalle TECH program was prominently featured in the Sunday edition of the New York Times recently. The article highlighted how our Tablet and technology focus have become deeply embedded in our pedagogy and classrooms. We have expanded our Guidance Department yet again with a third, full-time officer, an expert whose main focus will be on getting students college-minded from freshman year on.
We’ve held our faculty to high, accountable pedagogical standards inside the classroom. Our efforts also brought in the local Catholic school union to La Salle as their bargaining agent for Fall 2016. We’ve continued to advance the level of commitment and resources we provide to keep our faculty and students steeped in the highest level of academic excellence and professional development. In Fall 2016, La Salle will welcome SEVEN new hires, three of whom will fill newly created positions at La Salle. We will also welcome an Associate Dean for Freshmen to help guide our youngest Lasallians from the moment they walk in the door.
In the zone.
We are thrilled to have selected last month our new Principal-elect, Ms. Kerry Conroy, a life-long Lasallian through and through. She is simply the best – supremely highly educated and deeply immersed in Lasallian experiences and traditions. She is indeed the right person at the right time to continue our aggressive rise back to the top. Kerry has been at La Salle for decades, and as the daughter of a retired Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, she has nerves of steel under pressure.
Nothing but net.
And our partnerships have taken flight at an unprecedented pace. Under the direction of engineering powerhouse Cooper Union, our STEM programming has expanded to four concurrent curricular items and spawned our 2nd Place Robotics Team win in city-wide competition. Our students were privileged to have had visits from several college Presidents this past year. And we are now mapping our intersecting points of programming with Manhattan College, La Salle University, St. John’s University, St. Francis, the Abraham Joshua Heschel Jewish Day School, and beyond. Perhaps most exciting is our deep partnership with St. Joseph’s High School, an exquisite all-girls Catholic high school in downtown Brooklyn. This is the one to watch.
And so I ask you each to stay close to La Salle in the coming years and months, in this exciting “playoff” season. I believe – now that we are indeed zoned in to our “new normal” of steady finances and boys breaking down the doors to get in, as well as a heightened level of academic rigor and excellence – we are in a clear-thinking space. We can now begin to make decisions about real estate, our new /old home, and a strategic plan that will set us up for the next 170 years. The need for your time, your treasure and your talent has never been so great.
You know – my Dad also used to say that you are only as good as your last win.
La Salle is lacing up its sneakers for the playoffs. Won’t you continue to be part of it? Thank you for all you do for us. Each of you receiving this letter is the reason we are all in this position at La Salle.
Personally – I am grateful … and so are our boys.
Catherine L. Guerriero, Ph.D., M.P.A.