School of the Month: St. Joseph School (Santa Ana)

St. Joseph Catholic School (Santa Ana) invites the public to visit the school for an open house on Sunday, February 24th, 2019, 10AM-1PM

Located a mile away from Civic Center Plaza, St. Joseph Catholic School offers a variety of programs to equip and empower its students, including struggling readers. Dr. Brad Snyder, the school principal, spent the last few years researching about dyslexia. He put research into practice by having teachers in grades K-2 and 5 trained in Orton- Gillingham methodologies and strategies to help all students read better. St. Joseph School earned highly effective marks in Instructional Methodology to Support High Achievement of All Students and in Support for Student Spiritual, Personal and Academic Growth on its WCEA WASC accreditation.

To enhance and deepen student learning experience, St. Joseph School uses Chromebooks in grades TK – 2 and a one-to-one technology program from grades 3-8. This is done so that each student can access the curriculum each day to meet their needs under direct instruction of the teacher.

“Our diocesan schools truly have a commitment to academic excellence and faith formation,” said Dr. Erin Barisano, Diocese of Orange superintendent of Catholic schools. “Our students have been learning and succeeding academically while infusing everything with our Catholic identity,” she said. “Now we are at a point where we are continuing to build on that as technology changes all the time,” Barisano said. “We want to utilize it as a tool for student learning and for evangelization.”

Alexandra Lugo, ‘14 is one of St. Joseph School graduates who embody the values of St. Joseph School. She shared her educational journey at the 2019 Conference of Business and Ethics Bishop’s Reception in January. The CBE has become the premier event in Orange County, where a faith-based community of influential business, religious, academic, and philanthropic leaders can gather, knowing that they share a common commitment to ethical best practices in their daily lives. Award-winning actor Neal McDonough will be speaking at the conference and recording artist Matt Maher will be sharing his musical gifts with the audience.

In addition to reading and technology integration, one of the learning experiences available to St. Joseph students is CLASS ACT. CLASS ACT is a program that brings a musician from the Pacific Symphony Orchestra to teach lessons about music and a featured composer of the year. The program culminates with grades 2-8 attending a concert at the Segerstrom Performing Arts Center.

To schedule a private tour of St. Joseph School, please call the school office at 714-542-2704. To learn more about the Conference of Business and Ethics, please go to


America’s system of education was built for an economy and a society that no longer exists. In the manufacturing and agrarian economies that existed 50 years ago, it was enough to master the “Three Rs” (reading, writing, and arithmetic). In the modern “flat world,” the “Three Rs” simply aren’t enough. If today’s students want to compete in this global society, they must also be proficient communicators, creators, critical thinkers, and collaborators (the “Four Cs”). St Columban School recognizes that the needs of students have changed and embraces the call to equip the students for their future. 

The school’s integrated technology revolutionizes the learning process. Teachers now guide and facilitate while students take the responsibility for their learning outcomes. Students benefit from a technology-infused education with a 1:1 iPad program in grades 3-8 and a cart of iPads and a cart of Chromebooks to be used with the lower grades. Thinkers like Tony Wagner, Sir Ken Robinson, and George Couros inspire St. Columban School to revise its Student Learning Expectations to include: being able to formulate good questions, being imaginative and adaptable, and being entrepreneurial. 

The school’s Makerspace area allows students to get hands-on experience with engineering, robotics, and other creative project. All students in Transitional Kindergarten through eighth grade go weekly to makerspace and get first-hand experience with design thinking. Innovation in school and the workspace requires connecting and remixing content from all subjects, including the arts, to find new solutions. The space also includes a green screen and computers for creating videos and other digital projects. 

Engineering design process is one of the school’s focal points. Students learn to be comfortable with the iterative process and to understand there is always room for a new, improved version and new ideas. It also means breaking down subject silos. In 7th and 8th grade students work through an intensive engineering design process that applies advanced math and science skills to a yearlong engineering class. 

Alongside vibrant academics programming available at the school, students go through their day in an environment that allows them to build a relationship with God and model Christ-like behaviors. Students in preschool to second grade learn about the Catholic faith through the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a Montessori-based catechetical program. The school has two sacred spaces that have been prepared for children to have a hands-on experience for faith formation, rooted in the Bible, Liturgy of the Church, and the educational principles of Maria Montessori. Additionally, the school provides students with active social justice programs to help students live out Gospel values. For example, students care for the community garden and the vegetables grown at the garden become gifts to the local homeless community. St. Columban students and families also walked in Concern America’s Walk Out of Poverty, raising over $11,000 for those in need. 

St. Columban School is accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA) and by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school has a strong history in the Garden Grove community and serves a multi-cultural student body. To learn more about admissions for fall 2019, please visit please visit or call the school office at (714) 534-3947.  

School of the Month: St. Barbara Catholic School in Santa Ana

Established in 1963, St. Barbara Catholic School provides a comprehensive education enabling the intellectual, spiritual and moral development of students. The original parishioners built a school and church where tomato fields once stood. St. Barbara Catholic School has served as the academic anchor in the surrounding communities of Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Fountain Valley and Huntington Beach. St. Barbara Catholic Church serves over 4,000 families and a school of more than 500 students. The school has a staff of principal, 15 lay teachers and four office staff.

During the 1990s, St. Barbara Catholic Church was blessed with Catholic Vietnamese immigrants. The school addressed the expansion of religious education programs to accommodate the growth of increased student enrollment. The school was blessed with a $2.1 million facility improvements included a parking lot and school playground redesign along with a new school building housing two kindergartens, a multimedia center, a fine arts classroom, a teacher workroom and a physical education and athletics room. In addition, the school implemented a 1:1 technology program to increase student achievement and engagement by having students in grades 1 to 3 use iPads in the classroom and students in grades 4 to 8 use Chromebooks.

Faith formation and community service is highly important to the community of learners at St. Barbara School. The school community prays together, celebrate Mass regularly, receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion and participate in daily religion instruction. In addition, students participate in service projects allowing us to support a number of organizations in our local communities by raising funds for Pennies from Heaven, Operation Rice Bowl and hold drives for pajamas and canned foods.

On October 10, from 6 p.m. -8 p.m., St. Barbara School and Mater Dei High School are co-hosting an evening program for the Vietnamese community at St. Barbara School Gym. Theresa Nguyen, Executive VP of Quoc Viet Foods Foods and parishioner at St. Barbara Church, Fr. Kiet Ta, Rector / Chaplain of Mater Dei, and Mater Dei’s Principal, Ms. Frances Clare will be sharing stories about Catholic education in their lives. The event will be conducted in English and Vietnamese. To learn more about St. Barbara School or the event, please call the school office at (714) 775-9477.

Three Eagles Named National Merit Semifinalists

Santa Margarita Catholic High School seniors Samuel Wang of Coto de Caza, Halie Kang of Ladera Ranch and Sonali Madisetti of Coto de Caza were named semifinalists in the 64th annual National Merit Scholarship Program. This honor is earned by less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. These academically-talented high school seniors are three of approximately 16,000 students nationwide that will have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,500 National Merit scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. To be considered for a merit scholarship award, semifinalists must fulfill several requirements to advance to the finalist level of the competition. Over 90 percent of the semifinalists are expected to attain finalist standing, and about half of the finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the merit scholar title.

Over 1.6 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools entered the 2019 National Merit Scholarship Program by taking the 2017 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), which served as an initial screen of program entrants. The nationwide pool of semifinalists includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and their high school must submit a detailed scholarship application, in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment, and honors and awards received. A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed and recommended by a high school official, write an essay, and earn SAT scores that confirm the student’s earlier performance on the qualifying test.

Photo:  (left to right) Samuel Wang of Coto de Caza, Halie Kang of Ladera Ranch and Sonali Madisetti of Coto de Caza with Santa Margarita Catholic High School Principal Mr. Raymond Dunne.