Director note to parents 1st quarter

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October 12, 2018


Dear Joplin Area Catholic Schools Family,

We have begun our 133rd year of Catholic education in Joplin, and I welcome each of you as supporters of the mission of our church and schools as we partner with parents to help our students become disciples of Christ.

At St. Mary’s Elementary, Mrs. Joanne Lown is doing an outstanding job welcoming each of our students and their families.  Thank you for welcoming her and making her feel at home, in addition to welcoming Father Joe Weidenbenner as our new St. Mary’s pastor.  With the dedicated staff at St. Mary’s, your students are assured of receiving a solid Catholic and academic education, in addition to being loved and welcomed each day! We received a Department of Natural Resources grant for recycled tire mat for our pre-school playground, and we are hoping to get concrete poured, then the mat and new playground system—thanks to the Auction Fund-a-Need that finished covering the actual system— installed in the next few months.  We are also hoping to extend our pre-school into the summer months.  We realize most families need a quality program and care not just during the school year, but also during the summer, so we are hoping to be ready in 2019!  St, Mary’s celebrates Mass most Fridays at 8:30, and many parents celebrate this blessed time with their children and grandchildren.   St, Mary’s Elementary is always busy, blessed with quality faith-filled and learning opportunities for our young Warriors!

Mrs. Tracey Welch, principal at St. Peter’s Middle and McAuley High, manages to find time between two buildings to also welcome with much love grades 6-12.  Beginning next week, Mrs. Welch will be spending some office time at St. Peter’s, so you may see her toting her laptop across the alley.  Mr. Callari will be moving to the HS library, and he will still be working with all three schools’ students.    As you may have heard, we have closed the weight room on the stage, and we have moved weights to the McAuley basement.  The stage was unsafe, so this has prompted us to seek a plan to demolish the stage area and develop a plan to remodel the gym entrance area to include a new weight room, offices, athletic storage, and perhaps, a connector between St. Peter’s and McAuley.  We hope to see the schematic of this area in a few weeks.  Our Project Lead the Way partnership with Mercy Health System is going well and we have 14 students enrolled!  Just this week, great strides have been made in our McAuley locker rooms.  These areas are in great need of updating, and thanks to the efforts of many, our locker rooms will improve!!!  In memory of Dr. James Goff, the memorial funds established have helped us begin the process of rebuilding the grotto for our blessed Virgin Mary.  The concrete pad is poured, rocks were donated by the Richard Freitas family, and we are awaiting the actual grotto to be built.

A few brief but important notes:

  • We were able to provide all staff with the diocesan recommended 2.1% raise. Each of our staff is dedicated to ensuring that the integrity and faith of our schools continues in the tradition of Joplin Catholic education.
  • Our teachers attended the Ozark 7 Conference Professional Development Day a couple weeks ago. We are seeking new ways of continually improving student learning.
  • Doretta Fox, our new technology coordinator, is enthusiastically assisting all staff with technology to improve our world, keeping in mind that our students’ lives are and will be in their futures, significantly impacted by technology. Doretta is attending the MoreNet conference next week, and she continues to amaze me by her desire to help EVERYONE in our system!
  • We have received over $85 in grants in the past year, mostly, to update technology, but also to purchase new textbooks.
  • Our auction earned over $150,000. Date for 2019 Auction is Friday, April 26.
  • Our Annual Appeal kickoff was a success, with Bishop Rice and Interim Superintendent Gene Aug attending, in addition to about 50 of our JACS family. As of today, we have raised $6500 toward our $75,000 goal, and our AA brochures are to be mailed next week.
  • JACS TOTAL PS/PK-12 Enrollment over the past five years:






We continue to pray and to seek ways to improve our schools to increase our enrollment.

  • This year marks the 175th Anniversary of the Sisters of Mercy in America, and our beloved Sister Joan Margret Schwager is leading our system through studies of the Sisters of Mercy, and our students are attempting to perform 175 Acts of Mercy through the year. We celebrated Mercy Day with an all-school Mass on Sept. 24, with Bishop Rice and with St. Ann’s staff and students
  • Marjorie Comer was hired last spring as JACS Marketing Coordinator, and she has gathered volunteers to form a marketing committee to develop a JACS marketing plan. She has developed a strong JACS presence in social and print, and TV media, and in our parish bulletins!
  • Through a generous and faithful donor, we have funding to investigate and hire a youth minister for our area. I have visited with pastors and we will begin developing a job description for this position, and we hope to have someone in place by summer.
  • I have met with our pastors regarding a strategic plan, and I have three commitments to a SP steering committee. I will have this committee in place by next week, and then, we will have our first meeting to develop a short-term (3-5 year) plan in place in 2019.
  • Thanks to dedicated efforts by Renee Motazedi and Kathy Patton in our business office, over the past few months, we have implemented Smart Tuition, and now, our families are able to process their payments through this system, which is much more efficient and helps JACS ensure more standardized payment processes. We have outsourced payroll, which provides us with a standardized process, and the finance office has worked diligently to get the financials incorporated into QuickBooks.  The financials are now aligned with the budget.  Jeff Moore, from Baker, Davis, Roderique has been a big help in all the necessary items into place.
  • We will be implementing additional components of Blackbaud over the next few months—more details to follow as we progress, but this system will be a significant help with communication with our families.
  • JACS administrators are participating in a year-long FORMATION program with Joel James, Mercy Health System’s Formation Director. We meet monthly to learn how to more effectively integrate the Mercy mission and values into our school system.  Thank you, Mercy!
  • SCRIP sales continue, and I strongly encourage you to purchase gift cards through SCRIP. I believe SCRIP is for sale at all parishes after weekend Masses.  Scrip is also available at each school office.
  • Chick-fil-a nights are October 18, Dec. 20, Feb. 21, and April 18. JACS gets 10-20%!
  • Papa John’s nights are Nov. 23-24, Jan 25-26, March 29-30, and May 24-25. We get 20% and Online Code is FUND
  • Each second Monday at Moe’s, a % goes to St. Mary’s Home and School!
  • All First Tuesdays at Club 609 10% of all proceeds go to our scholarship fund!


I encourage you to attend JACS Board meetings at 5:30 at McAuley:

October 17

November 14

December 19

January 16

February 20

March 13

April 17

May 15

June 19


I’m certain there are many more details that I could share, but I wanted to touch base with you to share good news and the many blessings we have as Joplin Area Catholic Schools.

We, JACS administrators, teachers, Board members, alumni, development, and finance committee members, volunteers, family members, as partners to our families, continue to fulfill the mission of our Church in bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth.  In particular, our schools are the place to evangelize our youth—the future of our Church.  Quite often, we get caught up in our society, in our “world,” losing sight of the WHY we are here.  I know I tend to fail to keep my mind and heart set on what matters most—“ensuring that human beings can grasp the truth of things, and in grasping that truth, can know their duties to God, to themselves, and to their neighbors.”  (Veritatis Spendor, 4)

May God bless you today, and tomorrow, as together, we continue the mission of our Church in ensuring that our JACS students are educated in the truth.


Georgiana L. McGriff, Director









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