Guiding Souls to Christ: Rochester Catholic Schools Faithfully Serving Children of God

The following blog was contributed by Rochester Catholic Schools in Rochester, MN: Christine Gregory, Director of Teaching & Learning; Haidee Todora, Director of Schools; Barb Plenge, Principal of St. Francis Assisi; Chris Smith, Principal of Holy Spirit; and Matt Langsdale, Principal of St. Pius X/Co-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called over a child, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” – Matthew 18:1-5

In the spirit of the Sisters of St. Francis who started Catholic Schools in Rochester, we strive to continue their mission of being a compassionate presence for peace in our community, working for justice, and inspiring a reverence for all creation. In 1877, they saw a need for health care and education and began St. Mary’s Hospital and Rochester Catholic Schools. We are convinced that if the Sisters arrived in Rochester today, one of their ministries would be to provide caring and convenient childcare for parents with young children as this is such a need in southeastern Minnesota.

Rochester Catholic Schools first opened its doors to preschool children 30 years ago at St. Francis of Assisi School – then known as St. Francis Nursery School. Today, we offer preschool at 3 locations:

  • Holy Spirit Catholic School
  • Francis of Assisi School
  • John the Evangelist/St. Pius X School (St. Pius X campus)

In the year 2017-2018, the program expanded to include childcare offerings at Holy Spirit and St. Pius X. Our “wrap around” childcare program allows children to arrive early, stay longer, or attend childcare on days not enrolled in preschool.

Another reason to expand our early childhood offerings is to build our faith and learning community so that parents are more likely to choose to continue their experience by enrolling in kindergarten to continue their Catholic education experience.

This coming fall, Rochester Catholic Schools retains favorite traditional offerings like 2-day and 3-day half-day age-specific programs, 5-day full-day prekindergarten classes, 3-day multiage offerings, as well as multiage enrichment programs at one of our sites that allow parents to build their child’s educational experience. Our traditional preschool programs feature a focus on early literacy, social-emotional learning, free play to foster creativity and more. The addition of prekindergarten this coming fall allows families a full day option for those families wanting more for their child but aren’t ready for kindergarten yet. The enrichment options provide families an opportunity to engage with students of a variety of preschool ages and are done in a thematic, project-based way. All of these options put our faith and our community at the forefront to provide families with a dynamic and loving experience that promote academic, social, emotional and spiritual growth for every child.

These options and discussions were the results of meetings with preschool staff over the summer and school year to generate ideas. The teachers discussed the values that they wanted to focus on for program development. The values the staff selected are faith, community, creativity, respect, and compassion. Rochester Catholic Schools has been truly blessed to have a staff that was so willing to walk through the process of developing preschool options for our families with these values at the core of their work.