October is National Principals Month, a month to honor the nation’s principals and how they contribute to school improvement and students’ success. The Hyde Park Herald will feature principals from local schools each week throughout the month.
Principal: Timothy Gallo, principal
School: St. Thomas the Apostle
Address: 5467 S. Woodlawn Ave.
HPH: What is the highlight of being principal at your school?
TG: The best part about being the principal at STA is the opportunity to work with all of the students, families and teachers at our school. I love watching our teachers work with our students every day to help them develop as students and people.
HPH: Describe your school’s culture.
TG: Our school’s motto is “God’s children in extraordinary variety”, and this phrase summarizes what we strive for as a school community. We are a faith-based community that embraces differences and finds the extraordinary qualities in all of our students. Our school prides itself on having a strong, community where all adults in the community (both parents and school staff) take responsibility for all of our students.
HPH: What is your school doing well?
TG: Our school is committed to providing a high-quality, faith-based education in a community where students feel supported and loved. Each month, we focus on one virtue as a school community. We meet each Monday morning to discuss the virtue, teachers focus on it in their classrooms, and we gather once a month to recognize students who model this virtue. October’s virtue is responsibility. We are also starting project-based learning units this year, where teachers and students work together to answer a big question around an issue in our community. Our classes will be working on learning more about issues like world hunger, access to water, and space exploration.
HPH: In what ways does your school connect with the community?
TG: Our school works to be a presence in our wider community. This starts with our relationship with St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. We have school Masses where students lead the music and readings. We also partner with the University of Chicago. Students from U. of C. will come to our school to help tutor students, volunteer in the classroom, and lead after-school programs. We have formed partnerships with various businesses in the Hyde Park community including: Hyde Park Property Management, Hyde Park Bank, Bank Financial, Hyde Park Produce, Porkchop, Pockets, and Orange Theory Fitness. We appreciate their continued support.
HPH: What are your feelings on parent and community volunteer involvement in school? How can they get involved?
TG: Parent involvement is essential in our school. We believe students do the best when they see their parents are also a part of our school community. We require all families to complete 20 service hours each year. Parents chaperone field trips, volunteer in our parking lot, help in the lunchroom, and help organize our major fundraisers. We also have an active parent organization that plans events and activities for our students throughout the school year. Any STA parent can join this group.
Upcoming events at St. Thomas the Apostle:
This year is the 150th anniversary of the STA Parish, and we have a few events to celebrate this milestone. We are beginning our annual Reach for the STArs appeal campaign this November. This year, we are focusing on raising funds that will help sustain our school for the future. We will also have our annual STArry Night Gala on April 27. This event will celebrate 150 years of the STA parish. You can learn more about these events and our school at our website – www.stapostleschool.com.
Compiled by Tia Carol Jones