There are few better rewards than recognition for hard work and a job well done. Continuing its tradition of over 140 years of excellence, St. Agnes Catholic School in Avon is enjoying some well-earned recognition after receiving its state test results. Grades are tested in English and Math competency, scored and compared on state and local levels. Teachers and students alike strive to prepare for these exams and eagerly await their outcomes. This year, the results were well worth the wait.
              It is no secret that Rochester’s diocesan schools have consistently stood out from amongst their peers with assessment results that are better than New York State averages. In 2018, St. Agnes students did exceptionally well. 85% of St. Agnes students were proficient in English Language Arts, and 79% of St. Agnes students were proficient in math, higher than any other Rochester Diocesan Catholic School and standing out amongst its neighbors, as well. To put these numbers in perspective, the New York State averages were 45.2% in English Language Arts and 44.5% in math.
              “The state assessment is a gift for our teachers." said Principal Jensen. "The last thing I would want my teachers to have is fear with these state tests. Teachers’ jobs aren’t on the line over scores, so teachers are able to view these tests as guides for their instruction and planning for even greater success in the future. Teachers can see what areas were successful and which were less successful. Also, teachers are able to see where their upcoming students’ strengths and weaknesses are and where they can continue to help them advance as well as where they may need more support.” Principal Jensen shared that St. Agnes students take pride in their scores and put forth their best efforts on their own. Administrators point to the same source of St. Agnes’ success: teachers.
        “Throughout the last couple of years, our teachers and principals have worked diligently to place our Catholic schools on the path of continuous improvement,” said Superintendent of Rochester’s Diocesan Schools, Anthony Cook. St. Agnes Principal Elizabeth Jensen agrees. “Our teachers really take the time to get to know our students and their individual learning styles. They teach them as a whole person. Once our teachers know the way each student learns, they are better able to teach them the standards in the way they best learn and at their own pace. Our smaller class sizes support this process, as well.” Teachers at St. Agnes teach the whole student, spiritually, emotionally, socially and academically, building strong, positive leaders for the future.
              This preparation took a big stride forward with the dedication of St. Agnes’ new Technology lab this past January. Mrs. Cindy Zhe gave the dedication speech for the school’s newly upgraded Sr. Monica Memorial Library and Technology Center. Zhe is a board member of the St. Agnes Foundation, a retired SAS preschool teacher, a parent who's 4 children all graduated from SAS, and current librarian at the school. “From the construction of this building in 1905 to the technology upgrades we see here today, in 2019, it has always been people working together to bring the best possible education to the children enrolled at this school,” said Zhe. However, updating technology is no modest expense and was beyond the usual school budget. “The St. Agnes School Foundation works in concert with Ms. Jensen to identify improvements needed for our school that cannot be met within the boundaries of the school budget,” explained Zhe, thanking Mrs. Kim Dougherty, Mrs. Maureen Kingston and Mr. Richard Burke who are also on the Foundation committee.
             It was this board-directed foundation that decided to create a technology lab. Mrs. Zhe thanked Mr. Mark Dennis, an SAS parent, whose expertise and hours of research produced a thorough analysis regarding which equipment was best for St. Agnes. Thanks to his efforts, the Foundation concluded that a specified Technology Endowment Fund was needed in order to prepare St. Agnes students for continued success. The Foundation also recognized an immediate need: computers requiring an upgrade. This need has now been met in the form of Chromebook laptops. Large board room scale tables were also replaced with more flexible tables. “A special thanks goes out to more than a dozen donors, especially Mary J. D'Angelo, Peter Koomen, Thomas Shaw, Philip Gelsomino II, Barbara Herman, and Mike & Kate Rizzolo”, says Zhe. Truly, the community and St. Agnes families came together to turn dreams into reality.
             The community’s involvement did not stop there, however, but continued on to upgrading the Sr. Monica Library, as well. “Last year at this time, the Avon Free Library was undergoing an upgrade too,” said Zhe. “The library's Board of Trustees gave our school the shelving that was being replaced in the Children's Room.  Thanks to this most generous gift coming from our Avon community, the Sister Monica Memorial Library now has a sleek and finished look, with shelving that matches and is user friendly to all age levels,” said Mrs. Zhe, thanking Ms. Chris Ryan and all associated with the Avon Free Library for their generosity. 
             St. Agnes outstanding academic achievements coupled with the generous outpouring of support from St. Agnes’ families and its community demonstrates more strongly than words how valued St. Agnes is. Mrs. Zhe agrees, speaking of these recent contributions as “just a few of the countless ways that our school continues to benefit from community members who value our ‘little Gem on the Circle.’” Looking to the future, Mrs. Zhe states, “With the support of Fr. Michael and our Parish Cluster, the St. Agnes School Foundation, our community, and our never tiring families, the focus remains on building our future so that multiple generations ahead can benefit from the solid foundation that was provided for them.”
Registration is now open for Preschool and Kindergarten through 6th grade at St. Agnes School. Call (585) 226 – 8500 for more information.
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