The Story of Frassati Catholic Academy
In February 2009, the Church in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis began an intentional and comprehensive self-examination. The fruit of this work was the Strategic Plan announced by Archbishop John Nienstedt in October 2010, the main goal of which was “a revitalized and sustainable local Church, responsive to the needs of all of our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
The strategic plan called for an evaluation of our Catholic schools, which play an important role in the mission of the Church. The evaluation focused on the areas of Catholic Identity, governance, educational excellence, advancement, and funding.
As part of this evaluation of our schools, the leadership of St. Mary of the Lake and St. Pius X, along with representatives of the Archdiocese and experts in finance and demographics, began discussions to strengthen and grow Catholic education in the White Bear Lake area. Based on these discussions, the decision was made to consolidate St. Mary of the Lake and St. Pius X schools into a Catholic school for the White Bear Lake area with the goals of: stabilizing enrollment, while maintaining healthy class sizes; maximizing parish and parental investments in our schools; and combining the resources and traditions of two great Catholic schools and two faith-filled parishes to strengthen Catholic education in our community for the next generation of families.
Once the decision to create a regional school was announced in January 2013, the exciting work of forming that school began. Parents, parishioners and staff from both communities generously volunteered to work on committees that developed policies and procedures for the new school.
After consultation with both schools’ principals, administrators, and trustees, and after reviewing an assessment of the facilities prepared by an independent consultant, the pastors chose the St. Mary of the Lake Parish Center as the home for the new school.
Since the new school was a new and separate corporation, another important decision was to choose a name for the school. After work in the parishes and in the committees, a list of possible names was submitted to Archbishop Nienstedt. From that list, he chose Frassati Catholic Academy as the name for the new regional school (see below for a short history of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati).
Following site-selection and naming of the new school, a mission was defined. Frassati Catholic Academy is dedicated to educating students in a nurturing environment grounded in the Catholic Tradition, inspiring a love of learning, and empowering students to grow in faith while sharing their gifts for the common good.
A major program decision with that mission in mind was to adopt an educational strategy called STREAM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Religion, Engineering, Arts and Math.
The conversation about the STREAM program began back in August of 2013. The National Catholic Education Association initiated this learning model and a few STREAM schools have already been created across the country. The concept of STREAM grew out of the STEM and STEAM models in existence in public school systems, which have proven to be very effective models for integrated instruction.
Collaboration between organizations allowed Frassati Catholic Academy to bring the STREAM concept to White Bear Lake. We entered into partnership with St. Catherine University, which is the National Center for Elementary STEM Education and offers a nationally recognized STEM certification for teachers. This partnership ensures that our faculty and staff receive the proper training to teach this integrated approach to learning.
In addition, Frassati partners with the White Bear Center for the Arts to teach offer students an art program of the highest quality. Local artists often visit our school to teach units of art in their area of expertise.
With the creation of Frassati Catholic Academy, the parishioners of St. Mary of the Lake continue their 100-year commitment to Catholic education. In cooperation with the parishioners of St. Pius X, our school builds on the rich traditions of two excellent Catholic schools as we seek to make the name of Jesus Christ known and loved.