For St. Thomas More principal, college and heaven are goals for his young scholars
Jan. 22, 2020
Smith Jr., the principal at St. Thomas More Catholic Academy in Washington, D.C., added some more brightly colored college pennants on a clothesline decorating a wall along the school’s main hallway. The more than 80 pennants included the names and mascots of many Catholic colleges and universities, Ivy League schools, other private and state universities, and historically black institutions of higher learning.
D.C. Opportunity Scholarships have supported mom’s biggest investment – education for her ‘four heartbeats’
JAN 17, 2020
Nakisha Thompson has sent all four of her children to Catholic school, beginning with pre-kindergarten classes at St. Thomas More Catholic Academy in Washington, D.C. She chose this schooling for her children because she knows firsthand the benefit of such an education.
What's Happening in Our Schools:
St. Anthony Catholic School:
Benjamin Alvin Drew, Jr. - a graduate of St. Anthony's - remembers well his flight as a NASA astronaut aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. The mission to the International Space Station (ISS) - which took place from Feb. 24 to March 9, 2011 - was NASA’s final Shuttle flight before the trailblazing Shuttle program was discontinued.
On this flight Alvin took part in two spacewalks while docked at the ISS, and as a result he became the 200th person to walk in space. This also made him one of the last U.S. astronauts to walk in space.
Here's a great article about Alvin Drew that was in the Catholic Standard:
St. Thomas More:
Our principal is at Harvard University’s Urban School Leadership Seminar Learning some amazing things to bring back to STM; let’s keep him in prayer as he works to reform our school!!! #CCATeach
Monumental Scholars Fund Newsletter
What’s new in our schools?
Our four elementary schools and two high schools are having a busy and exciting school year. Educators and administrators in our schools continue to focus on hope, potential and gratitude each day, while instilling the importance of strong faith, hard work and learning. In addition, students and teachers have a lot of fun!
Students and teachers at our schools were very excited about announcement of the new archbishop of Washington. Archbishop Wilton Gregory visited one of our schools, St. Anthony Catholic School, earlier this month. https://stanthonyschooldc.org/news/archbishop-gregory-visits-st-anthony
In addition, St. Thomas More hosted a Congressional hearing to mark the 15th anniversary of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. Since it started in 2004, the program has awarded 10,701 scholarships to K-12 students from low-income families in DC, giving them the opportunity to attend the school of their choice. Many of our students benefit from this program. https://cathstan.org/news/local/d-c-opportunity-scholarships-seen-as-a-lifeline-to-a-brighter-future-for-children
This year two of our schools welcomed new principals. Gerald Smith is the head of St. Thomas More and Elana Gilmore is the new principal at Archbishop Carroll High School.
We asked Gerald Smith, principal at St. Thomas More, a few questions to get to know him better.
How do the students at your school inspire you?
The scholars at STM are resilient. They meet every challenge with poise and passion. They are committed to each other as peers and really want to become young men and women of great character. This inspires me to be consistent and focused on being a positive role model for each of them.
For more Q & A with Gerald Smith click here.
How/why did you get into education?
Education was an unexpected calling for me. I initially wanted to be a doctor and during the summer before applying to medical school I took a summer job as a science teacher here at STM. During the summer, I was approached by my predecessor for a full-time position. After teaching for the first year, that year turned to seven years later and I've been in education for eight years, having taught 4th-12th grade science. I have learned to love kids and their matriculation through our education system.
I have an ordained calling from God to lead, teach, and inspire each scholar that I come in contact with. Unexpectedly, I became a principal which is more God's plan than mine. I'm here as a vessel to spread my knowledge and passion for learning to each kid I come in contact with.
What brought you to St. Thomas More?
STM has been a beacon of family, love, and hope for me. It has been a place that I learned to love the work one does and provided me the chance to grow up here. I spent most of my twenties learning to be an adult here and doing so while teaching middle school. I always talk to my scholars about the parallels of being in middle school to be in your twenties post college. They are so similar with self-discovery and growth. STM has given me both: a chance to find out who I want to be in society and in the eyes of Christ, as well as growing as a man of color and educator.
How has St. Thomas More changed this year since you have been principal?
This year I have been invested in changing school culture. Our school has been focused on changing the dynamics of our scholars to visible thinkers infused with agency. To do so, I have worked to empower each of my educators with tools and resources to collaborate and work together to build our school's curriculum. The environment of the school is very positive and each person is realizing the grit he or she possesses to move our school forward.
What do you see as your biggest challenge at your school?
The biggest challenge STM has faced this year has been the loss of one of our beloved educators Mr. Larry B Jones. Losing Mr. Jones in the beginning of the school year changed each of us in some way whether intensely or just a bit. Our school has not been the same with his absence, but his legacy remains present as we continue to love one another and become our best selves.
What accomplishments have you had this year so far?
This year we have hosted many successful fundraisers and each of our teachers has enrolled in an intense 13-week cohort program with Harvard University's Graduate School of Education: Project Zero. I'm very excited about this opportunity for our educators as they work to invest in themselves as life-long learners.
What is your hope for your students?
My hope for each of them is that they realize that they each are powerful beyond measure. The world is their playground to be creative and innovative. I hope that they know that God loves them and they matter!!!
How does the Monumental Scholars Fund help you and the kids reach your goals/objectives?
MSF provides my scholars with an opportunity to gain an education that will guide them out of their circumstances. It gives them a chance to gain an education that makes them count in today's world.
What do you love most about St. Thomas More?
I love each of my scholars and educators, for being their authentic selves, rooted in mission, guided by love.
Lastly, how do you start each day?
I start each day in prayer and reflection with my wife. It’s crucial to a successful day.
May 10th- Opportunity Scholarship Program, which provides DC families K-12 private school scholarships, will be holding its next lottery. Many students at our schools have benefited from these scholarships.
May 13th- MSF will be hosting our first golf tournament at Kenwood Country Club in Bethesda. We hope you can join us. Here is the link to sign up: https://www.msfdc.org/msf-golf-tournament
May 18th - MSF will be holding a lacrosse clinic from 10am to 12pm. It is for students in 4th grade and up. We are looking for volunteers to help run it. Please contact Hilary Bednarz at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are able to volunteer.
May 23rd- Archbishop Carroll High School graduation
May 30th- Don Bosco Cristo Rey graduation
June 7th- Sacred Heart School graduation
June 7th- St. Anthony Catholic School graduation
June 7th- St. Francis Xavier graduation
June 7th- St. Thomas More graduation
We hope you had a wonderful Easter! When you shop Mother's Day gifts at smile.amazon.com/ch/47-3018272, AmazonSmile donates to Monumental Scholars Fund.
Your support and generosity allow us to light our students’ way to a brighter future. Thank you!
“When people come to visit our school, they often share that they noticed how happy our children are. I believe that their happiness comes from the knowledge that they are loved by God and are destined to greatness.”
Elise Heil, Principal,
Sacred Heart School