History and community profile

Process for School Development

St. Gregory Nazianzen Catholic School History

St. Gregory Nazianzen School is located in Koreatown, Mid-Wilshire District, in the city of Los Angeles. Both school and parish church are conveniently located on the same premise and essentially surrounded by quiet residential homes and small businesses.

The school is from grades first to eighth with current enrollment of 255 students, or 123 male students and 132 female students. The school is predominantly Catholic, making up about eighty percent of the school population. The school has a total of 108 students enrolled in the parish church. Compared to various private Catholic schools, St. Gregory Nazianzen School prides itself in attaining many families who belong to the same parish church.

The school's physical facility is over sixty years old. The school structure itself is considered a large two-story building with a parish hall. The building is well-maintained with sufficient access to restrooms, lockers for middle school students, faculty room, and a spacious kitchen area. The student store sits near the lunch area where students may purchase snacks, books, and other school materials. There are a total of eight classrooms to house grades first to eighth grade. In addition, the school ground is visibly wide and spacious as well as neatly maintained for students to use. A computer lab is also available for all students.

In accordance with the goals of Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, St. Gregory Nazianzen School forms a Catholic educational community wherein human culture, knowledge, and ancestral heritage centered in faith and shared in a spirit of freedom and love. This education is an effort to pave the way to Christian associations with other people so that genuine unity and peace may be promoted. This community of faith strives to foster that growth in the students, which begets the fullness of Christian maturity.

The students are provided with a variety of learning experiences which assist them in overcoming their educational difficulties, which are often found with the bicultural living situations of Hispanic and Asiatic backgrounds.  The students are also encouraged to strive to attain their God-given potential through assiduous participation in classroom and independent studies.

The philosophy of the school also believes in the holistic growth of the students, which essentially evolve through positive and creative participation in their homes, the Church, school, and community. In these settings, the students are able to experience their dignity and �personhood� or self-worth, while learning to treat all people with charity and justice.

The faculty and administration believe that the attainment of the goals of the school philosophy is achieved only through conscientious fulfillment of shared responsibilities.  The best interests of the students are furthered through constant home-teacher, teacher-student, parent-principal and principal-student conferences, wherein these settings, the school community are able to utilize and disclose their educational expectations and environments of the students, school, and family.  Thus, St. Gregory Nazianzen School's philosophy centers in a strong belief that total growth of the student is the responsibility of the parents, school, the parish community, and the larger society.

St. Gregory Nazianzen School started in a temporary residence in September 1925 with only forty-eight children enrolled in the school from first to fourth grades. The school was staffed by two Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, who traveled each day from Santa Monica. The fifth through eight grades were then added in successive years. The first graduation took place in June 1929, where at the time, nine students received their diplomas. By 1929, the school enrollment has reached 136 students.

In December 1931, St. Gregory Nazianzen School was dedicated by the Most Reverend and Archbishop of Los Angeles, John J. Cantwell. Additional classrooms were built in 1953 to accommodate the growing enrollment of students. When enrollment reached over 300, an additional classroom was built in 1959, finally facilitating each grade to have its own classroom. Since that time, major reconstruction was found to be necessary in order to make the building earthquake-proof and to remove asbestos used in earlier construction. An existing school library room was then converted into a present computer laboratory in summer of 1990.

Indeed, St. Gregory Nazianzen School experienced several transitions. From September 1925 to early September 1975, the Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary staffed the school. However, in late in September 1975, the Poor Clare Missionaries assumed the administration of the school, but then withdrew in June 1980. Once again, the Sisters of Holy Name of Jesus and Mary became the administrators and teachers for the school until June 1985. Unfortunately, because of the shortage of sisters staffing the school, the Sisters of Holy Names of Jesus and Mary finally decided to relinquish their services and sought for new administration to operate the school. Currently, St. Gregory Nazianzen School is managed by lay faculty and administrative staff.

St. Gregory Nazianzen School ensures that students are provided a safe and effective learning environment by making critical improvements within the school property and providing accessible, up-to-date materials and equipment. For instance, the school acquired brand new computer equipment with internet access, updated the science lab equipment by purchasing new microscopes and kits, new sound system, and installation of telephone lines in the classrooms, faculty room, kitchen area, computer room, and snack bar.

Other general improvements throughout the school property include installation of newer drinking fountains, newly painted play-area, repair of visible pot holes in the play ground, remodeling of the bathrooms, and installation of hot water and sink in the faculty room.

The school also strives to ensure that students receive quality education and experience by implementing various school programs. For example, during 2004 � 2005 school year, the school hired professional music instructors to start the Music Educational Program as part of the academic curriculum. Students are now offered opportunities to exercise their skills and talents through vocal, choir, and other core musical activities and performances.

In addition, the After-School Enrichment Program is a new program offered to students on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday after regular class schedule. This program provides students with tutorial assistance from their teachers.

The Educational Therapy Program is also recently added to assist about 10% of the school population with critical learning problems, who, as a result, are academically failing and/or facing retention. Some are recent transfer students who demonstrated learning deficiencies and lack math and language skills. An Educational Therapist has been hired to conduct the Remediation Program, which is a specially-designed intervention plan to improve reading and study skills for students with learning challenges. Though recently started in early 2004 school year, the faculty, parents, and students have seen improvement in these students.

St. Gregory Nazianzen School serves a diverse school community with the following ethnic backgrounds:

According to recent surveys conducted, twenty-five percent of the parent community has only elementary education and twenty-nine percent had some high school education. Forty-five percent of the parent community graduated high school and forty-five percent attained college degree. The survey also pointed that most parents with only high school experience plan to enroll their children in private high schools.

Eighty percent of the parents who are the primary wage earners have only one (1) job and only ten percent of the primary wage earners have more than one job. The parent community has a diverse occupation, from medical professions to laborers, from office personnel to construction workers. Many mothers work as nannies or babysitters. Some are homemakers or housewives. Some fathers maintain a job as bus, taxi, and truck drivers, while others perform manual labor, including brick masonry, carpentry, mechanics and technicians. In addition, some parents work in office environment, retail sales, bank or financial industry, clinics or hospitals, and food services.

More than fifty percent of the school population come from low-income households. About sixty percent make between $25,000 - $35,000. As a result, fifty-six percent of the student population qualifies for Title I support services and 146 students receive free or reduced-price lunch for low-income families.

Almost twenty percent are average middle class or those with income earnings around $40,000. Only eleven percent of the parent community makes over a total income of $60,000.

Over 65% of the parents are married and live together in the same household. Less than ten percent are single parents and over fifteen percent are separated or divorced. Only less than 5% are widowed parents.

St. Gregory Nazianzen School recruits students mainly from St. Jeanne De Lestonnac, St. Anne, and Wilton Place Elementary School, all located in Los Angeles. The teacher to student ratio is 35:1 in most cases. There is relatively low turnover in enrollment, but moderately low in first to second grade. This is mainly due to the number of new public schools being built and numerous existing schools surrounding St. Gregory Nazianzen School. However, the school continues to outreach to many pre-school and kindergarten schools to seek further enrollment, primarily for first grade students. The school is ranked financial level 8 in Region D in the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

There are a total of ten (10) full-time, certified faculty members (Class A to D) of St. Gregory Nazianzen School. Three faculty members are currently enrolled in the Masters Program and will be completing their degree in Spring 2006. Four teachers are Filipino, two Hispanic, including the principal, two white or Caucasian, and one multi-cultural. Five faculty members have over ten years of service with the school.

The teachers have participated in a number of professional development in-services. These include Accelerated Reader Workshop, Religious Education, T.I. P. Training, Teacher-to-Teacher, Virus Training, Language Arts in-service, Writing-to-Read Workshop, and testing seminars.

In addition, there are a total of seven administrative personnel including two after-school daycare teachers, secretary, maintenance, security guard, and a coach/ Physical Education (PE) teacher. Most of the administrative support staff is full time with less than five years in service.

In 2003 - 2004 School Year, 39 students graduated from St. Gregory Nazianzen School. Seventeen female students and sixteen male students successfully entered private Catholic High Schools, which is over eighty percent of the graduating students.

School funds continue to be a challenged in most private Catholic schools. Therefore, St. Gregory Nazianzen School conducts fundraising drives, which includes chocolate sales, carnival raffle tickets, King and Queen ticket sale, and the Christmas gift fundraising. An estimated amount of $35,000 is raised annually for the school to assist in making school-wide improvements, purchases of materials, books, and important equipment, and securing teacher salary. The school also continues to seek additional grants and other funding source to ensure the continuity of other projects and programs and providing updated and accessible tools and equipment for the school community.

Overall, St. Gregory Nazianzen School provides an exceptional environment for students to gain quality education and experience while learning and exercising their Catholic faith. The faculty and administration is determined and committed to providing the students with the tools and skills they need in preparation for high school and most importantly, in serving he general society through their faith in God.