Walsh/STCS Families Want a Better School. We’re Listening.

Archbishop Walsh Academy/Southern Tier Catholic School values our students and families. We’re all that we have – the Walsh/STCS family – in today’s educational landscape. 

Your children, and our shared values toward a better tomorrow. 

As we move toward new beginnings at a new location, we’re now enjoying clarity that we haven’t experienced in years. We can now truly focus on the future. We wanted your input on how to make the Walsh/STCS experience fruitful for students on their journeys, easy for families guiding them, and enjoyable for everyone involved. 

Many thanks to those who took the recent Walsh/STCS Family Survey for their honest assessments. The truth is, as educators, we can observe our environment and analyze student performance, but without the family perspective our efforts can go only so far. 

You spoke. We listened. Now it’s time for our honest assessment and to reassure your desires for a better school.

Family Survey Results & Insights: Building a Better Walsh/STCS

The recent Family Survey to gather feedback on various aspects of our private Catholic school, including:

Quality of Overall Academics

  • Very satisfied – 6%
  • Satisfied – 31%
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied – 31%
  • Dissatisfied – 16%
  • Very dissatisfied – 16%

Quality of Teaching

  • Very satisfied – 5%
  • Satisfied – 39%
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied – 17%
  • Dissatisfied – 28%
  • Very dissatisfied – 11%

Meeting Family and Student Needs

  • Very satisfied – 11%
  • Satisfied – 47%
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied – 26%
  • Dissatisfied – 11%
  • Very dissatisfied – 5%

Quality of Communication

  • Very satisfied – 15%
  • Satisfied – 20%
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied – 20%
  • Dissatisfied – 25%
  • Very dissatisfied – 20%

Administrative Performance

  • Very satisfied – 5%
  • Satisfied – 21%
  • Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied – 37%
  • Dissatisfied – 21%
  • Very dissatisfied – 16%

Beyond the Numbers: How Walsh/STCS Can Improve

We could easily look at the top of the “Quality of Overall Academics” responses and say, “Great, 37% are at least satisfied in a world that’s hard to please everyone.” But we’d like to address the 63% – the vast majority – the 31% who are neither satisfied nor dissatisfied and the 32% who are dissatisfied (or beyond). 

Similarly, we could rejoice that slightly more than half of “Meeting Family and Student Needs” respondents said they were satisfied or better. But what does that mean for slightly less than half left feeling unfulfilled? 

Well, you answered (and we’re listening) here, too. Your comments added much valuable qualitative insight to the quantitative data in the Walsh/STCS Family Survey. Here are some examples:

‘Teachers. Or Lack Thereof.’ … ‘Lack of Quality Teachers is Problematic.’ … ‘Hiring Quality Teachers and Hoping They Stay.’

Many comments addressed the teaching and staffing shortage. While we’re proud of our current teaching staff – and hold them in the highest regard for their expertise – we admit it’s been difficult to get (and keep) good teachers. 

Financial constraints are mostly to blame. The last 10 years or so, especially after losing full Diocese support, hiring the ideal number of teachers at the salaries they deserve has been cost-prohibitive. Adding to the financial woes, the longtime Walsh/STCS building itself has required emergency repairs totalling nearly $100,000 just to remain functional. What’s more, the Diocese property sale process always cast a shadow on our future as a school.

Now, that the St. John’s move is official, we can now invest in teaching and plan for the future of academic programming, as we had intended all along.

‘Offer Activities, Clubs & Leadership Opportunities’ … ‘Athletics are an Important Aspect of Developing Character’ … ‘More Afterschool Clubs & Sports for Younger Students’

We’ve heard you loud and clear. Sports and other extracurricular activities are wonderful opportunities for personal growth and to supplement classroom learning. Students can learn the art of argument in debate club, hone artistic skills in drama club, ponder the human mind in philosophy club – and learn leadership at every turn.

Unfortunately, we’ve been unable to offer such programs and sports programs for all age groups as consistently as we would like. This, too, has been due to fiscal constraints and staffing shortages.

But again, with the financially freeing move to St. John’s, we’ll be able to invest time and resources into enlightening activities once more. We even have plans for online clubs and e-sports as we evolve with the digital age.   

‘Ability to Communicate Issues Home’ … ‘Lack of Follow-Through When We & Other Parents Have Expressed a Concern’ … ‘Lack of Communication from Administration to Parents’

Communication is key to any relationship. It’s true in friendships, marriages, workplaces and schools alike. But 45% of Family Survey respondents were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with communication.

We understand, and apologize if anything has fallen through the cracks for your student(s). That is not our intention. That’s an administrative responsibility – albeit a difficult one when dealing with a student population of any size. Communication gaps likely contribute to 37% being dissatisfied to very dissatisfied with our administrative performance.

We’re already working hard to address this. As we speak, Walsh/STCS administration is researching the best communication apps. A great app not only works wonders for communicating with families in real time, but also to coordinate messaging between multiple parties (ex., teachers to parents with up-to-the-minute updates on classroom projects, parents to teachers coordinating drop-off and pick-up, and administration to parents addressing safety concerns, etc.).

Future Focus: Committed to Improvement at Walsh/STCS

The issues addressed in the Walsh/STCS Family Survey are present in most schools – big and small; public and private – to varying degrees. Their causes and solutions are often multilayered and multifaceted. Academic programming, teaching quality, communication, serving student/family needs and administrative performance are intertwined in many complex ways. 

The Almighty Dollar, of course, is the key catalyst for school success. Teachers can’t be compensated without it. Programs and curriculum can’t be developed. Buildings can’t be maintained.

The move to St. John’s addresses these issues in multiple ways. It relieves financial constraints from maintaining an outdated building and uncertainty where we would call home after the Diocese ultimately sells the property. Walsh/STCS can now more wisely invest time, energy – and money – for positive student impact! 

Overall, the Family Survey results suggest the school is meeting the needs of families and students in some areas, but there are still significant opportunities for improvement in others. We’re committed to improvement, and families and students can be reassured their feedback is guiding our actions. 

Your feedback also acknowledged areas where we perform quite well. Not so coincidentally, they represent our core values and identity. Many families noted they still choose Walsh/STCS for our emphasis on faith-based values in education. Many still prize our small class sizes, nurturing community spirit, and capacity for individualized learning. We still pride ourselves on a 100% graduation rate and that 94% of our graduates attend college – many to the best colleges and universities in the country.

That’s worth celebrating. And so is our commitment to being even better in the future!