Volume 79, Number 23 | November 11 - 17, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Progress Report

A special Villager supplement


Young students at Academy of St. Joseph engage in some “urban planning,” and music.

Elite academy is now up to 25 students, and growing

By Stephanie Pedersen

Good things are happening at Academy of St. Joseph! A.O.S.J. began as a dream to combine high-caliber, gifted-level education with nurturing inspiration to help children develop high moral character, deep compassion and intellectual competence. In fall 2007, Academy of St. Joseph opened its doors in a gloriously remodeled, light-filled building on Washington Place. The school boasted three students. Now in its third year, with 25 students ranging from pre-kindergarten to second grade, the school has developed a local reputation for joyful instruction, exceptional learning and nurturing of the entire family. Next year the school will expand to third grade, with additional grades to be added through eighth grade.

From its inception, Academy of St. Joseph has dedicated itself to excellence. 

“This commitment has only deepened with time,” said Angela Coombs, head of school. Students enjoy math, reading, hands-on science, French and Italian, public speaking, music, art history and studio art, social sciences, North American and world history, an innovative phys-ed program that teaches sports skills while building motor skills and coordination, a preschool soccer program, off-site swimming and a whole-foods lunch program designed to nurture students’ bodies and minds while introducing them to food of the world. 

To help students excel through adulthood, etiquette, social skills and empathy are woven into every lesson taught at the school. And of course, there is gentle instruction in Character, Competence and Compassion, the school’s motto.

As enrollment has increased, so have the opportunities. A.O.S.J.’s after-school enrichment program now offers age-appropriate options for preschoolers on up. Some of these, such as soccer, dance and music-movement classes, are physical. Others, including violin and ceramics, offer extra opportunities in the arts. Still others, such as debate and chess, challenge children intellectually. During the summer, a themed summer camp is open to the public and features half-day and full-day options.

“A large part of A.O.S.J.’s success is due to its educators,” said Coombs. To be a teacher at Academy of St. Joseph requires a New York State license, talent, enthusiasm, patience and a deep love of children, as well as a master’s degree and the willingness to expand one’s horizons with out-of-class learning, including monthly development courses led by New York University, advanced degrees and other professional enrichments. “Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders, something taken very seriously at A.O.S.J.,” Coombs said. “To grow these leaders requires a special breed of educator.” 

As the school has grown, so has the parent body, which works together to institute new programs. One of its latest projects is a parent education series on subjects as wide reaching as “helping your child be a leader” to the treatment of childhood anxiety. Held monthly, these seminars are open not only to A.O.S.J. families, but to the public and educators from other schools. For that’s the essence of Academy of St. Joseph: Working together to create excellence in tomorrow’s leaders. 

For more information, call Ms. Coombs at 212-243-5420 or visit www.academyofsaintjoseph.org to schedule a visit. 

Pederson is school development officer, Academy of St. Joseph

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