The first day of school is less than two weeks away for students of Saint Albert the Great At Assumption Academy. The new school year marks the official start of Saint Albert the Great’s multi-year management of Assumption Academy, which stood on the brink of closure last year.
Edward Vittardi, who currently serves as both principal of Saint Albert the Great School and head of school for Saint Albert the Great At Assumption Academy, provided a full list of updates and progress on the partnership between the two institutions and the new changes that have been made in preparation for the 2019-20 academic year.
In the way of facilities, the Broadview Heights parochial school has received renovations to its library, now called the Learning Commons, and a Fox 8 TV Studio donated by Dean DePiero is being completed that mirrors the studio at Saint Albert the Great School. Thanks to grant dollars and Parent CORPS assistance, a new security entrance and main office will greet incomers, along with the implementation of the Raptor System, which checks all school visitors’ driver’s licenses against an online police database and prints visitor identification badges. The entire school building has a security system in place and staff have key scan badges. Vittardi notes these changes were made possible by a State of Ohio Security Grant. In addition, the school’s computers have been relocated and the hard drives upgraded. Virtual reality technology called “Z Space Units” are now housed in the building’s middle school wing, Vittardi said, that will aid in science, math and language arts instruction. Starting this school year, Algebra 1 will be an in-school option for eighth graders. In years past, students traveled to Saint Ignatius for the course.
Richard Kaliszewski takes the helm as new principal of Saint Albert the Great At Assumption Academy, along with newly hired kindergarten teacher Erica Yacobozzi, first grade teacher Tessa Rivera, third grade teacher Coletta Thellmann, fifth grade teacher Rachel Sekerak, art/technology teacher Amy Schneider, physical education teacher Brandy Tepley, math aide Kathleen Swartz, and Kelley Mocho in the main office with Karen Fox. Shelly Orzel, who will partner with Elizabeth Arms formerly of Saint Columbkille, will supplement her two days teaching Spanish with three additional days as an educational aide, Vittardi said. Regarding preschool education, Kristen Dziedziak, a former Assumption Academy teacher, will make her return, along with newcomer Christine Siegel. With newly implemented staffing savings, Vittardi announced Assumption is now financially stable for the next three years. A State of the School Address is set for Oct. 1.
“I’m fiscally conservative and I’m always trying to find the dollars that are out there,” Vittardi said. “I also believe that people are a part of it and that it’s networking.”
Vittardi, whose resume includes posts at North Royalton City Schools as superintendent, administrator and middle school principal, said he’s never let go of the immense financial experience he gained running a multimillion-dollar city school budget. He’s spent the last several months examining every aspect of how the Broadview Heights parochial school is run and managed. When it came to Assumption, there were dollars not being used and grant sources, and state/federal money not being realized, Vittardi said. Enrollment currently stands at 145 students and Vittardi believes the real spike will come in the 2020-21 school year, when the vision is more present and tangible to new families. At the start of Saint Albert’s partnership with Assumption, Vittardi said it was more about painting a vision of what could be.
“The arrangement we have is unheard of,” said Saint Albert the Great Pastor Edward Estok. “That a parish school would be invited by another parish to help revivify their school and the pastor there is voluntarily handing over the parts of administration to another parish. He (Church of the Assumption Pastor Justin Dyrwal) deserves a lot of credit and the people of Assumption deserve a lot of the credit.”
While it isn’t a merger and the Broadview Heights school will continue to be subsidized by its church, the partnership is truly unique and special, as those closely tied to the endeavor know. Leadership at the Broadview Heights church and parochial school reached out to officials at Saint Albert last year to better understand their success and leverage their knowledge to help save Assumption Academy from shuttering.
Newly hired Principal Richard Kaliszewski, formerly of St. Thomas More School, began his post July 1. He’s worked to rewrite the parent-student handbook to more closely mirror Saint Albert’s and manage the restructuring of the Assumption school building.
“To be a part of it from the beginning is very exciting and when I think of what it will be like in the future, years from now, it’s very exciting,” he said.
Kaliszewski, whose wife is a preschool teacher at Saint Albert the Great School, said he is drawn to Vittardi’s big-picture thinking. He hopes the community finds comfort in the long-standing traditions of Assumption and that families discover and realize all the many new benefits of Saint Albert the Great At Assumption Academy.
Assumption’s roots date back all the way to the mid-1800s and its longtime history and ministry is something many people appreciate and love, Estok said.
“What I’ve seen already just in their preparations and the enthusiasm and the hope in these last few months, I truly believe Assumption’s parish school will be revivified and that it will be the heartbeat and at the center of that parish,” he said.
Contributing Writer