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St. Augustine Academy (SAA), located in Norristown, PA, is an independent tuition-free, after-school program for girls in grades two, three and four. SAA’s mission is to supplement classroom learning by offering academic support and enrichment through exposure to the arts, while emphasizing life skills and building self-esteem. We do this by providing assistance with homework and by encouraging leadership and life skills in a stable, cooperative and supportive environment.
The current enrollment of 30 girls comes mainly from Gotwals, Hancock, and Cole Manor Elementary schools; part of the Norristown Area School District. We serve a diverse population of African-American, Hispanic, and Caucasian families. A significant number of the girls come from low-income and/or single parent households.
Our program operates from 3 to 6 PM every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, concurrent with the Norristown Area School District’s schedule. After arriving by bus, paid for and provided by SAA, our girls begin their day with a well-balanced, nutritious meal prepared by the volunteers. Sitting down together offers time to refuel, as well as to socialize and converse with friends and our volunteers. The girls take turns beginning our meal time by offering a moment of gratitude and end this time by sharing clean-up responsibilities.
Following the meal, we move into our gentle stretching and meditation time. We prepare our bodies and minds for our creative activities by moving through yoga vinyasas, practicing our balanced breathing, and finding stillness and quiet in our bodies for a few moments. Weighted lap pads and quiet music help the girls to calm themselves and transition from their school day to their time at SAA.
After this quiet time, the girls are divided into three groups and each day, our community partners come to SAA to engage the students in their creative explorations. We currently work with Wayne Art Center, Theatre Horizon, and Rotation Records who offer classes in music composition, drama, visual arts, and cooking. Classes are offered to each group for an intensive 8 week session before rotating to the next group. When not engaged with a community partner, the girls participate in Discovery; a time devoted to reading and writing enrichment along with free play in our various learning centers.
Most of our staff are volunteers, many being retired educators with a diverse background in teaching led by our Director of Education, Amy Grebe. In addition, high school students help with homework as part of their school community service. We believe that parental involvement is important to our mission, so we also ask parents to volunteer some service for at least eight hours per year.
As SAA is 501 (c)(3) organization, we rely on contributions provided by our generous donors. Development efforts are spearheaded by Terri McKendry, our latest addition to the SAA staff.
SAA is a small organization at this time, but we have big plans for growth and expansion over the coming years. Our Board’s 100% participation attests to its strong belief in our mission. On behalf of SAA’s management team, volunteers, students and their families, we sincerely appreciate your consideration.