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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 skills with a focus on manners, respect, and taking responsibility – all in a stable, cooperative and supportive environment.
The current enrollment of 30 girls comes mainly from Gotwals Elementary and Hancock Elementary schools. 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 bus, paid for and provided by SAA, our girls engage in a ten-minute circle time with our program director. During this time, the girls have one minute of silence to lie down, close their eyes, meditate, and relax. This gives the girls the girls some time to calm themselves after having been in school all day and get ready to transition into SAA. After the minute of silence, the girls remain in the circle and go around to answer the question of the day. For example: favorite color, favorite food, what makes you happy, when do you feel proud, what do you want to be when you grow up, etc. The purpose of this is to get to know each other little by little, everyday.
After circle time the girls are served a well-balanced, nutritious meal prepared by the volunteers with occasional help from the girls or their parents. Sitting down together offers time to refuel, as well as to socialize and converse with friends. During this time each girl has the opportunity to be a “table captain.” This position requires her be responsible for that day’s meal from delivery to the table to clean up. The captains also lead the girls in a favorite activity, the SAA cheer. Following mealtime, volunteers lead our girls in a creative activity. Monday’s project revolves around cooking and nutrition. On Wednesdays we engage the girls in art and design. Thursdays are devoted to dramatic experiences. In addition to these activities, we regularly bring in individuals who share their talents and interests in areas, such as yoga, dance, pottery and quilt making. We end our day by offering homework support.
For additional enrichment, we have taken our girls and some of their parents on field trips to the Barnes Foundation, the Walnut Street Theatre, People’s Light & Theatre, and an organic farm. We have also funded four week summer sessions to Norristown’s ACPPA Community Art Center and have provided one week art camp sessions at the Wayne Art Center.
Most of our staff are volunteers, many being retired educators with a diverse background in teaching. In addition, high school students help with homework as part of their school community service. SAA has one volunteer Spanish liaison and one paid employee: Katherine Neumann is Executive Director, handles Fund Raising and runs the day-to-day operations of the program. In addition, because we believe that parental involvement is important to our mission, we ask parents to volunteer some service for at least eight hours per year.
SAA, which is 501 (c)(3) accredited, greatly needs funding for general operating expenses. SAA is a small organization at this time, but we hope to add another class and extend our program to more days per week. 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.
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.
None of this would be possible without the generosity of our friends and donors.
Some of the most recent contributors to SAA are: