St. John the Evangelist School welcomes all children of the parish to a Christ-centered education of the whole person. Enter the school website here.
An air of intrigue and barely-controlled glee filled the auditorium of St. John the Evangelist School in Silver Spring, MD on the morning of May 19, 2014, as students, faculty, staff, and parents prepared for a surprise assembly in honor of their principal, Sr. Kathleen Lannak, IHM. Sr. Kathleen was presented with the Archdiocese of Washington’s award for 2014 Principal of the Year. This prestigious honor is bestowed each year on a principal who has demonstrated accomplishment in six categories: balancing management and leadership roles, setting high expectations and standards, stressing content and instruction that ensures student achievement, creating a culture of professional development for teachers, using multiple tools to apply and assess instructional improvements, and actively engaging the school community. The entire student body, teachers, staff, and many parents gathered to cheer for Sr. Kathleen as Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of Washington, Dr. Bert L’Homme and Assistant Superintendent Kelly Branaman presented the award. Also on hand were St. John the Evangelist Pastor, Monsignor John Pennington, the rectory staff, the entire community of IHM sisters living at St. John the Evangelist convent, and Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D) of Maryland’s 8th Congressional District.
Students representing each class offered Sr. Kathleen flowers and handmade cards and posters congratulating and thanking her for thirty-four years of dedicated service, as well as for her wisdom and the love with which she approaches every child. Third grade teacher, Mrs. Christine Callabro, spoke movingly about the way in which Sr. Kathleen mentors teachers, helps them deal with challenges in and out of the classroom, and faces every circumstance in life with love and faith in the Lord Jesus. Congressman Van Hollen spoke about the first time he worked with Sister Kathleen, when she was instrumental in ensuring that an area of land near to St. John the Evangelist would not be turned into yet another development but instead would be set aside as green space. Because of these efforts, hundreds of St. John the Evangelist school children have been able to enjoy their end-of-year picnics at nearby Getty Park.
Sister Kathleen was delighted and honored by the recognition, but was also flabbergasted that the school and rectory staff had managed to keep the award and assembly completely secret. She teasingly chided everyone for being “a bunch of sneaks” in the midst of a flurry of end-of-year activities. Responding to the award with her characteristic humility and grace, Sr. Kathleen told the assembled group that, despite whatever challenges she has faced, coming in to St. John the Evangelist School every day reminds her that each moment we are given is our opportunity to live in the present and to make our family, our school, and our community a better place because we were there. Sr. Kathleen has lived her life in service to Jesus Christ in his community of St. John the Evangelist parish and school. We thank God for this wonderful woman and we thank her for all she has done for us. As school secretary, Mrs. Angela Colburn said, we are happy that everyone now recognizes what we have always known – Sr. Kathleen is the best!
Article Written By: Colleen Zarzecki
Photos By: Jessica Love
To see more pictures from the assembly, check our our Parish Photo Galleries page in the Community section. http://www.sjeparish.org/community/galleries
On September 24, 2013, the auditorium exploded with cheers and vigorous waving of blue pompoms as Sr. Kathleen Lannak announced that St. John the Evangelist had been selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. One of only fifty private schools in the nation to be given this designation in 2013, SJE was also one of only seven Maryland elementary schools, public or private, to win the honor as a “high-performing” school. That means that SJE was ranked among the highest performing schools in reading and math, with its students testing in the top ten percent of all students in the state in those areas.
Public and private schools submit applications that discuss all aspects of a school’s “personality”: student academic achievement, school culture, extracurricular activities, and parent involvement. Sr. Kathleen noted that a particularly strong aspect of SJE’s application was our emphasis on building a culture of virtue and also the vital sense of community that anyone who enters the school immediately understands.
Administrators and teachers kept the news of the designation secret from the students, only telling them to wear blue to school today and that Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout, who is also the former pastor of SJE parish, was coming to visit. Mystified students arrived at school to find blue balloons, a ribbon-bedecked entrance, and teachers wearing blue. Their excitement was palpable as they filled the auditorium; their cheers when Sister Kathleen made the announcement were deafening.
Sister Kathleen, Bishop Knestout, and SJE’s current pastor, Monsignor John Pennington, congratulated students and teachers alike for this high honor. Each of them noted that the students’ hard work was the reason for this designation, but also emphasized that SJE is a place where students are recognized for more than hard work and achievement – they are seen as beloved children of God who are called to love the Lord and one another so that they can go into the world to make it a better place after their time at SJE. After the speeches, the entire school, administrative staff, the Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, teachers, students, and parents in attendance gathered for photos. As a special treat, teachers handed out blue lollipops to the very excited and happy students.
See U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan’s announcement of the 2013 National Blue Ribbon Schools winners here: http://www.ed.gov/news/press-
Written By: Colleen Zarzecki
Photos By: Michael Colella
For more information about the parish school or to arrange a visit, contact:
Sr. Kathleen Lannak, I.H.M.
St. John the Evangelist School
10201 Woodland Dr.
Silver Spring, MD 20902