Mary, Seat of Wisdom School has served the Park Ridge, Illinois community for over 50 years. Knowing that all students learn best when they feel secure, MSW teachers, administrators and parents work closely together to provide a safe and nurturing learning environment with a strong Catholic identity. Our mission, “to empower our students with the knowledge, values, and skills which will enable them to become active participants and effective leaders in both the church and world community,” serves as the touchstone for everything we do. At its core, the development of the whole child includes the fostering of faith, and goes beyond a basic religion curriculum. Instruction includes a rich sacramental program with discussion of theological doctrine and experiences designed to encourage students to follow Christ as a way of life.
The MSW community has a strong social consciousness and works to raise students’ awareness of the needs of others in the broader world community. MSW students are from middle to upper middle class households from both suburban and city communities. MSW teaches children that with blessings come responsibilities, and each year the Catholic Identity theme puts an emphasis on social outreach to the poor in the surrounding communities, the nation, and the world. This year’s all-school service learning project, H2O for Life, provides MSW students with a global vision as they connect with a partner school in Africa, to raise funds which will provide a clean water source for that school.
MSW offers students the best of both worlds: an education steeped in over fifty years of tradition, as well as the advantages of recent advances in technology and curricular innovation. Recent changes have brought facility expansion and improvements that include a second gym, a stage, and updated computer and science labs. Program additions include a three and four year old pre-school program, an all day kindergarten program, an extended day care program, and a hot lunch program. Recent curricular highlights include in-house services for students with special needs (resource, speech, and social), Spanish taught in all grades, media, and technology classes. MSW integrates new technologies, not only in the classroom with the recent addition of Promethean Boards, Smart Tables, and a mobile lap top lab, but also through its school website, online grades, and e-mail communication.
MSW’s academic program is extended through a wide variety of extracurricular activities, which include Student Council, yearbook, athletics, academic bowls, performing arts, and robotic activities. Over one hundred-fifty MSW students participate in the student service organization, Kids Who Care. Traditional annual events include the fourth grade production of The Nutcracker, a Grandparents Day celebration, a Veterans Day assembly, Red Ribbon Week, junior high trips to Springfield, Illinois and Washington, D. C., the fifth grade Wax Museum, junior high dances, an all school Talent Show and Spirit Week activities.
Activities which enhance MSW’s Catholic Identity mission include participation in Catholic Schools Week, the third grade All Saints Day celebration, the first grade Nativity re-enactment, the eighth grade production of the Living Stations of the Cross, and May crowning. Monthly all-school Catholic Identity assemblies provide meaning and explanation of the various service learning activities of the school.
The focus on mission, lived out through a community of engaged teachers, students, and parents in a resource-rich environment, has established a vibrant, vital learning community in a state-of-the art facility. Parental involvement, through a strong Family School Association (FSA) provides over two hundred active school volunteers. The FSA also plan activities for the school families, students, and faculty that add to the spirit of the community. Financial donations of the wider parish membership allow for the parish to contribute thirteen percent of the cost of each child’s education.
MSW is looking ahead to changing school demographics due to an aging area population, the necessity of increased financial assistance, and an increasingly diverse student body. The Board of Specified Jurisdiction has initiated a long- range plan for the school, including academic and financial forecasts. Marketing efforts are being expanded to attract students from an expanded area. This year’s financial assistance rose 10% to $73,000 in awards. The faculty is academically preparing for a change in student population due to increased English Language Learners, up from 2% to 20% of the current kindergarten class.
Students are proud of MSW, creating a connection that lasts beyond high school and college. Multiple generations of families who have attended MSW and five alumni presently on faculty attest to the strong tradition. Seven MSW staff members currently send their own children to the school. At MSW, a strong mission and a strong tradition combined with a faculty and administration committed to academic excellence and innovation, have created a rich, nurturing learning experience in which students thrive spiritually, academically, and socially.