BY AMY BARBEE | PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOM III GALLERY, LLC SEPT 2016
A strong sense of community and giving of oneself characterize the atmosphere of St. Peter Claver Catholic School (SPCCS). Located in historic Macon, the school now serves 172 students in pre-K through eighth grades. It was founded in 1903 by Saint Katharine Drexel, with the approval of the Diocese of Savannah, to educate the underserved African American and Native American children in Macon. Approximately, eighty percent of the present student body are non-Catholic. They come from very diverse socio-economic and religious backgrounds.
The school is still owned by the Catholic Diocese of Savannah. The Most Rev. Gregory J. Hartmayer, O.F.M., Conv. is the Bishop of the Diocese, and Fr. William McIntyre, O.F.M. is the pastor of both St. Peter Claver Catholic Church and the school. Sister Cheryl accepted the mission to serve as principal at SPCCS in July 2014.
Prior to that, Sister Cheryl served as principal of DePaul Catholic School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Sister Cheryl holds a bachelor of science in elementary/special education and a master’s of science in administration and supervision from St. John’s University in New York. She taught in the classroom for eight years and spent 22 years in administration: 10 years as an assistant principal and 12 years as principal, respectively.
The mission of SPCCS is to educate the hearts and minds of students from diverse backgrounds so that, in the spirit of the Gospel, they are academically prepared and service-oriented. Its number one priority is to prepare its students to be successful in high school and college, and to become contributing members of society as adults. It offers merit- and need-based scholarships.
“Our students . . . are taught that, as a part of a large faith family, we serve others, especially those in need,” says Sister Cheryl. Service is an important part of the SPCCS community. Students participate in the Food Drive, peer-to-peer tutoring through PALS at L.H. Williams Elementary, reading with SPCCS preschool through first grade students, structured writing assignments with lower elementary students, the church’s food pantry by preparing peanut butter sandwich bag lunches for the underserved, visiting Daybreak, singing for the residents of Blair House, and working at the Georgia Food Bank.
St. Peter Claver is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Florida Catholic Conference. The school’s curriculum follows the Diocese of Savannah and the Georgia Performance Standards.
The school is collaborating with Mercer University’s Townsend School of Music and School of Medicine to offer fine arts and science education opportunities to SPCCS students. The faculty and staff believe in a nurturing, rigorous academic environment that challenges students to reach higher expectations while at the same time learning in a faith-based, values-oriented environment.
SPCCS students in the fifth through eighth grades that maintain a high grade point average and show exceptional achievement, leadership, character, and service are invited for induction into the National Junior BETA Club program. The school has implemented the on-line First in Math Program, which reinforces math skills from basic numbers to higher algebra. The second grade teacher, Liz Milam, is ranked number one among the First in Math teachers in Georgia and in the top 10 nationally.
SPCCS fifth graders participate in the S’COOL Project—a partnership with NASA scientists and approximately 3,000 other students in 84 countries. They help gather data as part of a global research project to discover how clouds affect the climate.
The school’s Terra Nova Scores in reading, language, and math are on or above grade level. Students who enter SPCCS early and remain until eighth grade graduate with standardized test scores on the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grade levels. SPCCS’ extracurricular activities include music lessons, archery, basketball, soccer, school newspaper, yearbook, and martial arts.
Saint Peter Claver is proud of its alumni, who include Dr. Ivan Allen, president of Central Georgia Technical College; Drew Larkin, Diocese of Savannah Seminarian who is currently studying in Rome, Italy; Dr. A. Monica McMillan, M.D.; Mr. J.T. Thomas, Christian Motivational Speaker and three-time Super Bowl Winner; Tina McElroy Ansa, African American novelist, filmmaker, and journalist; and Sgt. Rodney Maxwell Davis, Medal of Honor winner.
Daily tours and student shadow visits are available. #