Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Spokane’s St. Patrick School moves to Montessori model

by Father Kenny St. Hilaire, for the Inland Register

(From the July 19, 2012 edition of the Inland Register)

There’s something new happening at St. Patrick School in Spokane. The word on the street says the school is closing, but in reality the St. Patrick community is gearing up for its second century of Catholic education.

For nearly 100 years, St. Patrick School has provided for children in the Hillyard neighborhood a quality education imbued with Catholic values. And even though this school, like many Catholic schools, has seen decreasing enrollment and financial hardship for many years, St. Patrick has no intention of closing its doors. The parish community is firmly committed to keeping its beloved school open.

To that end, the parish is embarking on a process of restructuring and rebuilding its school. It aims to offer a new educational program that will bring long-term growth and greater stability to the struggling century-old institution.

At the heart of this process is a change from the traditional program of education to one that uses the Montessori Method. Montes-sori education is known for its multiple-age classrooms and hands-on, student-directed learning. The method, originally designed to improve learning for children with disabilities, allows students to advance at the pace that suits them best. Thus it also proves advantageous for gifted children as well as students of any ability level.

Although Montessori education has come to be associated with people of great means, we want to make this quality education available to everyone at St. Patrick.

Montessori education has proven to be very effective, and perhaps that is one of the reasons it is in such high demand not only locally, but nationally and even abroad. The method is not explicitly Catholic, as is clear from the large number of secular Montessori schools that exist; however, the method lends itself very well to a Catholic context.

In fact, a method of Catholic catechesis using the Montessori Method has been developed and implemented for almost 40 years. The program, called the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, offers a weekly catechetical session in which children learn their faith through hands-on activities with materials specifically designed for the program.

At St. Patrick School, where the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd will be part of the Montessori program, the Missionaries of Charity will be the primary catechists, but parishioners will also be involved as volunteer assistants.

The 2012-2013 school year will be spent preparing to open the first Montessori classroom in the fall of 2013. In the meantime, St. Patrick will continue to offer its traditional pre-kindergarten program, along with the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

The rebuilding process will start small, but with growing interest and a constantly improving program, the St. Patrick community hopes to see its school thrive once more.

To support St. Patrick School, or to obtain more information, call (509)487-2830 or email:

(Father St. Hilaire is pastor of St. Patrick Parish, Spokane.)

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