The Hance Family Foundation Donates $15K to Improve Classrooms
Some say all roads lead to one very special landmark in the Floral Park community. In 1931, Our Lady of Victory Catholic School (OLV) opened and the first class graduated. Until the school building was finished in 1932, the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Brentwood, taught the students in the convent. In 1962, a new wing was added to the building. Now, 79 years later, the school remains a well-respected source of inspiration and learning, with approximately 500 students from nursery school to eighth grade.
The Floral Park Dispatch spoke with OLV’s principal of 12 years, Mrs. Margaret Augello, to talk about new initiatives for the upcoming school year. Augello, a Bronx native, says she is extremely pleased to see a few of the classes go all the way through the program from ages 3 to 13. “It’s a very wonderful thing to be able to watch them grow up and see how they come from babies to people who are ready for high school.” While she is not a current resident of the community, she expressed her appreciation for the Village of Floral Park’s devotion to learning and family values. “The children are first…It’s a very child-centered community [Floral Park]. People and the parents, the teachers will do anything for the children and that’s the kind of community they look for. And the fact that OLV is the center of town…and everyone knows everyone. It’s a very good place,” she said.
Accredited by the middle states association of colleges and schools, OLV recently announced the expansion of kindergarten classes beginning in September 2010. Mrs. Augello says one of the reasons for the additional class was due to an increase in enrollment, which was made possible in part by a $15,000 donation from one of Floral Park’s own charitable organizations. “The Hance Family Foundation has given us some funding so that we can furnish and provide materials both for the new kindergarten class and to update some of the other kindergarten classes. Part of the funds will be used for new furniture and equipment in the existing kindergartens as well,” she explained.
The kindergarten classes will have between 20 and 25 students, which will be instructed by a full-time teacher and an assistant, who will be there for the majority of the day. Mrs. Augello says the program offers all the typical things kindergarteners do and then some. “The exciting thing about our kindergarten [classes] is that not only do they come out reading with a basic knowledge of math, but the day is busy with songs, activities that enhance the curriculum and the religion aspect.” The students begin and end their day in prayer and they attend Mass and services with the rest of the schoolchildren.
According to its website, the staff includes 18 teachers K-grade eight; two teachers pre-kindergarten and nursery; five teachers for special programs in art, music, computer, library and Spanish; and one full-time school nurse. The school features 20 classrooms, a library relocated and updated, a fully equipped computer lab with 21 stations, two computers in every classroom, Internet access, a gymnasium, art room, resource room, two rolling science laboratories, and two rolling media carts, which are accessible to all classrooms.
The school’s approach to education focuses not only on learning but also spiritual growth, according to Augello. “We address the whole child, every part of child development is acknowledged and that’s how we develop the curriculum and the good thing about having an assistant in the room is that it allows the teacher to focus on the individual child as well. So we can differentiate as we go through the year and as they go through the school day,” she said.
Mrs. Augello says she has continually received positive feedback from parents and the administration keeps in constant communication with them. “Parents are encouraged to come and visit the classroom,” she said. As the 2010-11 school year approaches, Mrs. Augello says many of the school’s different clubs and student organizations are committed to making a difference. “We are always looking to do things that will benefit and have impact the community,” she said.
Tricia GaNun, a volunteer and parent of two students at OLV, says she often hears many stories of families who have attended the school for generations. “They left and they came back and they grew up here and they choose to settle and raise their families here, and now, their children. My husband had attended OLV and it’s nice to see they are in their father’s school,” she said. “It’s your foundation as you are growing and you have those good memories and they always stay with you.”
Mrs. Augello says her favorite part of her job is when students come back and tell her stories about their experience at OLV. “They are always very excited; they always have very good memories to share,” she said. “When I am walking through with people and they can tell me what happened in the classroom all those years ago like where they sat, who the teacher was, what grade it was. Their memories are so vivid…What makes OLV different is the teachers, the parents and the students, that combination and the way that the relationships develop over the years, she said, adding “As they go on to high school, they still come back to visit the seventh- and eighth-grade teachers. That’s a very nice thing.”
Our Lady of Victory Parish and School is located at 2 Bellmore St., Floral Park. Registration is ongoing for the kindergarten program all year long. Parents of prospective students are invited to obtain more information by calling the school office beginning Aug. 23 at 516-352-4466; or visit www.olvfp.org.