There was excitement in the air in Colleen Sadler’s kindergarten and pre-kindergarten room recently. Company was coming.
Knee-high tables were set with worksheets and name tags. Sadler gave instructions and a pep talk to a group of fifth grade ambassadors. Even Sadler’s mother, Karen Klein, was on hand to help with the guests.
It was kindergarten roundup day at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School. Parents of the incoming students had their night earlier in the week. Now it was time for the future students to visit the classroom and get a firsthand look at things.
“The kids will tour the school and do activities so I can see their skill level,” Sadler says. “We’ll have a snack, do playtime and take a picture.”
There is a waiting list for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten at St. Thomas Aquinas. The class size is capped at 17.
“We don’t want to go above that number,” Sadler says. “We pride ourselves on our class size. We can meet each individual’s need with the smaller groups.”
Sadler says she would like to do away with fixed grade levels and let the students move from group to group. As an example, she said that one of her kindergarten students goes to the first grade room for reading and math.
“Our goal is to provide individual instruction,” she says.
Sadler grew up in Webster City and went to school here. Her two boys — one in fifth grade and one a sophomore in high school — got their start at St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Thomas’ students do well on tests — the sixth grade usually scores two to three years higher on the Iowa Assessments, says Sadler — but what is most important, she says, is teaching the kids how to treat other people.
“We stress a lot of respect for each other,” Sadler says. “The fact that I can bring religion into it adds another dimension. We all want to go to heaven, so it’s important to be kind.”
“The academics are important, but we want to make good people,” Sadler says. “I want my kids to be able to read and do math, but what’s important is to be good people.”