Log in
    

Mount St. Joseph Academy efforts produce rise in enrollment

   Sarah Fortier (above) principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, has seen the education at the school change the lives of students and vows to work tirelessly to continue to grow the enrollment.  She attributes that growth to multiple factors including the work of the Marketing and Development Committee. Submitted photo Sarah Fortier (above) principal of Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland, has seen the education at the school change the lives of students and vows to work tirelessly to continue to grow the enrollment. She attributes that growth to multiple factors including the work of the Marketing and Development Committee.
As the 2016-2017 school year approaches, Mount St. Joseph Academy is heading toward its enrollment goal of 90 students.

With 83 students as of July 12, Principal Sarah Fortier was hopeful that the goal would be reached by opening day, Aug. 31.

When she arrived as principal in 2014, enrollment was at 66, just two away from the lowest enrollment, which happened the next year and a far cry from a high of nearly 500 in 1964.

“MSJ has struggled as all other small schools. A lot of it is demographics,” Fortier said.

But the hard work MSJ supporters have put into the enrollment situation is paying off. “MSJ is a wonderful community and people are starting to see first hand the type of education available and the caliber of students that are graduating from MSJ,” said the principal, a 1999 graduate of the Catholic high school. “We have had 100 percent college placement over the past three years.”

Also, the high school has partnered with The College of St. Joseph in Rutland so that any student who graduates from MSJ can attend the college for two years tuition free.

She attributes enrollment growth also to other positive things happening at the school: MSJ athletic teams have had tremendous success; the music program offers personal lessons to any student who would like them in any instrument. The faculty is dedicated to providing a top-notch education to all students. 

“We have incredible diversity in our student population, and students get a worldview while walking the halls at The Mount,” she said. “Most importantly, MSJ teaches the Catholic values and morals necessary to navigate life in a very trying world.”

As of July 11, there were 11 non-Vermont students enrolled in Mount St. Joseph Academy, but Diversity Committee Chair Paul Gallo said there was the potential for 16-20 by opening day.

“It’s just wonderful. They are bringing the ‘melting pot’ right to Convent Avenue in Rutland” where the school is located, he said.

Last year he and his wife, Ingrid, hosted two Haitian students, which he said was a “great experience.”

Many of the international and diversity students come to Mount St. Joseph to prepare for college and are the first in their families to go on to higher education.

Because of Rutland’s own lack of diversity, these students bring a “flavor of the world” to the school, said Gallo, a member of the Marketing and Development Committee. “It makes for a nice education for local kids, preparing them for the world today.”

“Out-of-state students are just like all the other students at MSJ,” Fortier said. “Specifically the students from New York City have come to MSJ looking for the opportunity for a better education in a safe environment. They bring a new worldview to our local students. Students from other countries have provided knowledge of the bigger world and have shared so much of their culture with us. It is a wonderful opportunity to have these fantastic kids with us!”

She said supporters of the school can help by spreading the word about the students’ successes, by bringing future “Mounties” to the school to see how wonderful the MSJ community is and by encouraging future students to participate in a “shadow day” to learn more about the school.

Students, too, are involved in attracting other students to the school. For example, several students left MSJ to go to another, bigger school. “After spending one year there, several decided to return because they missed our community,” Fortier said. “They have become very involved in getting more students to our school.”

Also, the student ambassador groups have been working with the school’s marketing committee. They have taken to social media to get in touch with students and to invite them to different events. 

As enrollment increases, Fortier said she is “glad to see that everyone is finally seeing the positive results.”

Completely dedicated to the mission of MSJ, she believes being principal there is a vocation to which she has been called. “I believe the MSJ community is the best Rutland has to offer. I have seen the education at MSJ change the lives of students. I also believe that being a graduate of MSJ put me on the right track for success in my life,” she said, vowing to work tirelessly to continue to grow the enrollment.  

Article written by Cori Fugere Urban, Vermont Catholic staff writer.
Last modified onMonday, 15 August 2016 15:58
Cori Fugere Urban

Cori Urban is a longtime writer for the communications efforts of the Diocese of Burlington and former editor of The Vermont Catholic Tribune.

Bishop's Fund Annual Appeal