Everything at SJA starts and ends with the mission, and so we’re not just here to get kids ready for a career; we’re here to pass on the faith and educate the whole child, focusing more on who they become rather than simply what they’re able to do

By Shane Rapp, Ed.D, Principal

In 2018, Sam Rockford was one of two finalists in the state of Kansas for the highest honor the federal government awards to teachers: The Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
So why in the world is he not teaching anymore???

“Leaving the classroom was obviously very difficult,” said Rockford. “That’s where my heart has always been and always will be. Having said that, when this new opportunity arose to help students and advance the mission of SJA in a new way, I really felt called to seize it.”

The new opportunity referenced above is the position of “Director of Innovation” established at St. James last year and generously funded by the Brown Family Foundation. This is a role similar in some ways to ST(R)EAM Directors at other schools, with a few key differences.

“Obviously we’ve been watching the changing educational landscape around us over the last decade with many schools moving to an emphasis on STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) subjects, a project-based approach, and a heavy focus on career preparation. Dr. Rapp, Mr. Tylicki, and I all spent time visiting other schools and community partners and meeting with key people in the area over several years to make sure we had a firm grasp on what was happening around us so we could evaluate what was a fit for us.

“Everything at SJA starts and ends with the mission, and so we’re not just here to get kids ready for a career; we’re here to pass on the faith and educate the whole child, focusing more on who they become rather than simply what they’re able to do. While we found that a lot of STEM programs were too narrowly focused for our mission, we also found that there were some steps forward we could take to move our mission forward while also helping our students be able to operate in our quickly changing world.”

Mr. Rockford’s past year has been spent doing a lot of research, reading, visiting, planning, and prayer and conversation with the staff and administration at St. James. The next three promise to bear the fruit of all that work.

“I’m really excited for the fall. We’ll be publishing our three-year strategic plan for St. James, and part of that is going to include the details of our Innovation Initiative that will take place during that time frame. We’ve really been thoughtful and prayerful about how we can stay true to the well-rounded liberal arts education Catholic schools are called to provide, while still taking exciting steps forward in everything from Computer Science to math supports for all students to a dynamic and one-of-a-kind Media Arts program. I think the Holy Spirit has truly guided this process to help us go even deeper in passing on the faith to the next generation, knowing that this next generation faces a world different in many ways from the one previous generations faced.”

While he might not be in the classroom, Mr. Rockford is still serving the students and mission of St. James, and his work promises to spark a lot of conversation and excitement in the coming months and years.

By Shane Rapp, Ed.D, Principal
SJA football quarterback scrambles during pass play

This Isn’t CYO Sports Anymore!

"No one said that high school sports were going to be easy, but it will be worth it...when we put Jesus in the center of all we do then the successes will fall into place, whether it’s on the field or court, stage, classroom, in relationships, or a relationship with...
SJA student participates in turkey bowl

From Public to Private

"When my daughter started as a freshman, she only knew five students in the community, and within a month, kids of all ages knew her name and said “hi” to her in the hallways making her feel at home. This is all thanks to the community system - one of the best...
SJA student claire branson escorted into school during red carpet ceremony

Where Do I Start?

"Many parents also find it helpful to talk to other families currently involved in the programs that might interest your son or daughter." By Karen Maginn, Director of Admission, St. James Academy I’m often asked by Junior High parents, “Where do I start?” when...
SJA Students collaborate on online assignment

Distance Learning – A Student’s Perspective

Having some homework, but not too much, has made school balanced and educational. My teachers have done an excellent job of assigning homework in a reasonable quantity to maintain the student’s lives but not overwhelm them. By Jacob Kreeger, Class of 2022 Although the...
SJA seniors pose during graduation

Return on Investment in Catholic Education

"The quality of life I have today derived from my parents’ investment in my Catholic education years ago." By Hannah Sanchez, SJA Class of 2013 Investing in quality education today is key to receiving tomorrow’s quality of life. Each school or educational system has...
Students pose for photo after red carpet

Transferring Into St. James

Considering Transferring to St. James?I realized God had spoken to me during those shadow visits that led me here, and once more in that Mass telling me, “You did it! You have found your forever home.” By Adeline McIntire, Class of 2021 It was April 26th, and it was...
SJA seniors participate in red carpet ceremony

Our Son Influenced the High School Choice for Our Family

"He said he was intrigued; he couldn’t quite put his finger on “how” that student body appealed to him ... He just knew he was attracted to whatever it was they brought to his school that day and he wanted to explore that further." By Heather Stoltz As we watch our...
SJA students pose during homecoming

Student Counseling Committee

"Participating in the Student Counseling Committee has taught me many lessons about leadership and how to help the students of St. James." by Luke Ludwikoski, SJA Class of 2019 As a part of St. James and the Student Counseling Committee, I believe that the students...
SJA teacher Mr. Thomas converses with parents at open house

How St. James Does STEM

While some of our neighboring public schools continue to add four-year, specialized tracks geared towards particular jobs, we believe St. James Academy is called to provide a different option: a well-rounded education rooted in objective truth and the liberal arts...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This