An interview with Lisa Dodge, Principal of St. Ambrose Catholic School
Tell us a little bit about Saint Ambrose. When was it established, what grades does it serve, and what is the learning environment like?
Saint Ambrose is celebrating 53 years serving the Deerfield Beach community. We have the privilege of educating students starting in PreK 3, including a VPK program, all the way to 8th grade. Our learning environment is small, yet diverse. Our teachers and staff form a community of learning unlike any other that I have been a part of in my years in education.
What makes St. Ambrose unique?
St. Ambrose is a community above all else. Families new and returning are welcomed and a part of our family. St. Ambrose develops the whole child through the quaint community, engaging them in activities which range from robotics to student government to dance to team sports to drama to band. Students are rarely, if ever, turned away from an organization thus providing students with a safe environment to discover and develop their talents.
In what ways does St. Ambrose keep up with technological trends, and what kind of equipment and programs are used to enrich curriculum?
Our middle school curriculum combines technology with traditional teaching methods and each student is provided a Chromebook to enhance the curriculum. Our elementary school implements a multitude of strategies to engage the students in their learning and utilize iPads, a computer lab, SMART Boards to utilize programs such as Khan Academy, BrainPop!, Read Theory, MAP testing, Google for Education, and more!
What are some of the more traditional approaches St. Ambrose applies in education?
While technology is an important aspect to the future, we do not forsake our educational roots. Students in the younger grades are taught penmanship and cursive. Students learn through group projects, presentations, and write daily in journals, workbooks, etc. Students learn hands on with manipulatives and through the social interactions with their classmates in a Christ-centered environment.
How does St. Ambrose go beyond the classroom to meet the needs of its students and families?
Educating the entire student is the primary focus of St. Ambrose Catholic School and we partner with the student’s first and primary teachers: their parents. Teachers and administration maintain an open door policy with the families and their students and meet multiple times throughout the year to reflect upon progress within the classroom. As partners in education, students find success at all levels.
What are some of the special programs, clubs, extra-curricular activities offered to the children?
Although we may be more personalized in size, Saint Ambrose School offers a multitude of activities for our students. Middle School students can participate in team sports such as basketball, volleyball, soccer, and flag football. National Junior Honor Society is ideal for students which meet the national requirements, and Math Team or Brain Brawl teams are a great way to challenge the minds. Robotics, drama, dance, yoga, and music lesson are available to the elementary students.
How do you prepare students for the next phase — high school — and beyond?
By integrating technology with fundamental study skills and techniques, our school provides a solid foundation both academically and spiritually, upon which students can build the rest of their lives.
As a school administrator, what life lessons do you hope to instill in students that they will remember years to come?
As an administrator I hope to instill hope and security into the lives of our students. I strive to foster an environment in which mistakes are actually learning opportunities for growth and expansion of one’s self, all within the Christ-centered, Catholic environment. Life is difficult and there will be many learning opportunities in the lifetime to come. Learning to learn is the primary goal in the primary years and we provide a safe environment for growth.
What are some of the school’s awards/accolades/affiliations?
We are accredited with the Florida Catholic Conference
How many students attend St. Ambrose?
Our enrollment is 235
Is enrollment open?
When can the public tour the school?
You can schedule a tour Monday through Friday anytime from 9am – 2pm. Appointments are suggested, but not necessary. We also accept Step Up for Student and AAA Scholarships to help with tuition.