St. John the Baptist Catholic School (SJS) is rich in tradition of academic excellence and community service. SJS was founded by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus and their vision, to provide the highest quality education by forming the whole child, has continued through many decades and is still applied today.
St. John the Baptist Catholic School is a parochial elementary school serving grades transitional kindergarten (TK) to eight. Located in Healdsburg, California, in the Diocese of Santa Rosa, the school was established in 1950 by the Sisters of the Infant Jesus (CHIJ), who came from Drisbane, Ireland, to staff the school. The school opened its doors on September 18 of that year with 89 students in grades one through six, and the first class of eleven students graduated in June 1953. The CHIJ sisters were guided by the motto “Simple in Virtue, Steadfast in Duty,” and this charism continues to be a central focus of the school. It influenced the school’s current mission statement and philosophy, and pervades the life of the school community.
The original founding order taught at the school until 2000. Two of the retired sisters continue to reside in Healdsburg and play a very active role within the school and parish communities, thereby furthering the ongoing CHIJ charism. Of note, they both participate weekly in the first grade reading program by leading small groups of students.
Beginning in the mid-to-late 1950s, the school expanded. While grades one through three remained in the first school building, four new classrooms were added in 1959 to accommodate the upper grades. In 1976, a classroom for kindergarten was constructed, and a class for pre-kindergarten was added in 1981. In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake severely damaged the original building, and the old gymnasium was declared unsafe. In 1991, a new wing was added to house grades five through seven, and the new gymnasium was completed in 2003 through funds provided by a parish benefactor. A library and art room were added in 2007 through a remodeling project of an adjacent building that housed the old Federation Church. With a donation from a school family, two modular structures for an eighth grade classroom and a music room were added and completed the expansion of the original school.
Since 1974, the leadership of the school has been entrusted to a lay principal who is hired by the pastor of the parish and works in collaboration with him. The current pastor was assigned to the parish in 2013, and he has provided active and dynamic leadership for the principal, faculty and staff of the school. The current principal was hired in July 2015, and he serves a faculty of ten primary teachers, an assistant principal, a resource specialist, and 27 instructional and administrative staff members (including a full-time business manager and administrative assistant).
In preparation for the 2014-2015 school year, the school ended its pre-kindergarten program and began a transitional kindergarten as part of a two-year kindergarten academic program. Students in grades one to eight attend physical education classes twice each week in the gym or on the school yard. Students participate in other co-curricular classes, such as Spanish, art and computer technology. The school librarian coordinates with teachers for class visits to the library about twice monthly, and she works with individual or groups of students in the library during lunch or after school. The school provides extended care for students remaining on campus after school.
The school began the 2017-2018 school year with an enrollment of 225 students. School families live in the local Healdsburg area, while many come from the surrounding towns of Santa Rosa, Windsor, Geyserville and Cloverdale. The school's positive reputation, the family environment and wonderful traditions, as well as its academic and spiritual excellence, are reasons most often cited when parents choose to enroll their students at SJS. Approximately 60 percent of the school families are parishioners of the parish church.