students smile at the camera in the top-rated catholic elementary and middle school in mahtomedi

PengWINNER Year-In-Review 2022-2035

St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School                                                                          June 9, 2023

 The Year in Review

The 2022-2023 school year was another incredible year of progress for our students and school community.  As I marked my 6th year as principal, I continue to be extremely proud that we are able to ensure our students are safe, nurtured, loved, and inspired to learn.  PENGUINS RULE. 

We continue to build on our rich history of excellence while also striving to grow and improve. Highlights from this past year include:

  • Remarkable growth and increase in enrollment
    • A retention of 92% of our current students
    • An increase in student enrollment from 197 to 220 students (as of June 2023: 28 Kindergarteners and 220 students enrolled for next school year)
    • An amazing growth rate from 2017 to 2023 of 520%
    • An off the chart increase in school spirit- WE LOVE OUR HAPPY PLACE!
    • An increase in our NWEA Map Scores (Fall 2022 and Spring 2023- INCREDIBLE GROWTH!)
    • A continued focus by all teachers on infusing religion, technology, STEM, writing instruction and unique opportunities into all subject areas.
    • Continued growth of faculty in utilizing student data to inform instructional decisions.
    • The continued support of a school-wide community service project, The Blessing Box, and many others throughout the year such as the Mahtomedi Food Shelf, Catholic Charities, and heroes throughout our community.
    • Generous financial support and scholarship opportunities for our students; and
    • The continuation of the countless events, activities, and traditions that make St. Jude of the Lake Catholic School such a great and happy place for a child and family to be! It was truly heart-warming to see and feel the students’ excitement and energy levels grow stronger throughout the year.  Some highlights include:
    • Minnesota Water Shed Trout In the Classroom: 26 trout released this year, in addition to snow shoeing and ice fishing
    • Aquaponics Lab: growing lettuce as well as fileting Tilapia and enjoying shore lunch.
    • NEW– Solar Suitcase participation for Middle School
    • Greenhouse that allows for more horticulture
    • Weekly STEM classes for all students, STAR based learning and Valley Fair STEM Day
    • CSCOE Big Bang STEM Fair
    • Math Masters
    • SERVE-A-THON (2022: 30 Days of Random Acts of Kindness)
    • School Pop Ups and Special Activities
    • Partnered Events
    • Alumni and Institutional Advancement initiatives, including Cornfest Corn Hole Tournament
    • New LINKS Program (Life Involves New Kinds of Skills) and Career Day for the Middle School
    • All-School masses and other special celebrations, like our Christmas concert and Spring performance for our Grandparents.
    • Middle School trip to Wolf Ridge Lodge in Finland, Minnesota and Eagle Bluff in Lanesboro, Minnesota

Our building improvements this year included the Math Lab in the Middle School.  Our Phase 3 project for the Middle School will include a new learning space and staff bathroom.  We will continue to grow in the Science and Engineering Lab and more robust programing in our library and Technology/Media Center.  The Parents Pray & Play (ECFL) and Extracurricular Programs, such as art club and sport camps, are growing along with our student body.


As we look forward to the coming school year, we have worked hard to analyze our progress, assess our needs and any possible gaps in our programming, and innovate to offer the best experience we can for our students. To that end, here are some highlights and items to note for the 2023-2024 school year:

  • Communication: As a school, we are always looking for better and more efficient ways to connect with our families. Jude of the Lake continues to use the unified digital app, ParentSquare, to better serve and insure the best communication with our teachers, parents, and greater community as possible. The communication platform has been outstanding at keeping our entire campus, especially our PreK through 8th grade families, informed of everything going on at our school.
  • Specialists:All students will continue to enjoy Specialist Opportunities each week. That means each student will have time each week allocated to Art, Music, PE, STEM, Library and Spanish.  In addition to the weekly STEM time, the students will also have a weekly rotation in the Technology/Media Center. We get very excited about finding a way to fit in everything that is important in elementary and Middle School education.  We are particularly excited about our Outdoor Classroom and even more innovative technology/media opportunities.  Jude of the Lake is also positioned with student support staff to assist those learners that need a little extra propping-up. 
  • Science and Engineering Lab:We will continue to grow opportunities in our Science and Engineering Lab as part of our effort to focus on Science and Engineering teaching and learning and ensure all teachers have access to the space and resources, they need to make learning engaging, fun, hands-on, and inquiry based.  For the 2023-2024 school year, we will have three staff members taking the initiative to build out the program further.  We will continue to partner with the Minnesota Watershed and grow our aquaponics component as well.  We have complete curriculums of FOSS- NEXT GENERATION and Engineering in Elementary on site and our teachers have extensively been trained.  And we’re super exited to be expanding our offerings further by bringing Virtual Reality into our learning space through the CLASSVR Program.  We look forward to igniting our students’ love of Science, Engineering and Math even more!
  • Robust religious education program:We will continue to focus on our faith through a Catholic Virtues and Saints Programs that allows our students to have an increased awareness and knowledge of our beautiful Catholic faith and how to be great disciples.  We are continuing our religion curriculums this year, Word of Life and Rua Woods Theology of the Body, for all grade levels.  In addition, we will continue MagnifiKID, grades 2-5, and OSV Kids, PreK-1, curriculums.
  • Reading Curriculum improvements! SuperKidsis one of the best comprehensive English language arts curriculums for grades K-2 using relatable characters and their ongoing adventures to provide an engaging framework for literacy success for a lifetime.  In grades 3-5, we are finishing implementing the Read Side by Side Reading Program to increase motivation and expose the students to a wide range of genres- OUTSTANDING!
  • Technology throughout our campus:  We are a 1:1 iPad site and each classroom is fitted with both an Apple TV and Smartboard to integrate technology into the classroom. We are installing two of the latest model Smartboards.  Middle School students work from 1:1 laptop.  These resources and tools are effective ways to connect with students of all learning styles.   We have found the studies to be true for our community when striking a balance between hands-on learningstudents respond well to technology because they believe that it makes learning more interesting and fun. They especially like tablets. Subjects that students deem challenging or boring can become more interesting with virtual lessons, through a video, or interactive activities. The teachers do a fantastic job creating and maintaining a balance of technology and hands-on experiences.  In addition to our internet safety instruction, we have installed Go Guardian and Class Link applications to protect our student’s safety while accessing the internet.
  • Lunch Program: We continue to provide all our students with delicious well-balanced hot/cold lunch options for purchase 5-days a week. We have also added Munchables and Yogurt Packs to add more options, in addition to the main entrée, cold sandwich, and/or hot soup. 
  • School Counseling Services: Through a grant from CSCOE, we have partnered with Phoenix School Counseling to support our students’ social and emotional needs and development for our staff.  Phoenix also has available parent educational videos and a variety of resources to support our families. 
  • Campus Security- In addition to the installation of Riot Glass around the entrances, multi-faceted and functioning security cameras will be installed for extra security measures.

As you can see, there is a lot in store for the 2023-2024 school year. St. Jude of the Lake teachers and staff are/will continue to be educated, prepared, and supported to address possible learning challenges that arise during the students’ academic journey.

Our HAPPY PLACE experience could not occur without the endless energy, skills and devotion of the St. Jude of the Lake teachers and staff.  Thank you, and well done to an incredible group of professionals.   St. Jude of the Lake School Community, we could not have managed without your partnership!  Your prayers, support, and commitment to our kids and school are awe inspiring!

Final words for our students:  Thank you for all your hard work throughout the school year.  I am so honored to be your principal; you make me proud to be a PengWINNER.  You keep me laughing and energized every day.  I am grateful for your joy, wise insights, and amazing talents.  Best wishes and cheers to a wonderful summer.  Please be sure to mark your calendars for our community events and park dates- Enjoy the sunshine, warm weather, and relaxed schedule! For those going in a different direction, we will miss you dearly—please come back and visit- Once a PengWINNER-Always a PengWINNER!


Enjoy a safe and happy summer break!

Cheering In Christ-

Carrie Hackman, Principal