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Ahern: St. John Fisher fundraiser targets new boiler

Katie Fadden St. John Fisher students. | Supplied photo

Katie Fadden and St. John Fisher students. | Supplied photo

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Updated: May 8, 2013 6:09AM



Here is a good news/bad news scenario: Old boilers and school budgets don’t mix, but new teachers with enthusiasm can sometimes soften the blow of costly boilers. 

At $250,000, costly is the key word for a new boiler that is needed at St. John Fisher School, 10200 Washtenaw Ave., in Chicago’s Beverly community. However, when life hands out lemons — or in this case, an old boiler — it is time to figure out a way to pay for the lemonade.

To help with the cost of the boiler, St. John Fisher is hosting a fundraiser called “Funding for the Future: A Celebration of St. John Fisher.” The event will be held from 7 p.m. to midnight April 13 at 115 Bourbon Street, 3359 W. 115th St., Merrionette Park.

“Like Catholic schools around the country, we experienced a dramatic decrease in the already limited amount of federal and state funding that was once available,” Sister Jean McGrath, the school’s principal, said. “Additionally, the tough economy with joblessness and overtime cutbacks has impacted our school budget.

“We are blessed in many ways, though. We have strong and very caring parent support and a very generous faculty. All combine their best efforts to support the school in so many ways. 

“I know that St. John Fisher grads are well prepared for high school and college,” McGrath said. “However, like families who have to maintain and upgrade their homes, in maintaining the school we are aware that our 60-year-old boiler had to be replaced, and one quarter of a million dollars is a huge expenditure, not part of our operating budget.”

The “Funding for the Future” event will be a combination of smaller fundraisers that are usually held at St. John Fisher. Combining the fundraisers was an effort to be sensitive to what McGrath called the “stretched checkbooks” of parents and parishioners who support the school and parish through tuition dollars and gifts in general.

While the boiler talks and funding concerns were going on, St. John Fisher also received some clearly good news — its full-day preschool teacher, Katie Fadden, was chosen to be a Scholastic Teacher Advisor for the 2013-14 school year.  

Fadden was selected from among thousands of applicants throughout the United States. Only 23 educators were chosen for the positions at Scholastic, a publishing, education and media company.

As a teacher advisor, Fadden will soon fly to Scholastic headquarters in New York City to take part in meetings and panel discussions. After that initial contact, she will act as the “eyes and ears” of Scholastic, sharing current educational trends in the hope that the company will be able to help other teachers, students and parents.

“As a second-year teacher, I feel so grateful to have been chosen out of thousands of outstanding teachers for this exciting position,” Fadden said. “I look forward to this upcoming year with Scholastic and am anxious to get started. I hope to bring a lot of creativity and fresh ideas to continue to make this program such a success.” 

Fadden is a fourth-generation early childhood educator. Her mom, grandmother and great-grandmother were all teachers, and she said she feels she brings new ideas to the classroom, as well as tried-and-true ideas from her mother’s experience as a teacher.  

“I am lucky to share a passion for teaching preschool with my mom who currently teaches preschool at St. Catherine of Alexandria School in Oak Lawn,” she said. “We are constantly collaborating and sharing old and new ideas with one another to best teach our young students.

“Between the two of us our basement looks like it could be its own teacher store with all of our ideas, supplies and resources,” Fadden said. “She is an outstanding teacher, so I’m very lucky to have her experience and guidance. We have a lot of fun together teaching our little ones.” 

McGrath is happy that Fadden was chosen for this honor and is equally enthusiastic about the school’s upcoming fundraiser.

“We are really excited about the opportunity to bring together Fisher Folks both past and present for this event which promises to be great fun,” she said. “A celebration of St. John Fisher defines the purpose of the party. The generosity of the school and parish has always been remarkable. This is a big challenge, but I know we will not be disappointed.”

Tickets for the fundraiser are $40 per person and are available at the St. John Fisher website (www.St. JohnFisherschool.net), in person at the school or at 115 Bourbon Street.



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