History & Traditions
Commendation from the Reaccreditation Visiting Committee of ISAS/SAES, 2013
The rebirth and resurrection of St. Paul's Episcopal School since 2005 is remarkable and inspiring. The Committee commends all St. Paul's constituencies for the perseverance, particularly administrators, teachers, and families who returned to rebuild the School after Katrina. The administration and Board of Trustees have provided effective leadership and stewardship during this recovery process. The spirit of generosity and volunteerism in the St. Paul's community was incalculably important in this regard.
St. Paul's Episcopal School - Over 50 Years of Growth
Continuing a long history of commitment to education by the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Vestry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church voted in 1960 to open a day school as part of its service to the community. The original plan was to start the school with a nursery and kindergarten and add one grade a year through the sixth grade.
The school opened in September 1961 with 52 students. In 1962 a second story was added to the front wing of the educational building. In 1966, it became necessary to expand the second story over the back wing as well, allowing the school to effectively educate approximately 200 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. The school’s first eighth grade graduated in May 1972. St. Paul's continued to grow steadily.
As the eighties began, the Board of Trustees recognized the need to develop St. Paul's capabilities beyond the time honored “basics.” During this time St. Paul's added a science laboratory, a kindergarten room, computer labs, and music room.
In 1983, St. Paul's completed its application for accreditation with I.S.A.S. (Independent Schools Association of the Southwest) and at its second 10 year self-study, St. Paul's applied for accreditation with S.A.E.S. (Southwestern Association of Episcopal Schools) in 1993.
Beginning in 1985 and continuing through the nineties, the school began a capital campaign consisting of three phases: renovation, classroom additions, and property acquisition. During this time multiple projects took place including:
Expansion of the main building
- Renovation of kitchen and O’Ferrall Hall
- Houses purchased on Vicksburg Street and the property adjacent to it
Acquisition of the adjacent property continued into the 21st century. The “Behrens Building,” commemorating St. Paul's first head of school, was located on Canal Boulevard and French Street.
Construction of the Suzy Dunn Early Education Center was completed for the 2002-2003 school year. The building originally housed Pre-K and Kindergarten students and is now home to the Little Saints Learning Center. During the summer of 2002, an area called the “grass yard’ was converted into parking space in anticipation of the construction of Hemenway Hall named after long-term head of school, Charles Hemenway. This facility was in full use for the 2003-2004 school year and houses the gymnasium, science laboratory, art rooms, music room, lower school classrooms, after care, and more.
In the Face of Adversity, St. Paul’s Perseveres
On August 29, 2005, St. Paul’s was devastated with flood waters when a defective levee collapsed on the edge of the neighborhood shortly after the passing of Hurricane Katrina. For three weeks the church and school sat in eight feet of polluted water and debris. The result was the total destruction of virtually all contents and records of the church and school on the ground floor, as well as two single story buildings.
In August 2006, St. Paul’s school opened its school year, back on its own campus.
At this time, St. Paul’s saw the need within the neighborhood and continued to expand. The 2007-2008 school year was the beginning of the Little Saints Learning Center opening with a 3 year-old class. The Little Saints 2 year-old class began during the 2009-2010 school year. In January 2011, the Baby and Toddler Saints were added.
In March 2013, the new lower school building was opened, with approximately 7,500 square feet of learning space for the children. It houses a number of early childhood and lower school classes. It also contains a large common area with a media wall, and technology area, space for creative play, and a multi-purpose room. It contains Aquos boards in every classroom.
With the vision of renovation and renewal, two major curricular programs grew in strength. In 2014, St. Paul’s received a grant from the Louisiana Wildlife Federation for its sustainability program which was used in part for the “PAWS” to Work Program. The Innovation Station, an outdoor classroom completed in 2015, provided space for the children to produce products using science and gardening knowledge including learning woodworking skills. Hydroponics and a greenhouse were added to the sustainability program. And the outdoor campus was enhanced with new play equipment designed to build upper and lower body fitness.
In March 2020, St. Paul’s faced yet another major obstacle with the school’s closure due to the global pandemic, COVID-19. The spring of 2020 posed unprecedented challenges for St. Paul’s, with the campus closing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and instruction very quickly shifting to a virtual model and St.Paul’s@Home was born. The needs of the school changed dramatically, and the full community—alumni, parents, grandparents, faculty, staff, family, and friends— rose to the challenge in every way.
St. Paul’s adapted quickly to cover the unplanned operating expenses that arose as a direct result of the pandemic with things like the infrastructure upgrades, expanded software licenses we needed to support a remote learning model, additional cleaning supplies and protective equipment, and additional aid to St. Paul’s students and families who felt the financial impact of COVID-19.
Our faculty worked diligently and creatively during our distance learning, and the parent support for our school, and for each other, made our success possible.
In the fall of the 2020/2021 school year, St. Paul’s opened its doors to all students for on-campus learning. With a robust COVID-19 safety and cleaning regimen guided by the CDC, LDH and LDOE, along with employing a school nurse, the on-campus school year has proven to be highly successful!