Description of the School
Saint Walter Catholic Elementary School (SWS) is a school in the Archdiocese of Chicago, the largest private school system in the United Sates. The SWS motto of “Live Faith, Learn Tradition, Achieve Excellence” summarizes the spirit and mission of SWS, honoring our school’s sixty-five year history while preparing our students with a solid academic foundation to build upon in the future.
SWS is a Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8 school serving one-hundred forty students in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago. SWS was founded in 1952 as part of Saint Walter Parish whose parish boundaries cover one square mile, half in Chicago and half in Blue Island.
SWS is proud of its diverse enrollment which it draws from the neighborhood and the larger community. Demographically, the students come from twenty different zip codes and racially are identified as approximately 53% African-American; 18% Caucasian; 17% Multi-racial; 10% Hispanic; and 2% other. Saint Walter School accepts children of all religious backgrounds and currently is currently 41% Catholic and 56% non-Catholic. The current socio-economic status of our school population has 43% receiving free/reduced lunch; 46% receive financial aid in the form of Caritas, Big Shoulders, or SWS Scholarship; 12% qualify for Title I services; and 6% have Individualized Catholic Education Plans.
SWS offers academic instruction of the highest quality implementing current best practices under the direction of a Principal. The faculty at Saint Walter consists of nine full-time lay teachers; two full-time religious teachers; one full-time teacher aide; one part-time Reading Specialist; and one religious Title I instructor. Members of the faculty and administration hold Professional Educator Licenses from the Illinois State Board of Education. At SWS, 60% of the teachers have more than 15 years of teaching experience and 85% hold concentrations/endorsements in content specific areas. Special area staff including the physical education teacher and the Spanish teacher are part-time and are outsourced from the Fran Center. Additional support staff includes a full-time administrative assistant, a part-time business manager, and school custodians.
SWS’s teachers participate in bi-monthly Professional Learning Committees based on grade-levels which provide opportunities for collaboration and resource support. Members of the faculty also participate in on-going professional development that aligns with the school’s Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) and attend subject/classroom management specific workshops throughout the school year.
Our Catholic identity and evangelization is ever present within our classrooms with all students participating in Morning Prayer, daily religion classes and weekly mass. Additionally, the entire student body participates in reciting a decade of the rosary on Mondays and Fridays during the month of October, Advent wreath candle lighting during Advent, Stations of the Cross each Friday during Lent and a living rosary along with our May Crowning. Catholic students in Grades 2 through 8 attend Reconciliation services twice a year. All faculty members are progressing through the new Catechetical Certification process with 70% of the teachers at Level II or above.
The smaller class sizes lend itself to more personalized instruction, and teachers and students alike know everyone’s name. SWS considers its best asset to be the family atmosphere that is evident the moment you walk through the door.