CULTURE AND CAMPUS
Q: I signed up for St. Mark’s, not Episcopal. What makes Episcopal so special and will my child receive the same experience we originally chose for him or her when we enrolled at St. Mark’s?
A: Episcopal’s objective is to provide greater resources to the St. Mark’s campus, including academic rigor, fine arts and athletics and spiritual life opportunities, without altering the loving Christian environment that St. Mark’s parents want. A nurturing family environment is vital for students; it is necessary for growing enrollment, and is important to ensuring ESJ’s mission is fulfilled. The cultures of St. Mark’s and Episcopal are already aligned - a chief reason that we believe in the benefits of a merger.
Q: What will be the leadership structure on the St. Mark’s campus?
A: Both the Beaches campus and St. Mark’s campus have a Lower School Division Head who will work closely with the Heads of Middle and Upper School on the Munnerlyn campus and the Head of School’s Executive Committee.
Q: What will be the new name and how does that affect logos, colors, mascots, etc.?
A: The name will be Episcopal School of Jacksonville, St. Mark’s campus (Beaches Episcopal School will become Episcopal School of Jacksonville, Beaches campus). The mascot will be the Eagle, but Oxford the Lion will not just disappear immediately. There are discussions taking place on how Oxford can introduce Talon the Eagle around campus and then he will “graduate” with sixth grade.
Q: Will St. Mark’s students have new uniforms?
A: Yes, in 2021-2022, St. Mark’s students will have new uniforms. A team of administrators will work to make uniform adjustments on the St. Mark’s and Beaches campuses that are appropriate for elementary students for the 2020-2021 school year. We understand parents may prefer to purchase uniforms that can be worn for a longer period of time, and will communicate any changes as soon as possible.
Q: Will St. Mark’s students be able to get to know Episcopal?
A: Yes, Episcopal will work to ensure students have the opportunity to attend events on the Munnerlyn campus. In addition to summer programs which provide options available to all elementary aged students, ESJ plans to include both the St. Mark’s and Beaches campus students in events on campus as much as possible. In addition, students, coaches, and teachers from the Munnerlyn Campus look forward to coming to the St. Mark’s and Beaches campuses to share in activities and resources across the Four Pillars of Academics, Spiritual Life, Fine Arts and Athletics.
ADMISSIONS AND ENROLLMENT
Q: Will the enrollment process be different beginning with the 2020-2021 school year?
A: For current sixth grade families, yes. During re-enrollment in January, SMEDS sixth grade students will officially be enrolling at Episcopal School of Jacksonville if they decide to remain. Each student will be considered a new student at ESJ.
Parents of students entering PreK II - Grade 6 will go through the typical reenrollment process in January. Parents of these students have signed a continuous enrollment contract, the terms of which will be transferred to ESJ July 1, 2020. These families will not have to sign a new contract for the 2020-2021 school year.
Parents of students entering ELP II and PreK I will sign an annual contract with ESJ.
All families will sign an ESJ contract beginning with the 2021-2022 school year. Additional details and timelines for enrollment will be communicated in December.
Q: Will fifth grade SMEDS students need to apply to ESJ for the 2020-2021 school year?
A: Yes, current fifth grade students will need to apply to ESJ for sixth grade at the Munnerlyn campus next school year.
Q: Will future fifth grade students need to apply to ESJ?
A: No, they will not have to apply. A family attending school on the St. Mark’s campus will sign a continuous enrollment contract with ESJ and is considered enrolled at ESJ through the child’s senior year of Upper School. School leadership and parents will work together to determine whether ESJ will continue to be a successful fit for their child.
Q: How will this merger help St. Mark’s campus?
A: The St. Mark’s value proposition will be enhanced with the seamless preK-12 enrollment, additional resources and programming options in arts and athletics, more professional development for faculty, vertical curriculum alignment with the Munnerlyn Campus, and additional transportation options. Demographic analysis near St. Mark’s indicates growth in the number of St. Mark’s mission-appropriate families, and Episcopal believes that, with time, the merger will drive increases in enrollment.
Q: For the 2020-2021 school year, will the sixth grade tuition at the SMEDS campus be the same as sixth grade tuition at the Munnerlyn campus?
A: No. The tuition at each campus will reflect the historic tuition at each school, respectively.
Q: After the merger, will tuition at the St. Mark’s campus be closer or more similar to the tuition at the Munnerlyn campus?
A: No. Though tuition at the St. Mark’s campus will rise over time in increments typical of an independent elementary school as it meets staffing and programming needs, it will not match the tuition at the Munnerlyn campus. Tuition at the St. Mark’s campus will remain competitive with tuition at its peer independent elementary schools in the Jacksonville area.
Sixth Grade Programming at St. Mark’s Campus
Q: Will the same sixth grade program be implemented at the St. Mark’s, Beaches, and Munnerlyn campuses for 2020-2021?
A: No. Each campus will implement campus-specific sixth grade programming. That said, faculty and administration across the three campuses have already started discussions related to ways in which the classes can partner on various projects, service opportunities, materials to study, and possible field trip options that may include all three campuses.
Q: Are there ways the sixth graders at the St. Mark’s campus will collaborate and share certain activities with the sixth graders at the Munnerlyn campus during the 2020-2021 school year?
A: Yes. St. Mark’s and ESJ staff members are engaged in discussion about ways the sixth grades can share experiences together. This may include off-campus activities, service opportunities, and special school events.
Q: When will the St. Mark’s campus sixth grade move to ESJ?
A: The current fourth grade at St. Mark’s will be the first class to attend sixth grade on the Munnerlyn campus. For additional information about this decision, please refer to the previous communication related to sixth grade.
Q: How will the sixth grade year at St. Mark’s remain a special year for the students next year?
A: Families can expect sixth graders at the St. Mark’s campus to participate in the special traditions in which they have participated in past years, including safety patrol, graduation, class trips, and leadership opportunities. Teachers and administration are currently in conversation regarding ways to ensure the 2020-2021 sixth grade year at the St. Mark’s campus remains special,and we will hold a discussion with parents regarding these plans in the future.
2020-2021 Fifth Grade
Q: Are there plans to make next year special for the fifth graders since it will be their last year at the St. Mark’s campus?
A: Yes. Faculty and staff members at St. Mark’s campus and ESJ will discuss ways to make next year a special year for the fifth grade class. We are determining ways to make the year special for both fifth and sixth graders by providing unique opportunities for each class as well as for all of the fifth and sixth grade students together.
Academic and Curriculum Enhancements
Q: Is there any plan to enhance the academic curriculum at the SMEDS campus?
A: Planning is underway regarding ways to enhance the academic program at the St. Mark’s campus in the 2020-2021 school year and beyond. The plan is to create a more cohesive academic program that will vertically align across all grade levels, from ELP through grade 12 on the Munnerlyn campus.This includes looking closely at the daily schedule, creating opportunities for more student innovation, and identifying opportunities for students to integrate and collaborate across grade levels through club activities.
We plan to provide academic support in the classrooms with the addition of instructors who will work with teachers to assist students who need support and students who need further enrichment/challenge in class; these instructors will help to better differentiate instruction.
Q: How will the SMEDS teachers and ESJ teachers collaborate?
A: St. Mark’s campus teachers will be included in professional development and collaboration opportunities with ESJ. St. Mark’s teachers recently visited ESJ’s Munnerlyn campus and are eager to partner with their counterparts at ESJ to enhance academic programming for our students.
Q: How will the merger affect teachers?
A: Teachers will benefit from increased opportunities for professional development, more resources, tuition remission, and strong leadership with a clear strategy for the future.
Athletics & Sports
Q: Will ESJ provide athletics and sports support at the St. Mark’s campus?
A: Yes. Members of the ESJ Athletic Department are planning several ways to collaborate with the St. Mark’s campus to enhance the current athletics and sports programs and share resources. This will be coordinated with support provided to the Beaches campus. ESJ already provides athletic resources to the St. Mark’s campus, such as lacrosse and soccer clinics.
Q: Will ESJ provide support in the area of fine arts?
A: Yes. Members of the ESJ fine arts department are planning several ways to collaborate and share resources with the St. Mark’s and Beaches campuses next year, both during the school day and through after school enrichments. Plans to collaborate in the area of visual are underway for this school year, including the A Vision for Art event.
Q: What additional Spiritual Life opportunities with the merger with ESJ provide?
A: ESJ chaplains and the ESJ Student Vestry will partner with the St. Mark’s campus and Church leadership in leading a meaningful chapel and spiritual life experience for our children. In addition, and community service staff will work to coordinate service events in conjunction with what organizations ESJ is already working with, especially on days like Global Community Day and Community Service Day.
Q: What role does St. Mark’s Church play given the merger?
A: St. Mark’s Church will continue to be part of spiritual life on the St. Mark’s campus, including to continue to host Chapel services. The Rev. Tom Murray will serve as the head of a committee that will help develop Chapel content. ESJ has more than 80 students on Student Vestry who will also contribute.