St. James Is … Announcing Our New Mission and Vision!
As we celebrated the Grand Opening of our new building last month, we also used that special occasion to unveil the new St. James mission and vision statements, which have been a year in the making. As we do at St. James, drum roll please …
A world without inequities.
Please visit our NEW WEB PAGE and view the videos in which many voices from our community share what these statements mean to them.
Among those voices is 7th grader Kamajiah, who is included in the video about faith. “A faith-based community means I can really believe in God," she says, "that I can have a place where I can pray to Him. I have other people behind me [that] believe with me, that I’m not the only one standing before God, that I’m not the only one who’s praying with God.”

In the video on education, Dominic Vincent (Class of 2022) shares, “Ever since I came in the 6th grade, I’ve [taken] on a lot more challenges. Because of St. James, I can play the trumpet and code, and persevere through challenges and hard times in the real world and academically.”

Dr. Darryl Ford, Head of School, William Penn Charter School, says in the video about relationships: “Relationships at St. James are so important because it teaches our students that they belong and that they should be able to speak to anyone...”

One of our youngest voices, 4th grader Malaysia, is heard in the video about our vision: “A world of fairness means that people of color and white people get along, showing respect and not showing disrespect to each other.”
5th Graders Aryanna, James and Mekenzie having fun with the Mission statement
6th Grader Tyrone shares our new vision statement
While our foundational mission served us well, as we grew and expanded, it no longer reflected the breadth of the work we were already doing (such as Graduate Support and Welcome Table programs), and we never had a vision statement.

What’s the difference between a mission and vision statement, you ask? The mission is the “who” and the “what.” It describes what you do, with and for whom you serve, and your purpose. The vision is the “why.” It inspires and aspires. In tandem with the mission, the vision answers what’s achieved as a result.  

The mission and vision process was facilitated by Val Gay and Caralyn Spector of Spector|Gay Consulting, who both have many years of executive non-profit experience in strategic planning and organizational development through a lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and justice. They, along with a core staff-led committee, ensured that over several months, every St. James stakeholder group had an opportunity to be heard.

All students responded to writing prompts, while graduates shared in small group sessions. Val and Caralyn made presentations to staff, Board, committees, and at a parent/guardian meeting. Our entire community of volunteers, donors, supporters, partners, parents, and neighbors was invited to answer a short survey, and some participated in a followup interview. From all the responses, the core committee distilled phrases and words.
The staff is very excited to live into these statements, along with a number of values that represent how we want to be in the world. Thanks to our incredible community for being a part of this process, and sharing who we are and who we are yet to be!
Mercedez Ingram (Class of 2021) with her boss at Vault + Vine
Becoming a Boss
The First Bosses program, an initiative of our Graduate Support department, is in its second year and continuing to grow! First Bosses matches St. James graduates with internships at businesses in East Falls and Allegheny West. Graduates, typically 9th and 10th graders, work for one week over their winter or spring break to gain exposure to business and work life.

This spring, six graduates worked at local businesses including Vault + Vine, Thunder Mug Cafe, Rutabaga Toy Library, Beauty Fit Strong, Vegan Vibes, and 4th Street Cookies. The concept is patterned after a similar initiative at our sister school, Epiphany School, in Boston.

Graduate Support Associate Aldontae (Dontae) Guess directs the program. He reaches out to local businesses and invites them to “hire” a graduate for a week. The business owners agree to act as mentors and teachers. The students earn a stipend while acquiring invaluable work experience.

After hosting a second St. James alum, the manager at Thunder Mug Cafe asked Dontae, “Where do you get these amazing kids from?” Several new businesses have come into the program after hearing success stories from neighboring shops.

The community spread has been remarkable. While working at Thunder Mug, Hanirah Dolan (Class of 2020) got to know the owner of Beauty Fit Strong, a local gym, who regularly came in for coffee. That led to Beauty Fit Strong joining the program. So far, three graduates have been hired for part-time and full-time positions by the establishments where they interned.
Korren Brennan (Class of 2022) working at Thunder Mug
Dontae observes, “The First Bosses Program teaches students the importance of being on time, working with a team, and the principles of customer service. It’s an opportunity for graduates to learn new skills and hone skills they may already have that will benefit them in future career endeavors.”

Jihann Gaines-Henderson (Class of 2022), who recently completed a week at Vault + Vine, described his experience: “My job was to help in any area that was needed. I learned to take my time and not rush through tasks. My favorite part was being a cashier and getting to know customers.”

Sabreyah Thompson (Class of 2020) was excited to share after her first day at Thunder Mug: “I was stressed at first, then had more and more fun the more I learned. I want to improve my people skills and counting money correctly — it is helping with my math skills.”

Interest in the program among our graduates continues to grow. Going forward, Dontae has a list of new businesses he plans to invite to participate.
Grand Opening Celebration of our new Upper School building!
More than 200 people attended our Grand Opening Celebration on March 21st. Thank you to all who turned out! Current students, grads, and families joined with volunteers and neighbors. In addition to the official ribbon cutting, we revealed a new directional sign, "RAH Way," dedicated to Rosalie Cooper, President of the RAH Civic Association and our neighbors for their support of our new building. Everyone got to tour the campus and complete a St. James themed scavenger hunt by collecting stickers corresponding to each area of the school they visited. Our celebration continues on our Instagram and Facebook pages, where we will be posting more details about exciting aspects of the new space that we are excited to share!
Black History Wax Museum
Maya Angelou, famous memoirist, popular poet, and civil rights activist
Magic Johnson, iconic basketball legend
Charles Drew, trailblazing surgeon and medical researcher 
Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time
St. James celebrates Black History 365 — not just during Black History Month. Step back into history with these highlights from the 2023 St. James Wax Museum! Last month, students of all classes gave speeches as notable African American individuals, after doing lots of research and memorization. We got to meet historical figures who have made all sorts of remarkable contributions, including activists, inventors, athletes, and artists!
Clockwise from top left: Gabby (5th grade) as Maya Angelou, Jayden P (5th grade) as Magic Johnson, Niecey (5th grade) as Serena Williams, and
Semaj (8th grade) as Charles Drew.
Room Dedications
Our faculty and staff are in the process of dedicating their offices, classrooms, and workspaces to black people who inspire them. The staff will present their space dedication choices during lunches and assemblies. We will post them to our Instagram and Facebook pages, so be sure to follow us!
Springtime Photo Gallery
Spring has sprung at St. James! As always that means students and community members alike have been enjoying beautiful blooms all around campus, a new season of garden preparation, and a Holy Week full of intentional prayer and fellowship. Click below to see more pictures of everyone welcoming the brightness and joy of spring! 
Ways to Help: Become a Black Futures Sponsor or Purchase Pay What You Wish Tickets
Tuesday, May 23rd, 2023
Mann Center for the Performing Arts
St. James is a faith-based educational community deeply rooted in transformative loving relationships.
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