95-Year Tradition in Jackson Heights
St. Joan of Arc School in Jackson Heights considers its status as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence more than just an honor. It is a reminder of the true potential of students to rise to the challenges of a rigorous education and each student’s ability to obtain academic excellence supported by a teaching staff that’s invested in seeing them succeed.
Everyone expects more of each and every student. “They are going to work here,” says John Fruner, principal.
St. Joan of Arc School uses the Common Core State Standards, takes N.Y.S. tests in fourth, sixth and eighth grades, while also taking the Terra Nova tests in the fall. Kindergarten to second graders even take Terra Nova tests in the spring.
“Hard work is a cornerstone of a Saint Joan of Arc education but our students are not expected to go it alone. Parents and teachers partner together to help their children along the way,” said Antoniette Balzano, a graduate of the school, who has been working in the school office for 31 years. That is exactly what she tells parents when they come to the school for tours.
“Our success is due to our faculty, some who have taught here 30 years, 25, years, and 20 years,” Principal Fruner proudly tells these same inquiring parents.
“Recent retiring teachers taught here 35 and 37 years,” adds Adalberto Maya, Balzano’s assistant.
“Saint Joan of Arc School is a family,” said Assistant Principal Michael Donovan. “Many students’ parents were taught by the same teachers. There are even a few teachers who are now teaching grandchil- dren of their first students when they arrived here at Saint Joan of Arc!”
According to Paul Mazza, middle school science teacher, “Children transform into young women and young men who value education and learn to care for others. They become responsible.”
Mazz is also the director of Confirmation preparation at the school.
At the beginning of the day, after reciting the school’s mission statement, Mazza said that students recite these two phrases:
“I as a student am responsible for my actions and accept that it takes self control, self reliance, no excuses, no laying blame on others, and no expecting a free ride to achieve my academic success;” and
“Scholarship is a lifelong willingness to learn and the recognition that with knowledge comes moral responsibilities.”
Pre-kindergarten teacher Susanne May, who is also the mother of two graduates, tells families who tour her classroom: “If you are up for the challenge, I invite you to become part of a 95-year tradition of education in Jackson Heights! You won’t be disappointed.”