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Early Years and Foundation

St. Michael’s School, in Poway, California, has a rich history that dates back to its founding in 1964. The school was established by Monsignor Michael Coughlan with the aim of providing quality Catholic education rooted in Faith, Knowledge, and Character. Initially staffed by Sisters of St. Clare, and later by the Sisters of Mercy, the school worked to establish itself as a center of academic excellence.

Growth and Development

Over the past 60 years, St. Michael’s School has experienced significant growth and development. Because of a growing student waiting list, the decision was made to expand the school by adding a second class to each grade. In 1997, a second Kindergarten was added, and a new class was added each subsequent year through 2005, when all grades, K – 8, had double classes. Grades 4-8 moved into a newly built facility, referred to as South Campus, in the spring of 2003. This campus houses 16 classrooms, a Science Lab, an Art room, a Library/Resource room, and is adjoined by a full-size sports field. In the fall of 2008, St. Michael’s School launched a three- and four-year-old Preschool/PreKindergarten program.  In recent years, there has been an increased demand in middle school, and today, the school has three classes each in Grades 5-8. With over 600 students, St. Michael’s School is the largest Catholic elementary school in the Diocese of San Diego. The school’s commitment to academic achievement, to include a plethora of co-curricular and extra-curricular offerings, coupled with a focus on character development and community involvement, contributes to its positive reputation in Poway and beyond.

Notable Achievements

St. Michael’s School has a history of producing accomplished students and achieving notable milestones. Our graduates routinely earn academic scholarships at one of the three Catholic High Schools: Our Lady of Peace, Cathedral Catholic, and Saint Augustine. In addition, SMS students enroll in numerous AP and honors courses in high school, and their GPAs are exceptional. Further, SMS students are well-rounded, and have been recognized for their talent in Vocal and Instrumental Music, Art, Musical Theater, and Athletics. Students also have received numerous awards at the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair, and two Future City teams won first place Regional honors, for which they were able to compete at the National competition in Washington, D.C.  These accomplishments reflect the dedication of both students and faculty to the school’s core values.

Challenges and Resilience

Like any institution, St. Michael’s School faced its share of challenges.  Most recently, during the COVID pandemic, the school was able to adjust its instructional model and keep learning alive. Some students chose to participate in distance-learning, while others chose to learn in-person.  Plexiglass was installed on each desk, and students and teachers maintained a six-foot distance from one another. Students remained in cohorts to minimize spreading the infection. This was a difficult time for students, parents, and staff, but the school remained dedicated to its mission, and persevered for the benefit of all.

One of the hallmarks of St. Michael’s School is its strong connection to the local community through service. Mercy Corps, the school’s student service organization, was established in 2006. Together with Student Council, our student government leaders, they select and lead the school in a variety of service projects, such as raising money for Catholic Charities, Missionary Childhood Association, Catholic Relief Services, Father Joe’s Villages, and Life Choices Pregnancy Center, to name a few.  Additionally, students participate in local beach clean up days, and have joined with other organizations in the Million Meals food packaging cause.

Community Engagement

Modern Era

Technology is an important aspect of a St. Michael’s School education, and students in all grades not only learn to be technologically literate but also to be safe. Students learn how to utilize Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), and they are adept in Learning Management Systems (Google Classroom for Grades 3-8 and SeeSaw for Grades K-2). A variety of applications also enhance student learning and make it more accessible (e.g., Kahoots, Padlet, Plickers, Reflex). In addition, the school recently completed a substantial technology expansion by purchasing 75”  interactive SMART TVs for all classrooms and upgrading its infrastructure.

Looking Forward

As St. Michael’s School looks to the future, it remains committed to its founding principles while adapting to the changing landscape of education. The school’s current goals include replacing the South Campus grass field with turf, providing expanded safety and security measures, and upgrading the North Campus playground. 

In conclusion, St. Michael’s School in Poway, California, has played a significant role in shaping the lives of its students and contributing to the local community. Its rich history is a testament to the dedication of its founders, faculty and staff, students, and the broader community that supports its mission of providing an education where tradition and innovation unite.

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