Testimonies

My name is Lynn Cochran and I am a Teacher Emerita, having served the St. John the Baptist School community in various teaching capacities beginning in May 1995. My first glimpse into the culture of this fine little school began on the day I was interviewed for my first position. Following my interview, I was invited to take a tour of the building.

As I entered the doorway of the First Grade classroom, the teacher’s lesson came to a halt. The children promptly stood up and greeted me, saying in unison, “Good morning.” I was amazed to see this and so pleased to know that courtesy and respect were an integral part of the “lessons being taught.” It was then that I knew this school would be the right fit for me. I wanted to share with everyone what I had experienced in that brief moment.

I formally joined the St. John the Baptist School family that September, working alongside my colleagues, all dedicated to the job of teaching, learning and growing together, joining efforts to help the students entrusted to our care to flourish. Over time I witnessed many “little miracles” unfold as the children gained confidence in themselves as academic learners, kind friends, and most importantly, beloved children of God.

The phrase “We Are All Family” holds true for this school community. I can recall more than one child saying to me “This feels like being at home.” St. John the Baptist School does feel that way for those who have passed through our doors, beginning the day the school opened in 1925 to the present time. Many generations of families have filled the classrooms throughout the years and life long friendships have been made and continue to evolve every day.

In June 2017, I retired from my formal employment as a teacher. However, one never really leaves the SJB family. Since that time I have remained a part of the school, happily serving the needs of the students as a volunteer. I continue to hold the words expressed in II Timothy 3:14 close to my heart, knowing they reflect the mission of this wonderful little school community that is well loved by so many. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned

it.” Amen

My name is Fran Flynn. I live in East Longmeadow with my husband Rich .We have three children, five grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. I have been on the staff at St. John the Baptist School for twenty seven years. I was warmly welcomed into the SJB family and immediately felt like I belonged. It was exciting to be here for the opening of Nursery School. We started with fifteen three and four year olds and increased enrollment every year until reaching sixty students. I have had the privilege of following their progress through the years at SJB with many coming back to tell me about their high school and college accomplishments or just to reminisce about the great friendships and memories they have of our school. Many former students send their children here for their first learning experience. One of the benefits of teaching in a smaller school is you get to know every student and their families. I retired as Nursery School teacher in 2012 but stayed on as Extended Care Director so I still get to spend time with students who are respectful and caring as well as with staff members. I was blessed with Monsignor Gosselin’s spiritual guidance and the leadership, support and friendship of Jack Rizzo, Steve Hale and Shelly Rose.

As an SJB alumna, I am very proud to have my daughters attend and graduate from St. John the Baptist School. I have many fond memories from my days there and I’m glad that both my daughters have had positive experiences. A few things come to mind when I think of SJB – a sense of community, a strong moral base which stems from our Catholic faith and a drive to make each student excel. SJB takes the time to develop each student both academically and spiritually. They truly do their best to ensure that each student strives to become the best version of themselves as intended by God. We are truly blessed to have such quality Catholic education in our community. Isabel (Pereira) Yoingco, Class of ‘86

My experience at St. John’s instilled in me the importance of family, which has continued with me through high school and college. Being taught in an environment that encouraged faith lead me to choose a Catholic high school and college, both of which have shaped and challenged me academically and spiritually. I continue to use the organization and study skills that were honed into my daily experience at St. John the Baptist School. I am grateful for SJBS for allowing me to make lifelong friends that have become family.

-Rachael Mahoney '10

My son flourished under the care of St. John the Baptist's preschool teacher, Mrs. Ratkiewicz. He comes home from school excited to share the new things he's learning. Each week, she sends him home with a new book from the classroom library; as a result, he has developed a love for reading these and other stories with me at home. I am thoroughly impressed with the organization and attention to detail that the preschool staff have. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend SJB to friends and family looking for early education options for their children." - Jennifer Lopez

My daughter has been going to St. John's since preschool. She is now in the 5th grade. It's a great school with truly dedicated and caring teachers." Christine Peyman

My name is Connor Martins, and I’m a member of the graduated St. John the Baptist class of 2016. Today marks the beginning of Catholic Schools Week at St. John the Baptist and at Catholic educational institutions all over the United States. As current students and their families participate in open houses, masses, and fun activities to celebrate Catholic education, it gives me the opportunity to reflect on my experience at the school. St. John the Baptist is where I went to school since I was five-years old and up through eighth grade when I graduated. I saw friends come and go as they went down different roads to their futures. But, as for those of us who remained, we experienced a truly fulfilling education that intertwined the fundamentals of our faith with those of our academics in a way that prepared us for high school, college, and a life after that. Thanks to the small student-to-teacher ratio, ours was an experience so much more than just reading, writing, memorizing, and assessing. Rather, we were immersed in and engaged by the work we did in and out of the classroom, frequently getting the time to have one-on-one sessions with our teachers for extra help or advice on any issue that might be of importance to us. In addition, lasting friendships were formed as we grew together in faith and intelligence, learning more about ourselves and each other every single day. We were blessed by the opportunity to attend mass every month and participate in the spiritually fulfilling adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ. We also learned the history of our faith and how those theological lessons could be applied to our daily lives, even when Old Testament stories might have seemed confusing or contradictory. The school did an excellent job of preparing me for the years of high school I would be a part of, which came across as intimidating and difficult. However, thanks to the wonderful and experienced teaching staff at St. John’s, I was more than ready to take on the challenges of exams, heavy homework loads, and, perhaps the most difficult, balancing sports and academics while keeping God at the center of my life. Since I am now in a Catholic high school, I find it easy to draw from what I learned at St. John the Baptist for strength, knowledge, and adaptability. I believe such an education as the one provided by this school is remarkably helpful to the students because it not only teaches them literature, math, and science, but also guides them along the path of spiritual righteousness and into the arms of our Heavenly father. Without a Catholic experience like the one I had here, I fear that God may have not had such an impact on my lifestyle as he does today, which is something serious to consider when making a decision about your child’s education. To give back everything this school has given to me would be an incredibly difficult thing to do and is something I will pursue throughout my life and something that, with the help of God, I hope to accomplish. This school is sincerely dedicated to bettering the lives of its students and even its staff and faculty, something that deserves the coming celebration of Catholic schools week and that should be recognized by our community.

My name is Nathan Ferreira and I am a proud alumnus of Saint John the Baptist School, having graduated with the class of 2012. I have only ever had positive memories of SJBS, having formed many wonderful relationships with my teachers and classmates, but as I have grown older I have come to appreciate the more intangible benefits of my K-8 education. I know now that my years at SJBS provided the richest foundation possible for my future moral, spiritual, and intellectual development. The faculty of SJBS were always attentive to me and dedicated themselves to ingraining in me a commitment to Christian ethical values and academic excellence. Above all, whether I was inside or outside the classroom, I always felt that the SJBS community was like a family, a family that loved and nurtured its own members while also making each newcomer feel not like a stranger but like one of its own.

My name is Fiona O’Sullivan, and I am an alumni of St. John the Baptist School. I started my journey in Mrs. Flynn's preschool classroom. Although I cannot remember my exact feelings on my very first day, I was told I latched onto my mother’s legs as she tried to leave before Mrs. Flynn took me by the hand and led me into her class. When it was time to go home, a similar event occurred except this time I was latching onto Mrs. Flynn and my mother was the one pulling me away. I guess this goes to show how even at a very young age, I was in love with the school that would later become my second home. At Saint John’s, not only was I encouraged to embrace my faith and further my understanding of what it means to be a Roman Catholic, but I was also able to see how the things I learned in my religion classes translated into my everyday life. You can share a favorite TV show, or play on the same sports team, but nothing quite bonds people like shared values. For this reason, my classmates and my teachers were like family to me. When I graduated from St. John’s and entered public school, I found that everyone had different values and beliefs. As a fourteen-year-old I was able to respect other's beliefs while still holding true to my own, but I imagine that at a younger age I would have allowed my morals to be manipulated in order to fit in. When it comes to something as delicate as morality I believe a child must have the opportunity to talk about their religious beliefs without being disrespected. I would not be the person I am today if I didn't have the nurturing environment I had at St. John the Baptist School. Public school can give you a good education, but St. John’s gives you a foundation for life. I encourage you all to please consider attending the school’s upcoming Open House on Wednesday, January 31st from 6-7:30pm to learn more about the great opportunities St. John the Baptist School has to offer. Thank and God Bless!

We will never regret the choice we made in enrolling our daughter at St. John the Baptist School. SJB helped to create and build a strong foundation for our daughter with qualities that extended way beyond the classroom that were important to our family: faith, service, values and compassion to others. It is through these important qualities as well as being surrounded by people who made her a better person that allows her to continue to grow and thrive currently as a freshman at Stonehill College.

Donna Tyburski