St. James Episcopal School Closing Ceremony

On May 30, SJES celebrated the 2012-2013 school year with a closing ceremony. As usual, it was a bittersweet goodbye full of thankfulness for the time we spent with these precious kids and sadness that we won't see as much of them in the future.

The most important thing to be thankful for is that we have been able to fulfill our mission: to encourage the development of the whole child in a caring community for children from diverse religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds.

Ellen Jockush, our head of school, speaks of the closing ceremony as the culmination of this mission, and says that the school is sending them on to their next stage in life with hearts better prepared to face the world.  What a happy and comforting thought that is.

Do you need more evidence that the kids' hearts are well-prepared?  Look at the energy they put into singing "Hide it under a bushel? NO!" from one of their favorite songs, This Little Light of Mine.

These children have lights that burn brightly, and we wish them the fire to nuture those lights for the rest of their lives.  

Erin Peloquin, CPA, is a photographer at Time in a Camera in Austin, TX.  She attends St. James Episcopal Church, and the community there strengthens her and enriches her life daily.  She is unreservedly committed to social justice.  Erin blogs about the church and life with kids for St. James Espiscopal School in order to give back to a school that does so much for others.


Blessings from St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School

St. Matthew's Episcopal Day School, our northwest Austin neighbor, has long been a supporter of St. James' Episcopal Day School.  Through donations of school supplies for classrooms and the funding of a half-scholarship for a student, this is a relationship to give thanks for.

I especially give thanks for it as the mother of a child who attends St. Matthew's.  As close as my heart is to St. James, I enrolled my daughter in St. Matthew's because I needed a part-time program before St. James offered this option, and because St. Matthew's is much closer to our home.

I can't describe my joy, then, when I learned last week that St. Matthew's Day School had decided to increase its support to SJES in the future.  As part of its Episcopal identity, St. Matthews has committed to give SJES a portion of its annual fund raising income.

St . Matthew’s Episcopal Day School is a half-day preschool with enrollment of 200  students ages 2 years through kindergarten.  The program at St. Matthew’s School promotes the child’s total physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual development. It encourages in each child a love of God as we know God in Jesus Christ, a positive view of self, creative  self-expression, an attitude of cooperation and sharing, and an expanding knowledge of the world in which we live.


 Erin Peloquin, CPA, is a photographer at Time in a Camera in Austin, TX.  She attends St. James Episcopal Church, and the community there strengthens her and enriches her life daily.  She is unreservedly committed to social justice.  Erin blogs about the church and life with kids for St. James Espiscopal School in order to give back to a school that does so much for others.



St. James Epispcopal Church Invites You to Easter Services

Are you looking for a church where you can celebrate Easter this year?  We’d love to have you at St. James!

Children play a special role in our glorious Easter Sunday services. They start by walking into the sanctuary as a group.  They process to a special Easter cross at the altar and blanket it with flowers. It’s a beautiful creation once the kids have finished with it.

If you have flowers growing at home, please bring your own.  If not, our Christian Formation ministry will share with you from flowers growing on the church grounds.  Kids can bring their parents in the procession if they’d like.

To take part in this procession, line up on the front lawn of the church, if weather permits, before our services on Sunday.  If the weather isn't nice, meet in Founder’s Hall (the building near the dumpsters).

After flowering the cross, kids will sit with their parents in the sanctuary.  The activity bags, which are available in the narthex (the entry way to the church) will have extra activities to keep them busy during church.  Children younger than 3 can stay in the nursery as well.

Our regularly scheduled youth programs will not take place on Easter Sunday.

Another opportunity for the kids to participate in the Easter services is during the singing of the Gloria.  Kids proclaim the glory they feel by ringing bells as loud as they can during this song.  Bring you own bells, if you have them.  If not, you’ll find a basket of bells to choose from on your way into the service.

Last but not least, for the kids anyway, is the Easter Egg Hunt.  Bring Easter baskets so the kids can take part in the mad rush for sugar! It would be great if you could contribute 3 dozen stuffed plastic eggs to the hunt, but guess what?  We’ll have plenty to share if not.  I for one would be thrilled for my kids to come home with less sugar this year.  These hunts will take place after our 10:15, 1:00 and 5:30 services.

To take part in the hunts, please gather immediately after the service near the picnic tables behind Founders Hall.

I visited with one family from St. James Episcopal School at church last Sunday, and I would love to meet you on Easter Day! 

Erin Peloquin, CPA, is a photographer at Time in a Camera in Austin, TX.  She attends St. James Episcopal Church, and the community there strengthens her and enriches her life daily.  She is unreservedly committed to social justice.  Erin blogs about the church and life with kids for St. James Espiscopal School in order to give back to a school that does so much for others.


How St. James Episcopal Church Welcomes Families with Kids on Sundays

Hello everyone.  My name is Erin and I am a member of St. James  Episcopal Church.  Our neighbor, St. James School, is dear to my heart, and I asked Ellen Jockusch to help me become more involved with your school’s life.  She and Sarah put me to work, and here I am, writing on your blog.  I will be back from time to time with articles about St. James Church and life with kids.

I have two daughters.  Sophie is in 3rd grade at Doss Elementary, and Livia will start Kindergarten at Doss next year.  I have a wonderful husband who likes to ride his bike on Sunday mornings, so I often bring the girls to church by myself.  

I vividly remember taking Sophie to church as a brand new baby, and the worries that came along with us:  Was I supposed to leave her in the nursery or could she stay with me? What if she fussed? Would we be a distraction?

We sat down and Sophie was welcomed into the community with a love that I hope she cherishes forever.  I know how sustaining that love is for me.

Fast forward 9 years.  My kids have spent lots of time at St. James.  They’ve cried, they’ve said things way too loud (making lots of people laugh in the process), they’ve spilled drinks and eaten tons of goldfish during the prayers.  They’ve worn princess costumes to church, and showed up in wrinkly clothes with tangled hair. 

And they've learned that they have an extended and incredibly loving family who knows their stories and is sharing with me in their upbringing.

My initial worries about bringing baby Sophie to church were just not necessary.  I am sharing this with you in case anyone else feels like I did.

Here’s what you can expect if you visit St. James Church with your kids on a Sunday.


  1. Come as you are – jeans, shorts, or dressy clothes that would make your mom proud. 
  2. Diversity – no matter what you look like or how you lead your life, odds are you’ll find someone similar at St. James.
  3. Kids are welcomed and cherished at St. James. You can leave your kids under 3 in the nursery or they can sit with you in church.  Kids older than 3 can participate in Catechesis of the Good Shepard, or, again, sit with you in church.  They will join you just before communion if they do attend the Good Shepherd program. 
  4. Insider tip:  if you want your kids to read or play with the quiet toys we provide, sit at the back left side of the church for easy access to the entertainment.
  5. If you bring the kids into church with you, grab a brightly covered playbag near the entrance to the sanctuary.  It will have crayons, paper, maybe some playdoh – fun activities to keep the kids busy.
  6. Look for the goldfish or animal crackers outside the sanctuary if the kids need a snack during the service.  And yes, you can bring them inside the church with you!
  7. Communion - No matter where you are in your journey of faith, you are welcome at this tableThis is what you will hear at St. James just before communion and at many other times.  All are welcome, no one is required.  Take communion if you’d like.  Or simply come to the altar for a blessing without taking bread and wine if you’d like.  Or even stay in your seat.  This applies to kids too.  No one at St. James wants a child to remember a time when he wasn’t welcome at the communion table.
  8. Reverend Lisa is sure to have a warm and welcoming smile that the kids will recognize from chapel at St. James Episcopal School.
  9. Cookies and punch after church.  Enough said.
  10. Bathrooms are close and it is OK to take a break during church.


 Sounds easy and low-stress, right?  Won't you join us?

 English service times are 8:00, 10:15, 1:00 (in Spanish), and 5:30.

Erin Peloquin, CPA, is a photographer at Time in a Camera in Austin, TX.  She attends St. James Episcopal Church, and the community there strengthens her and enriches her life daily.  She is unreservedly committed to social justice.  Erin blogs about the church and life with kids for St. James Espiscopal School in order to give back to a school that does so much for others.



2012 St. James' Episcopal School Annual Report 


St. James’ Episcopal School

January 16, 2013

Board of Trustees 2012-2013


The Rev. Lisa A. Saunders, ex officio

Executive Chair

Priest-in-Charge, St. James’ Episcopal Church


Judith Rhedin


St. James’ Episcopal Church


Simone Talma Flowers

Vice President

St. James’ Episcopal Church


Jane Pfeiffer Michael


St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church


Jack Nokes


St. James’ Episcopal Church


Kent Burress, ex officio

Past President

St. James’ Episcopal Church


Sharon H. Barnett


Marc Bove

St. David’s Episcopal Church


Jim Crosby

St. James’ Episcopal Church


Nell Dale

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church


Cyrus Helm

First United Methodist Church (Houston)


Jane Ferguson Hill

St. James’ Episcopal Church


Jeri Houstoun

St. David’s Episcopal Church


Kelvin King


Brian Lofgren, ex officio

Parent Representative


Alexandra (Ecky) Malick

Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd


Halley Wallingford Ortiz

St. David’s Episcopal Church


Liz Fleming Powell

St. James’ Episcopal Church


Nicolas Shumway

Christ Church Cathedral (Houston)


Kimberly Wilson Vincent

St. James’ Episcopal Church


Ellen Jockusch, ex officio

St. David’s Episcopal Church




Ellen Jockusch, Head of School

Sheri Leonard, Associate Head of School

Sarah Kapostasy, Enrollment and Communications Coordinator (part-time)

Claire Meade, Office Manager (part-time)


Teaching Staff


Montessori  (ages 3-6) – Orange Building (left side)

Veronica Rodriguez

Anita Miranda

Sharon Richesin


Discovery Pre-K (ages 4-5) – Blue Building

Anna Kago

LaToyia Sterns

Asiya Shereen


Discovery II (ages 3-4) – Orange Building (left side)

Marquita Lambirth

Stephen Bollich

Dianna Morris


Discovery I (ages 2-3) – Red Building

Juliet Coppinger

Staci Ellison

Jessica Dorsey


Active Learning  (18-30 months)

Ashley Fay

Jennifer Crespo

Andrea Rainero


Cook and Kitchen Manager

Tina Washington

Annual Report for 2012


2012 was a year of consolidation and strengthening our school program after a time of extraordinary change and growth in 2011.  We started the 2012 school year with 105 students enrolled (full-time equivalent of 95), including a spike in growth in our programs for two-year olds (Red Bldg) and for toddlers (Green).   We have experienced some attrition since August.  This is due to several factors:  parents who had the opportunity to put their child in a tuition-free public pre-K program; parents who moved away; and the vicissitudes of funding for children attending SJES through WorkForce Solutions, a program of the Texas WorkForce Commission, which provides childcare subsidies to families—mainly single mothers—who qualify and comply with ongoing eligibility requirements. 


We continue our commitment to making the School accessible to families who otherwise would not be able to afford our lower-than-the-market full tuition charge.  Our Board of Trustees has committed to fund over $153,000 in financial aid this year, which takes the form of board-raised partial scholarships or discounted tuition (for students children whose tuition is partially subsidized by WorkForce Solutions). Currently, just over half of the 100 children enrolled are receiving scholarships or tuition discounts.  In addition to the wide range of income among our parents, we continue to have a student body that is more ethnically diverse than any Episcopal school in Austin and (likely) Central Texas.  Of the 100 students currently enrolled,


            36 percent – African American

            26 percent – White

            22 percent – Blended Ethnicity

            16 percent – Hispanic (a growing population at SJES)


One of our biggest accomplishments in 2012 was that we ended our fiscal year (on July 31) in the black—the first time since 2008.  Credit for this achievement goes to our dedicated and capable staff who give their best to the children every day, thus attracting more and more families to the school; to our trustees who support the school with their time and treasure; and to the individuals, parishes, and foundations who believe that the work we are doing at St. James’ is important and worthy of their support.  We raised $272,500 for scholarships and operations in 2012; this amount funded just over 34% of our expenses.  Our goal is to gradually increase our “hard” revenue (from tuition) such that it covers 80% of our operating expenses.  This will enable us to budget based on a reasonably predictable revenue stream (enrollment—tuition) thereby allowing us to focus our fundraising on tuition assistance for needy families and program enhancements, rather than general operations.

SJES forged several significant community partnerships in 2012.  We were invited by the United Way of Greater Austin to be a partner of its Success by Six (school-readiness initiative).  We also formed a partnership, through our association with the Arts and Fitness Programs for Young Children (AFPYC), with the Center for Child Protection (CPP).   Educators from CPP did trainings for our staff on recognizing child abuse (and what to do) and they will do a workshop I two weeks for our parents on dealing with positive strategies for discipline and They also provided SJES with two brand-new IBM Explorer Computers for use in our Discovery (kindergarten readiness) classrooms. In addition, Wee Little Arts—a nationally recognized art curriculum for young children—provides art instruction to our older children every week at cost (which the school pays).  Wee Little Arts is offered at St. David’s and Trinity Episcopal School where parents pay over $100 / month for their child to have weekly art classes;  thanks to our partnerships with AFPYC and Wee Little Arts, students at SJES are provided this wonderful art program at no additional charge to parents.


I am pleased that we received grants in 2012 from foundations that had not supported SJES for a number of years.  Among them are the Alice K. Reynolds Foundation, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Texas, and the Georgia B. Lucas Fund at Austin Community Foundation, and the Rachael and Ben Vaughan Foundation.  We also received approval to submit a proposal to the Women’s Fund (ACF) and are hopeful that our request will be funded.  Thanks to a $60,000 grant we received in September from the Dodge Jones Foundation (Abilene), awarded for the purpose of retiring debt we incurred during a cash flow crunch in fall of 2011, we are now debt-free. 


In closing, I want to say again what an honor it is for SJES to be a ministry of the parish.  I truly believe our school—your school—is helping to build the Kingdom of God on earth, today, through providing young children early education of the highest caliber in an environment which engenders a love of learning in them and through which they come to know, both in daily interactions with our nurturing, caring staff and through our chapel program, that they are beloved children of God.  I’m grateful for many ways the parish supports the school—referrals (of prospective families), allowing us to use the sanctuary and Founders Hall, the helpfulness of your parish administrators, including us in your school supply drive and in the ministries of Neighbor to Neighbor, and the great service rendered to the school by parishioners who serve on our Board of Trustees.  I’m also very grateful for the financial support we receive, both from the parish itself and from individual parishioners, and, especially, for your continued prayers for the students and their families; the teachers; and the administrators of St. James’ Episcopal School.


Ellen Jockusch

Head of School

January 16, 2013