THE HISTORY OF ST. THOMAS THE APOSTLE SCHOOL
The first building of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish and School was dedicated on April 2, 1964. It provided a chapel on the first floor and classrooms on the second. Archbishop Coleman Carroll engaged the Sisters of Mercy of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as teachers in the new school. Father Patrick Slevin was the pastor.
School began for the children of the parish in September of 1964 with grades Kindergarten through fourth. Sister Gabriel was the first principal, as well as teacher. Some of the pioneer teachers were Sister Celesta Staab, Sister Christopher Wahl and Mrs. Lorraine O’Brien.
The years between 1965 and 1968 saw the addition of a fifth and sixth grade class with Sister Marie Benedict as principal. Sister Rebecca Frome arrived in 1969 as a teaching principal. She saw in 1971 the addition of a seventh grade, and the following year, an eighth grade class. With every available space utilized on the second floor, the expansion made it necessary to build two temporary classrooms in the church. When this happened, Sister Rebecca became a full time principal.
St. Thomas continued to grow with the construction of the second building under the guidance of Father Christopher Konkol. This building housed a Chapel and a Family Center, which was dedicated on July 3, 1973 by Archbishop Coleman Carroll. The addition of this new building allowed for the remodeling of the original building (the old church), which provided much needed classroom and office space. It is with pride that the original building was renamed “Mercy Wing.”
Sister Rebecca retired from our school in 1979. Sister Carol Koester, who had been teaching first grade for four years, took over as principal. St. Thomas the Apostle was fortunate to have Sister Carol as principal from 1979-1986.
In 1989, St. Thomas the Apostle welcomed Father Daniel I. Kubala as its sixth pastor. He immediately led a campaign to enlarge the school to meet the needs of the growing parish family. Mrs. Emma Ventura was principal from 1990-1992. The growth during this time included two Pre-kindergarten classes, as well as a second class for Kindergarten and first grade. The next seven years saw the addition of one class for each of the remaining grades.
In 1992, St. Thomas the Apostle welcomed Sister Madeleine, O.C.D., as principal, and the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles to the school, continuing the example of faith and commitment to Catholic education.
In October of 1995, the dedication of the McCarthy Wing took place along with the rededication of our original building as the Mercy Wing, honoring the pioneering Sisters of Mercy.
Mrs. Nuria F. Baldor, who had been assistant principal since 1996, took over as principal of St. Thomas the Apostle in February of 2000 and finalized the completion of the new building in the summer of that year. In order to accommodate the continuing growth of the school, the old rectory building was remodeled to house a music room, a Spanish room and two Pre-kindergarten homerooms. The new facilities boasted a Carmelite Wing, which included five homerooms, an art room, a science lab, a computer lab and a media center.
Mrs. Lisa M. Figueredo, alumni of St. Thomas, and formerly a teacher and Dean at St. Thomas, is currently the School Principal. Mrs. Figueredo started programs such as The Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton gifted program and a laptop program for the Junior High students demonstrating her commitment to technology. She also implemented Genesis, a science and technology enhancement program, the strings and band program, and an award winning drama program. She has lowered class sizes by twenty percent. In 2011, a PK2 program was added to the school. Mrs. Figueredo achieved her vision in 2014 when the school was authorized as the first Catholic International Baccalaureate World School in the Archdiocese of Miami. Mrs. Figueredo’s principle goal is not only to see students growing in Knowledge but more importantly in Faith.
In August of 2013 our Parish and School community welcomed Fr. Alejandro Rodriguez Artola, alumni of St. Thomas as Pastor. His mission is to guide our community into a closer and loving relationship with Our Lord.