St. Augustine Academy (SAA), located in Norristown, PA, is an independent tuition-free, out-of-school program for girls in grades one through four. The mission of SAA is to build character, instill a positive sense of self, and provide tangible life skills through a creative curriculum of arts exploration, academic reinforcement, and emotional learning. SAA provides a safe, stable environment where students practice respect for self and others, exercise appropriate interactions with peers and adults, discover new skills and talents, and develop tools that will allow them to achieve greater success in school and beyond.
St. Augustine Academy opened its doors in 2009. As an outreach endeavor supported financially by St. David's Church in Radnor, the idea originated with the young woman serving as a Deacon at the small African American Church, St. Augustines in Norristown. A fundraiser provided the seed money for our program to be launched.
The goals of the program were quite specific. We wanted to enrich the lives of these young girls through exposure to the arts, music, live theater, creative writing, dance, culinary skills, painting, and more. In addition we offered homework support, and a full meal. But above all we wanted to create a safe place where these young at risk girls could discover their creative gifts and build self-esteem.
Our program operates from 3:30 to 6 PM every Monday through Thursday, concurrent with the Norristown Area School District’s schedule. After arriving by bus, provided by SAA, our girls begin their day with a well-balanced, nutritious meal prepared by the volunteers. Sitting down together offers time to refuel, as well as to socialize and converse with friends and our volunteers. The girls take turns beginning our meal time by offering a moment of gratitude and end this time by sharing clean-up responsibilities.
Following the meal, we move into our gentle stretching and meditation time. We prepare our bodies and minds for our creative activities by moving through yoga vinyasas, practicing our balanced breathing, and finding stillness and quiet in our bodies for a few moments. Weighted lap pads and quiet music help the girls to calm themselves and transition from their school day to their time at SAA.
After this quiet time, the girls divide into grade level groups and rotate between classes in dance, music, and visual arts. We enjoy weekly visits from community partners, Wayne Art Center, Theatre Horizon, and Rotation Records as well as classes led by resident teaching artists. Classes are offered to each group for an intensive 8-week session before rotating to the next group. Wednesdays are reserved for special large group activities, special guests and speakers, and field trips.
As SAA is 501 (c)(3) organization, we rely on contributions provided by our generous donors. Our Board’s 100% participation attests to its strong belief in our mission. On behalf of SAA’s management team, board of directors, volunteers, students and their families, we sincerely appreciate your consideration.