Do you know what it is like to keep coming back to a good thing? Well, that is exactly the case for Kara Magdaleno and St. John Vianney Catholic School. This school year, Kara’s daughter, Gabriella, is in 8th grade, her tenth year at SJV School. She has traversed every single classroom, every extra-curricular, participated on any team she could and has exhausted her SJV School experience. To say this mom is proud is an understatement. One might assume this is the peak of joy and pride for Kara until they learn that she has the privilege and opportunity to experience St. John Vianney School again through the eyes of her son, Michael. Yes, Kara will be part of the SJV School family for going on ten more years with her son who is a current TK student. For those families who know and love what the school offers students and their families, Kara can attest to sharing in that confidence that her son will be so lucky to experience some of the same memories that her daughter has had.
Kara, a Rancho Cordova native knows the legacy of St. John Vianney Catholic School in the community. She actually aspired to be a SJV Tiger herself but, due to school capacity and class sizes at the time, was not admitted. Kara’s family has been in the community since 1965 and has even invested so much as to have multiple family members in the teaching profession here in Rancho Cordova. Kara’s family is deeply committed to their faith. Having grown up in the Episcopal Church (Saint Clement’s), Kara knows first-hand how God has played a role in her life growing up and His significance to her children, families and the community. After attending college on the East coast at Stony Brook University, Kara returned to her roots here in Rancho Cordova to raise her family.
Gabriella is a walking example of how a Catholic education can support, grow and challenge a student. Kara says of Gabriella’s time with SJV School, “Every staff person knows her, supports her growth. They teach the whole child.” While this is everyone’s hope, that their child is appropriately challenged, encouraged and celebrated be it in the classroom, on the court or in the community; students like Gabriella are evidence that it happens at St. John Vianney Catholic School.
Kara continues to praise the school’s team, the teachers and faculty who keep the school operating. “The communication from all of the staff is helpful and they tell us what is happening and keep us in the know.” In March of 2020, a month we will always remember, Kara recalls the transition to learning at home due to COVID-19 as smooth, seamless and effective. The immediate response to the pandemic and the ongoing care to maintain normalcy in the years to come has impressed Kara, further reinforcing her decision to provide a Catholic education for her daughter and now her son.
Michael is seven months into his school year as a transitional kindergarten student. Every day he is excited for school according to Kara. His joy for the classroom, teachers, friends and the overall experience is a gift. Kara recalls conversations on the way home from school with Michael as telling, insightful and often times humorous. He is quick to recount his day, telling mom what he did, who he played with, what activities he was part of. The amount of information that spills from Michael puts a smile on Kara’s face, she knows he is in the right place at the right time. Having a TK student and an 8th grade student allows this mom to watch her children work in tandem to grow. Michael is constantly aspiring to be like his big sister. He can now watch her at home and school, and model his behavior after hers. Likewise, Gabriella is experiencing the gift of time, to be in school with her younger brother before her life changes with graduation and the impacts of high school. She can be present for many of his firsts at school, she can celebrate his good days and give a loving hug on days that might require one.
For these siblings to share in this school year while simultaneously having their own individual momentous years is a blessing in itself for Kara and their family. Between sports tournaments, enjoying the beach, baking together and traveling to experience new places; this family keeps their feet firmly planted on the ground. Kindness is a virtue that our students learn about through the Education in Virtue program. To see virtuous behavior play-out unprompted by students and even more so, rippling out to their families makes the “work” of a school staff all worthwhile and some. Kara, Gabriella, Michael and their entire family embody the word kindness. Through Gabriella and now again through Michael, St. John Vianney Catholic School will benefit from the time we have with Kara and her family. At SJV School, it is our absolute pleasure, honor and privilege to educate students every day. We are blessed beyond measure here at St. John Vianney Catholic School.