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Faculty Friday feat. Mrs. Cardillo

September 21, 2018
By CKS Advancement

Meet Mrs. Paula Cardillo, one of the newest additions to our middle school team, and possibly the most zealous Arkansas fan we know! No stranger to CKS, Mrs. Cardillo spent several years as a 1st grade teacher and middle school math tutor before making her way to the second floor. Read more about Mrs. Cardillo’s ardent belief in Catholic education, her surprising favorite superhero and why she loves CKS!  


Paula Cardillo


12 years of Catholic Education; 4 at an all-girls high school

Bachelor’s Elementary Education, Minor in Sociology

Certification in Middle School Mathematics

What do you teach at CKS?

7th Grade Pre-Algebra, Algebra and Religion

What is the most valuable lesson you've learned while teaching?

That all kids are different, and they were made that way because God has a special purpose planned for them.

What is your favorite food?

I just enjoy eating in general, especially when I am with my husband and three kids–it doesn't happen as often as I would like now that two are away at college.

What is one interesting fact about you?

My family teases me about it, but I will approach and talk to anyone who is wearing, has a bumper sticker, has a license plate or anything related to Arkansas. If we are on vacation or at Disney, I will always find someone.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 

My family

When you were in Kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A missionary

Who is your favorite superhero?

Mary Poppins....anyone who can make work seem fun is pretty cool, and she always has a practical, happy attitude about everything.

What is one thing you want your students to take away from this school year?

I want them to have a love, or at least, an appreciation for math and its ability to help us problem solve. I want my Religion students to learn how interesting the Bible can be.

Why do you teach?

I have wanted to be a teacher since I worked with my first student in my Senior year of high school. I like when students "get it,” but more than that, when they feel proud that they "got it."

Why do you love CKS?

I believe in Catholic education and the lasting impact that it has on students.

Want to learn more about our 7th grade program? Click here to find out.

So How Was School Today?

September 19, 2018
By Lexi Tolbert

It’s the end of the school day. You finally get to the front of the pick-up line and your kids get in the car. They are sweaty, hair’s a mess and have a backpack bigger than they are. They greet you with a big smile and you ask them your daily question, “So how was school today?”

Some parents may be fortunate enough to get a play-by-play of how their child’s day went. They will tell you which co-curricular classes they attended, what they did in science class, who won the kickball game at recess and what their teacher was wearing today. However, most parents, especially those of middle school students, will get the typical one-word responses ­– “fine,” “boring,” or “good.” Definitely not an accurate description of how their day REALLY went!

Kids spend about seven hours a day at school, and we know there is more action in their day than a one-word description alone can give. Whether your child is in EC4, 8th grade or anywhere in between, here are 25 ways to ask your kids “So How Was School Today?”:

1. What was the best thing that happened at school today?

2. Tell me something that made you laugh today.

3. If you could choose who you would like to sit by in class, who would it be? Why?

4. Where is the coolest place at school?

5. Tell me a vocabulary word you learned today. Can you use it in a sentence?

6. If I called your teacher tonight, what would they say about you?

7. How did you show kindness today?

8. How did someone else show kindness today?

9. Tell me one thing you learned today.

10. When were you the happiest today?

11. When did you lose focus today?

12. Which one of your teachers would survive a zombie apocalypse? Why?

13. Who would you like to play/hang out with at recess that you’ve never played/hung out with before?

14. Tell me something good that happened today.

15. What do you think you should do/learn more/less of at school?

16. Who brought the best food in their lunch today? What was it?

17. Who made you smile today?

18. What did you do at recess today?

19. Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

20. Who is the funniest person in your class? Why is he/she so funny?

21. If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?

22. If you could switch seats with anyone in the class who would it be? Why?

23. Tell me three different times you used your pencil today at school.

24. Tell me how you used your surface to learn something new today.

25. When did you feel most proud of yourself today?

[Questions adapted from]

You may be surprised how content rich conversations begin from a simple question other than, “How was school today?” Good Luck!

CKS alumna Lexi Tolbert is in her second year as middle school counselor at CKS. While pursuing her Masters in Counselor Ed, Mrs. Tolbert worked at CKS as a teaching assistant and served part of her counseling internship here, as well as local public middle schools. In addition to her counselor role, she is the Beta Club faculty advisor and an assistant coach for the CKS girls varsity volleyball team.

Faculty Friday feat. Mrs. Pantelis

September 14, 2018
By CKS Advancement

Mrs. Denise Pantelis is one of our newest CKS Lions and this week’s Faculty Friday feature. A veteran Catholic educator, Mrs. Pantelis brings a love of our Catholic faith, a heart for her 1st grade students and a joyful presence to CKS. Read more about Mrs. Pantelis’ favorite class activity and why she loves CKS!


Denise Pantelis


Bachelor's in Education – Florida State University; Certification in Early Childhood Education Age 3-Grade 3 and Spanish K-12

What is the most valuable lesson you've learned while teaching?

In order for students to reach their full potential you must reach their hearts before you try to reach their heads. Once you get their hearts, you can get anything!

What are your hidden talents?

I speak passable Spanish. I'm a good cook and baker.

What is one interesting fact about you?

I was a competitive swimmer as a kid. My maternal grandfather was a two-time Kentucky Derby winning jockey and my dad was a professional golfer on the PGA tour.

What is your dream vacation?

Anywhere in Europe! I love to travel! I'd also like to visit Banff National Park.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 

My greatest accomplishment is becoming a mother to my children, Emily and Alexander.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to read, spend time with my family and travel.

When you were in Kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A teacher

What adjective best describes you?


What is your favorite classroom activity/project? Why?

I love preparing to host a class Mass. It is such a joy to see children be active participants in the celebration of the Mass.

What is one thing you want your students to take away from this school year?

That they are loved!

Why do you teach?

When God knit me together, He created me to be a teacher. It is my vocation.

Why do you love CKS?

I love the strong Catholic identity at CKS. It's a very welcoming place to be!

Want to learn more about our 1st grade program? Click here to find out.

Faculty Friday feat. Mrs. Clark

September 07, 2018
By CKS Advancement

Meet CKS alumna and 4th grade teacher Mrs. Sarah Salem Clark.  This social butterfly is always finding creative ways to instill a love of reading in her students and cheers them on with the same gusto she cheered with as a CKS student!  We are so glad that she decided to be a teacher instead of a cowgirl! Read more about Mrs. Clark, what brought her back to her alma mater and why she loves CKS!


Sarah Salem Clark


Bachelor’s in Finance – Florida State University; Certification in Elementary Education

What do you teach at CKS?

4th grade language arts, reading, writing and social studies

What is the most valuable lesson you've learned while teaching?

Kids are capable of amazing things when you allow them to take on a challenge on their own.

What is your favorite food?


What are your hidden talents?

My students always compliment my amazing singing voice ;)

What is one interesting fact about you?

When I was a CKS student I was in 4B and now it’s my homeroom again!

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? 

Finishing the Paris marathon!

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Fixing up my new house, reading, Orange Theory and loving on my cats.

When you were in Kindergarten, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A cowgirl

What adjective best describes you?


What is your favorite classroom activity/project? Why?

Book Clubs. I love seeing students take control of their learning, hearing their perspectives and watching how respectful they are of each other.

What is one thing you want your students to take away from this school year?

A love for reading

Why do you teach?

I love helping kids go beyond their own expectations and bringing fun and excitement into the classroom

Why do you love CKS?

The best teachers I ever had were at CKS. Being a teacher here now shows me how strong this staff works to make God, our CKS families and a love of learning our top priorities!

Want to learn more about our 4th grade program? Click here to find out.


August is the New January: 4 Ways to Reset for a New School Year

September 06, 2018
By Stefanie Lowrey

I listen to many podcasts on my lengthy commute to school, and one message I have heard repeatedly is that “August is the new January!” The more I pondered, the more I agreed, and the longer I’m in the field of education (21 years now!), the more I know it’s true. We are blessed to start anew every August. The beginning of each school year gives school administrators an opportunity to consider a new focus–a message that we want to make sure resonates with our teachers, our students and our families. But school administrators are not the only ones who can enjoy a new start! 

Here are four ways that we can all reset for a new beginning:

Welcome the challenge.   

Students should feel accomplished–they have successfully completed the previous grade, mastered skills, matured and are ready for the next challenge. It should feel like a challenge! New teachers, new classroom, new subjects and curriculum–it will take a little time to get used to (just like that new workout you start every January 1!). Encourage the fact that change in progression is normal–there may be bumps along the way, but the benefits are endless!

Get organized.

Who doesn’t love cracking open new school supplies, agendas and backpacks?! I personally cannot wait to dig into my new planner every year! Model great organizational behaviors with your children. Work out of an at-home (or in the car) command center that has calendars, supplies, school forms, etc. Spend time each evening reviewing RenWeb posts or checking Home Folders. Check your next day’s schedule while your child checks theirs. Use the hooks or cubbies by the front door to put PE clothes, projects and lunches so they make it to the car every morning.

Trust the process.

How many times have we asked our children, “what did you do at school today?” only to receive a murmured “nothing” or a shrug at best. Believe me–your kids are BUSY all day here at CKS! We put our academic rigor at the forefront of our vision. We have worked diligently to provide our teachers with the most effective and research-proven curriculum resources available. We also share digital versions of some of our resources with you. Hop on to the Science or Math online dashboards and take a look at the virtual labs and math manipulatives! Review some of the literature pieces that are used for class discussions and Socratic Seminars in middle school Language Arts. This makes for some great dinner or carpool conversation.  

Set your goals.

Work with your students on basic goal setting. We work to foster a culture of independent reading at CKS, and you will be hearing about this all throughout this school year. Talk about a family goal on the amount of reading you will do each night, each week, or even each month. When cooking, or building a tree house, or shopping at the grocery store, throw in some math questions. We know that if you can explain it, you understand it.

We are so excited to start this year with your children. Thank you for entrusting us with their spiritual and academic development. Happy New Year!

Stefanie Lowrey has a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education and English with Gifted Education and a Masters in Educational Leadership from St. Leo University. She enjoys yoga, decorating, reading and boating, and has been known to belt out a Broadway tune or two around CKS. Mrs. Lowrey lives in Pasco County with her husband and almost 16-year-old son, and is getting used to having a daughter in college in North Carolina! This is her fourth New Year’s celebration as Assistant Principal at CKS.

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