The seeds of St. Gabriel School's vibrant future were sown back in 1963 when the Sisters of Holy Humility of Mary opened our school in Concord, Ohio, as a daughter school to St. Mary's School in Painesville. Initially under the educational guidance of Sister Benedicta and the pastoral direction of Father Bernard Brady, St. Gabriel School offered grades one through four and planned to add one grade each year until the eighth grade was completed.
In 1967, the Dominican Sisters assumed leadership of the school and served the educational needs of the children until 1971 when the good Sisters of Notre Dame began their long and dedicated service at the school. Sister Mary Lisa Novak was appointed principal.
While St. Gabriel School was initially founded to provide a strong academic curriculum rooted in Catholic principles, it quickly became apparent that the school would need to adapt to changing times and provide additional programs, facilities and opportunities for our children's spiritual, academic and social growth. In the ensuing years, the school joined the Catholic Youth Organization sports program, officially formed an active Parent Teacher Union, began to integrate technology in the classroom, introduced a hot lunch program and began to analyze space requirements.
With the growing population in the Concord and surrounding areas came an increase in the school's enrollment. To meet the increased need for space, Father Robert Pahler, who had assumed the role of parish pastor in 1977, worked with the parish's finance council and school administration to embark on an expansion project in 1980 which added 16 classrooms thus enabling the school to accommodate two classrooms each in grades one through eight.
In 1986, the former church was converted from what is now known as the Pahler Center or school gym to its present home and a new space was carved for our children to hold gym classes, sports practices, stage presentations and school assemblies. The following year, Sister Josephmarie, from the Sisters of Notre Dame, began her service as principal of the school, steering the course of the school through many more changes and continuous improvement over the next 19 years. Again responding to the need for increased enrollment, St. Gabriel School added its current kindergarten program in 1991 which today has grown to accommodate both full- and half-day programs. Also in 1991, the parish welcomed its next pastor, Father Fred Pausche, who continues to lead and champion the cause of Catholic education today.
A new leader
At the start of the new millennium, St. Gabriel School embarked on a bold expansion and renovation project which again expanded classrooms and laboratories and the school was officially renamed the St. Gabriel Center for Catholic Education. In 2006, Donna Lee Saladino was chosen as the current principal of St. Gabriel School and we were again poised for dramatic growth. This time, the changes were internal. Curricula, test scores and instruction processes have been analyzed and improved across the board. Technology has been integrated at every level. Honors classes, extracurricular opportunities and service projects have all been added to the educational experience. In the past three years, with funds raised from a new school Walkathon event, a new playground was built, the gym was renovated, a mobile laptop was added and sound amplification systems were purchased for grades kindergarten through fourth grade.
Poised for the future
St. Gabriel School continues on a future-focused path while still grounded in its founding vision of a strong academic education rooted in Catholic principles. We serve the educational and spiritual needs of families in St. Gabriel Parish and neighboring faith communities including St. Mary Painesville, St. Mary of the Assumption Mentor, St. Mary Chardon, St. William, St. Anthony of Padua, St. Cyprian, Immaculate Conception, St. John Vianney, St. Bede the Venerable, St. Patrick, St. Noel, Mentor United Methodist and Christian L.I.F.E. Our students come to us from several school districts representing a total of nine different zip codes. We welcome students of all races and ethnic origins, as well as, religious backgrounds. The school adheres to State Standards as well as the Cleveland Catholic Diocese Graded Course of Study. We offer an excellent, Christ-centered education in grades kindergarten through eighth-grade. We have grown from our humble, four-classroom roots in 1963 to a vibrant center of excellence in youth education and faith formation.
Celebrating 50 Years of Growing in Wisdom, Grace, and Knowledge
In 2016, the whole St. Gabriel Community celebrated our 50th Jubilee! The theme was Rediscover, Renew, Re-Evangelize and the logo was created by alumni, Maddie Lough. We took time look back and thank those who founded the school with great sacrifice. We now enjoy the fruits of their labor and thank them. We carry the torch on with the desire to grow closer to God, to keep growing in wisdom, grace, and knowledge and remain a leader in Catholic education.
Full Steam Ahead!
In 2017, St. Gabriel School made great progress in the areas of STEAM education by obtaining a State of Ohio Department of Education STEM School Designation. One of two Catholic schools to earn this honor as of 2017.