New developments at St. Ambrose Academy Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by By Kim Donohoe, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Apr. 26, 2018 -- 12:00 AM


MADISON -- St. Ambrose Academy has recently announced two significant new initiatives that will position the school for future growth and success, including adding new members to its Board of Directors and kicking off a three-year plan to move into a new school building by September 7, 2021.

Continued growth

Since St. Ambrose Academy’s founding in 2003 as Madison’s first independent, classical, Catholic middle and high school, enrollment has grown tenfold. In its first 15 years, St. Ambrose has continually expanded its ability to deliver on its mission of providing Madison-area families with access to a classical education rooted in the Catholic faith.

An outstanding faculty, expanded course offerings, and new extracurricular opportunities have all enhanced the St. Ambrose experience for enrolled students.

With Bishop Robert C. Morlino’s enthusiastic support, St. Ambrose Academy projects continued growth and success. “Our analysis indicates that the next five years will be a period of continued enrollment growth and expanded academic achievement,” said St. Ambrose President David Stiennon.

“As we move toward the completion of our long range plan of educating two sections of students in every grade [sixth-12th], we face many new challenges.”

St. Ambrose Board

Founding St. Ambrose Board members Joan Carey and Robert Marsland have retired from their board positions in recent months, and the St. Ambrose board has recently welcomed Diane Marsland, Tom Rhatican, Katie Haun, and Ken Ballweg as directors. Detailed information about each new board member’s background and expertise is available on St. Ambrose’s website,

“With the departure of two of our founding board members, after nearly 15 years of service, we have been fortunate to welcome four new members who share a commitment to Catholic education and enthusiasm for our classical approach,” said Stiennon.

“All these members bring their own special insights based on their experience in administration, business, or education. I am so grateful to all the members for their generosity in sharing their abilities to advance the Catholic education of youth in our community.”

Building initiative

The St. Ambrose community is very excited to begin this long-awaited building initiative. With a current enrollment of 96 students and steady projected enrollment growth in the near term, the school will outgrow the current facilities at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish.

“St. Thomas Aquinas (STA) Parish has generously shared its education wing with us since 2004. It is our long-range plan to have a school with an enrollment of 280. Well before reaching that level, our current space will be inadequate for school needs,” said Stiennon.

“The parish has recently let us know that it will require its education wing space for parish programs beginning in 2021. We are thus beginning the process for obtaining new school space for classes beginning September 7, 2021. We will consult with fundraising, design, and construction professionals to assist us in preparing the space we will need in 2021. A location has not yet been determined.”

As St. Ambrose Vice President Grant Emmel told school parents at a state-of-the-school presentation last month, when it comes to our new facilities, “we are working with a clean sheet of paper; we are not limited, at this time, by any one thing and this is very exciting.”

"We would never have made it without the generosity of STA, but we simply do not have what is needed for an academic school,” said Dr. Constance Nielsen, director of classical education at St. Ambrose. “We are absolutely thrilled at the prospect of having things that most schools take for granted, like a library! Or a room with biology specimens! Or even a gym!

“SAA already has an excellent curriculum, but these material resources will immeasurably improve our offerings. Our school community will benefit immensely from teachers being able to create their own permanent learning environment in the classroom, not only by simply increasing efficiency but by making the school feel like home.”

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