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Principal’s Efforts Draw More Students to CISE

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By Joe Bride

Folks who live and work in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood know school is in full blast when they spot the six-foot, seven-inch frame of Halsey Mabry roaming the neighborhood streets. It is something he has been doing for years.

Mabry is the principal of St. Francis Seraph School and he has become legendary for his relentless efforts to recruit students for his school.

St. Francis Seraph is one of nine CISE (Catholic Inner City School Education) elementary schools that serves more than 2,100 students in some of Cincinnati’s most under-served neighborhoods.

Mabry’s efforts – and those of his associates at the other CISE schools – launched this school year with one of the most diversified and strongest programs offered to inner-city students since its founding 39 years ago.

This year CISE is serving more scholars and aggressively working to move the needle on poverty eradication.

Last year, 95 percent of students passed the third grade reading guarantee and 86 percent of eighth grade graduates were accepted into Catholic high schools. These students will received CISE scholarships for high school.

“Our goals are clear,” said Mabe Rodriquez, CISE executive director. “We have stronger partnerships and bolder fundraising goals. We help rewrite the future of inner-city children by creating excellence in education and combine this with also teaching values for life. Importantly, this all takes place in a safe, nurturing, respective, inclusive environment.

“We are stronger than ever,” she added. “We are investing more than one million dollars in a math intervention program across all nine elementary schools and all grade levels to advance the performance of our scholars even further. Additionally we are providing summer support with engagement activities placing further emphasis on academics. There is much more, including a nurse in every school.

“The total result is a balanced program of achievement in which gospel values are taught in an environment of respect, safety and discipline. We are eternally grateful for the support of our donors and thank them for their continued support as we face the challenges of the future.”

The CISE schools are Corryville Catholic in Clifton; Holy Family in Resurrection, St. Lawrence and St. William in Price Hill; St. Boniface in Northside; St. Francis de Sales in Walnut Hills; St. Francis Seraph in Over-the-Rhine and St. Joseph in West End.

The students of these schools are 85 percent minority, 96 percent in poverty and 74 percent non-Catholic.

The type of success that CISE hopes to build in its students was beautifully explained by Phuong Phan, a recent graduate of Seton High School, “CISE does not only rewrite futures, but also allows for the pursuit of dreams.”

Phan went on to say that CISE not only allowed her to achieve her dreams, but the dreams of her parents.

She added, “The person that I am now would have been totally different [without CISE]. Thank you for allowing me to chase my dreams and for giving so many others that opportunity.”

Halsey Mabry, principal of St. Francis Seraph School in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine.
Halsey Mabry, principal of
St. Francis Seraph School in
Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine.
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