evangelization

A Small School with a Big Heart

When Karen Woodhouse heard that her grandson’s classroom didn’t have a teacher just before the start of the 2018-19 school year, she said a prayer to Msgr. Anthony Philip Kremer, founder of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School in Genoa.

The Trussoni family: Nate and Danielle, with children Salvatori, Arianna, Lorenzo and Giovanni.

Kremer was one of the first pastors of St. Charles Borromeo Parish. Not only did he start the school, but also served the parish and community for 33 years. He was such an advocate for education that he required students who were not going to attend high school to repeat the eighth grade.

That commitment to education continues today, as graduates of this preK-6 school go on to become high school valedictorians, college graduates, business owners, involved community members and ready volunteers.

Woodhouse’s grandsons, Grady and Reid, are the fourth generation in their family to attend the “small school with the big heart.” Reid’s classmate Salvatori Trussoni is also a fourth-generation student, along with his younger sister, Arianna.

“An education is simply knowledge unless God is at its center,” said Nate Trussoni, Sal and Ari’s father. “I know St. Charles is the only place of education that will help shape my children into loving, caring people and a helpful part of society.”

More than a century after it was founded in 1907, the school remains a priority for parishioners, who continue to provide financial and moral support. Many in the pews today share the same last names as that original first class: Gianoli, Malin, Curti, Venner, Trussoni, and even my husband’s family name, Penchi.

Steven and Karen Woodhouse with grandsons Reid and Grady Nicklay.

The tradition of rallying together when a need is identified dates back to the current school building, which opened in 1952. It was constructed by parishioners (overseen by an area contractor), and older students spent their recesses hauling concrete blocks and bricks.
That generosity continues.

When word got out about the need for updated technology, the Women’s Group partnered with the PTO and students to dig up and sell hostas during a fundraiser this spring.

Teamwork is constant. Years ago, the oldest boys were assigned the task of carrying in firewood and keeping the woodstove going during school hours. Today, the older children clean lunchroom tables and sweep and mop the cafeteria floor after everyone eats.

And that teacher vacancy? Woodhouse’s prayers, perhaps combined with the novena prayed by parents and parishioners, may have gotten God’s attention — a new teacher was hired the week before school started.

By Anastasia Penchi

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