[Editor’s Note: Students aren’t the only ones returning to school this fall. Hundreds of parents are reorganizing their crammed schedules to stay involved in their children’s classrooms and with their sports teams and social events. In an effort to recognize this dedication, Noozhawk is beginning a weekly series of parent profiles — if they can spare a second to speak with us. If you know a parent who deserves a moment in the spotlight for his or her behind-the-scenes efforts, send a nomination to email@example.com.]
“I just want this to highlight St. Raphael’s before myself,” Slaught said.
The request is not surprising. With his two oldest children at Bishop Diego High and the youngest in fifth grade at St. Raphael, Slaught has taken an active pride in Goleta’s “hidden jewel” campus for more than 13 years.
St. Raphael School is concealed behind St. Raphael Church on Hollister Avenue, bordered to the west by the Pacifica Suites. Slaught says the location’s security is what first brought his family to the school, but the close campus community has drawn them in.
“The principal and the teachers remind you that parents are the primary educators of the kids,” said Slaught. “So they really encourage you to be involved.”
Both Slaught and his wife have been actively participating in school programs for many years at St. Raphael, which enrolls preschoolers through eighth-graders.
One unique strategy that Slaught says promotes unity within the St. Raphael student body is the “school families” program, in which older students are paired with two younger students in a mentorship program of sorts.
“It keeps the eighth-graders, who have senioritis terribly by that time, kind of plugged in to the younger kids,” said Slaught. “Plus, the younger kids really look up to the older kids.”
Slaught himself has kept plugged in at St. Raphael largely on the business side. As vice president of Investec’s commercial real estate division, he’s used his professional skills to not only advance but co-found various school committees.
“The principal is so good and the teachers are so good that you want them doing what they do well,” said Slaught. “You don’t want them to have to run the business.”
Slaught got started helping with an annual auction benefit and was soon recruited to help on the finance committee, overseeing school budgetary operations with other parent volunteers.
“I did that for six or seven years and then we — the principal, a couple other people from the finance committee and I — started a development committee about five years ago,” he said.
The development committee focuses on long-term funding visions for the school, as well as expanding to include nonparent members. There is even a quarterly newsletter from the board to report on school projects and news.
Slaught served as board president for two years and is secretary this year, helping oversee smaller committees and attending monthly meetings.
“We’ve made some money each year and been able to spend it on scholarship and tuition for families who can’t afford but want to go to school there,” said Slaught. “We’ve spent a big chunk of it on a new roof for the school this year, new carpeting for the classrooms, stuff like that.”
Currently, Slaught’s committee is planning the fifth annual “Blue and Gold Sparkle Event,” a casino night fundraiser on Oct. 11 at the Santa Barbara Carriage & Western Art Museum.
The parents, said Slaught, pitch in with respective day-job resources to make the night special. Wine, printing and many hours of planning are all donated by dedicated parents.
“It’s just kind of one of the priorities you make,” said Slaught. “At this particular school they make sure you are involved — you don’t just drop them off and pick them up. I have a lot of fun with my kids and with other kids, too.”
MVP: Jim Slaught
School: St. Raphael School; 300 students; private, preschool through eighth grade
Location: 5444 Hollister Ave., behind St. Raphael Church
Noozhawk intern Mollie Helmuth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.