St. Louis City Schools

Three questions, three families: St. Margaret of Scotland School

This is the first in a series of short stories we are doing called: “Three questions, three families.” In the series we will interview families to get a snapshot of what parents think about their school of choice.

We are kicking it off with St. Margaret of Scotland (SMOS), a private Catholic school serving students from pre-K through 8th grade, located in the historic Shaw neighborhood.

We spoke to the Spruiel, Molner and Florida families to get their opinions on St. Margaret’s.

Stacey and David Spruiel have two sons enrolled at St. Margaret’s.

What is the greatest thing going at this school?

St. Margaret of Scotland is a Blue Ribbon school. The teachers seem to have a vested interest in the academic success of the students. Students are challenged both in and outside of the classrooms, with opportunities to compete in several different competitions such as chess, robotics, history fair, science fair and athletics. Most of these extracurricular clubs are lead by parent volunteers. Community is one of the best things going at this school.

Who should win an award at this school, and why?

Without a doubt, the office manager, Chris Stephens. Mrs. Stephens goes above and beyond to make sure the children are cared for, events are run efficiently, she is the office manager, the nurse, the referee, a confidante to both the students and the parents. This is not to mention the role she plays to the principal, the teachers, and other staff members.

What can people do to make this school an even better place?

The school has a wide variety of diversity amongst the families and the student body. Some diversity amongst the teaching staff would be a great benefit.

Elise and Aaron Molner have a son and two daughters enrolled at SMOS.

What surprised you most when first sending your child to this school?

What surprised us most when our children started attending St. Margaret of Scotland School was how involved parents are at the school and the “small town” community feel. This is not a hands-off school. You are encouraged to volunteer and be a part of your child’s educational experience. There are a ton of opportunities for parents to get involved, depending on what you have time for. It could be volunteering to coach an athletic team, working a pizza day, helping with art class, working in the library or being a part of the auction committee. We have found that our involvement has helped us develop friendships with other parents but, more importantly, we feel like we have a stake in the school and our children’s education.

What does this school have that no other school in the area offers?

St. Margaret of Scotland School has a number of things going for it that set it apart from other schools in the area:

  • We are incredibly diverse socioeconomically and racially. This is important to us and was one of the primary drivers for us when we decided to move into the city from Webster Groves.
  • The sense of community is incredible and the fact that we are a parish school adds to that and offers opportunities for our family to get even more involved in the neighborhood. Our kids are growing in their faith and able to act on it by doing things like preparing meals for others and putting together food baskets for St. Vincent DePaul.
  • The school is in a walkable neighborhood with close proximity to great resources like the Missouri Botanical Garden and Tower Grove Park. The kids go on multiple walking field trips to both locations each year.
  • Selfishly, school is only 4 blocks from our house and we are able to walk our kids to school!

What do your children think of this school?

The kids love 'all the nice teachers,' 'pizza lunch every Friday,' 'Dragon’s Grove' (the name for the school garden), friends, and sports.

Cheryl and Jeff Florida have a son and a daughter enrolled at SMOS.

What false impression of this school do outsiders have that you’d like to correct?

A false impression I frequently hear about is that you have to be Catholic to attend a Catholic school and confusion about what a “Catholic curriculum” is. The families and children who attend SMOS are a reflection of the vibrant community that surrounds it. We are a diverse, progressive school where 31% of its student body non-Catholic. Our children go to Mass on Friday, prayers are said, pets are blessed, and there is a Christmas play that the whole school participates in. Really, all I see is good from our Catholic core.

What does this school have that no other school in the area offers?

Our original school building was built for the parish in 1918 so we have almost 100 years of learning behind us. We embrace diversity and are not on the decline; we are thriving. We have a great Montessori and traditional program for pre-K and Kindergarten. We are a nationally recognized Blue Ribbon School with solid academics. Our teachers, our faculty, and our families are dedicated to the growth of our children. Our kids take walking field trips to the Botanical Garden and to Tower Grove Park; our choir sings at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital at Christmas time… really I could go on.

What is the greatest thing going at this school?

The greatest thing going on is its growth. Our family has been at SMOS since 2007. In that time we have acquired land and built a children’s garden; developed both an art and a music program. We built collaborations with the Missouri Botanical Garden, Cardinal Glennon, and with Saint Louis University to help in the success of our school and our community. And currently, we are constructing a new building to accommodate our growth all the new students.

Tell us about your School!

Mark Groth

Mark Groth, a 20-year St. Louis resident and father of three, is an avid blogger and St. Louis booster. Mark's interested in St. Louis history, schools, neighborhoods, parks and culture. is a guide to schools in the city of Saint Louis; made for parents, by parents.

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