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Increasing Enrollment

Principal and students at Nativity of Mary in Bloomington Minnesota

Catholic schools see second straight year of growth 

For the second straight year, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have grown enrollment by more than 1,200 students. It’s been 40 years since the archdiocese has experienced back-to-back increases. 

“This trend is reflective of the satisfaction families have in their school choice,” said Kelly Refsnider, director of enrollment for the Catholic Schools Center of Excellence. “Academic excellence, just-right class sizes, transformational opportunities and staff members joyfully dedicated to their vocation have attracted interest that hasn’t been seen in decades.” 

Student enrollment at Nativity of Mary Catholic School in Bloomington has increased more than 15% in the past three years. 

Ryan Pajak, principal of Nativity of Mary Catholic School in Bloomington, poses with students. Photo by Robert Cunningham

“When I started as principal in the 2019-20 school year, our enrollment was 323 students, and this year it’s at 383,” said Ryan Pajak, principal at Nativity of Mary.

Pajak noted that a major factor last year was the school’s commitment to in-person learning. “Once we had people here, they stayed,” he said. “Our new families resoundingly cited the community we have at Nativity as a major factor in their satisfaction.”

CSCOE significantly helped Nativity of Mary attract and retain new students. CSCOE encouraged and supported the hiring of an admissions coordinator to help welcome new families. She outlines marketing strategies, helps streamline the admissions process and keeps new families engaged.

Pajak cited the value of CSCOE’s quarterly Admissions & Marketing Squad meetings to connect with other Catholic schools and share recruitment and retention ideas. CSCOE’s Latino enrollment team is also instrumental in reaching families.

Pajak takes pride in nurturing personal faith lives, holding high academic standards and providing extracurricular opportunities, which have been cornerstones at Nativity of Mary.

“I was told when I started here that Nativity was Bloomington’s best-kept secret,” he said. “We are hoping to change that by cultivating a culture of growth and striving for excellence.”

–By Debbie Musser

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