Mission & Philosophy
St. Elizabeth Seton School, sponsored by the Daughters of Charity, is a nurturing community in the Vincentian tradition. We provide holistic learning and a challenging curriculum to children of low-income families. Rooted in our expectation that our students can succeed, we foster a passion for academic excellence. We strive to awaken compassion, service, and respect for self and others in our students. In partnership with our school families, we empower them to become responsible contributing members of our church and society.
Inspired by the spirit of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise De Marillac, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, we are committed to modeling their lives in service to the poor. As a Vincentian Catholic School, we are committed to the education of students from the low-income populations of East Palo Alto and the surrounding communities.
Schoolwide Learning Expectations
A Graduate of St. Elizabeth Seton School is
An Active Catholic who
- Models Christ-centered values
- Demonstrates honesty, kindness, respect, and compassion
- Participates regularly in prayer, sacraments and worship
A Lifelong Learner who
- Listens intently, communicates effectively, reads carefully, and follows directions
- Demonstrates prides in successfully completing all assignments
- Is well prepared academically to succeed in higher education
A Self Confident Individual who
- Makes responsible choices
- Exhibits leadership as an independent thinker
- Practices and promotes good sportsmanship
A Community Contributor who
- Serves others and contributes to society
- Values peace, and responds positively to problems of oppression and injustice
- Is a good steward of God’s creation
Schedule a Tour Today!
Come tour St. Elizabeth Seton School! One of the best ways to become acquainted with the mission of Seton School is to visit and see first hand the work that the children are doing. Tours are offered throughout the school year. Feel free to call the school for an appointment at (650) 326-9004. You will see our state of the art Preschool and Kindergarten building, the Science Center for Grades 5th – 8th grade and our Technology Lab that accommodates students from Kindergarten – 8th Grade. Inside the main building, all classrooms are equipped with LCD screens and interactive projectors. The school auditorium has a large stage for school performances, and also serves as a spacious meeting room for parent meetings, dances, and events. The school kitchen allows for preparation of breakfast and lunch daily, as well as nutritious afternoon snacks for our students.
The outdoor campus has a large playground structure, basketball courts, a volleyball court and a grassy field for soccer, baseball and other games. There are awnings installed just outside each classroom so students may eat their lunch protected from both the sun and rain. This spacious outdoor playground is an ideal environment for physical education classes, for children to play and be physically active during recess breaks, and is available for sports practices for the older children, who have the opportunity to engage in competitive athletics.
The parish Hospitality Center serves as a bright and enjoyable venue for parish meetings, fundraising events and Seton supporter gatherings. We have welcomed special guests here such as and the Honorable George Shultz, former Secretary of State.
St. Elizabeth Seton School: Dedicated to Educating the Children of East Palo Alto and the Surrounding Underserved Neighborhoods Since 1978.
The building we now know as St. Elizabeth Seton School was built in 1951 and was first named St. Thomas Aquinas School under the aegis of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. It was run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and enrolled the children of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish. A church, St. Albert the Great, was then built on the campus, and the school’s name was changed to reflect that of the church beside it. By 1972 the school’s enrollment was declining as demographics changed in Palo Alto and schools of all kinds closed their doors. Archbishop McGucken proposed consolidating with Our Lady of the Rosary School, also a Palo Alto school. Enrollment at both schools was still low, but by 1977 the Archdiocese took the bold step of committing itself to forming a Catholic Community School here, offering admission to children from East Palo Alto and the neighboring low-income communities. In 1978 the Sisters of Carondolet withdrew and the steering committee that was deciding the future of this school gave it a new name: St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic School of Palo Alto.
Beginning in 1981 several major changes took place when the Diocese of San Jose was formed, and under the new diocese St. Elizabeth Seton School became a “mission” school supported by the St. Thomas Aquinas parish community. However, the funding was not enough to sustain the school, and in the year 2000, at the request of the bishop, the Daughters of Charity made the decision to co-sponsor the school. This meant the Daughters of Charity Foundation would subsidize the operational costs while the Diocese of San Jose would take care of the maintenance and capital repairs to the campus. The school would remain a diocesan school and the staff would remain employees of the diocese.
Why St. Elizabeth Ann Seton? In the early 1800’s Elizabeth started a small school in Baltimore, MD which is considered the beginning of the Catholic school system in the United States. Other women came to join Elizabeth’s mission at this tiny school and became the nucleus of the first American order of Catholic sisters, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. This community spread and today consists of six different groups of Sisters of Charity, engaged in all kinds of good works. The sisters at Emmitsburg joined with the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in Paris in 1850, as Mother Seton had apparently wished. Mother Seton was canonized in Rome in September 1975.
Elizabeth Seton’s faith gave her supreme confidence that ultimately all would be well. In today’s world so full of confusion, this tiny and frail woman would not be intimidated. She would simply tell us to trust God and step forward. “Remember, pilgrim,” she wrote, “there are no roads. Roads are made by walking.”
We are honored to carry the name of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton as we continue our work with our students.
Daughters of Charity
In 1633 Vincent de Paul, a humble French priest, and Louise de Marillac, a widow, established the Company of the Daughters of Charity as a group of women dedicated to serving the “poorest of the poor.” Prayer and community life were essential elements of their vocation of service.
Almost two centuries later, Elizabeth Ann Seton, the American foundress of the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, adapted the rule of the French Daughters of Charity for her Emmitsburg, Maryland community. In 1850, the Emmitsburg community united with the international community based in Paris.
Today, the Daughters of Charity are an international community of over 19,000 Catholic women ministering all over the world. The Daughters of Charity still serve the “poorest of the poor.” Their ministry touches those in need through education, health care, social and pastoral services.