The St. Joseph of Cluny Sisters’ School (Cluny School), established in 1957, is a private Catholic elementary school for grades PK -8 and is incorporated into the Catholic School System of the Diocese of Providence. It is fully approved by the Rhode Island Department of Education and is accredited by the New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC). It is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) as well as of the Aquidneck Collaborative for Education (ACE). Cluny School is administered under the direction of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny and is staffed by lay teachers and Sisters.
Cluny School accepts students of all faiths and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, or ethnic origin. Cluny School has a long and distinguished history in Newport County.
In 1953, at the invitation of the Bishop of Providence, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny established their first Provincial House and Novitiate in the United States. The Provincial House was located on Brenton Road, in Newport, Rhode Island, across the street from the Arthur Curtis James estate, which was deeded to the Diocese of Providence in 1941. The James Estate was completed in 1910 with the “Beacon Hill House,” cottage and carriage houses, barns and seedling workshops. Many gardens were created and it had a working farm called “Swiss Village.”
Commander Black of the U.S. Navy was looking for a location to enroll Navy children, specifically kindergarten-aged children, as other area schools had reached their capacity. During this period there was a thriving Navy presence on Aquidneck Island and as all parochial schools were at capacity Captain and Mrs. Black asked Sister Angela Schwartz (provincial of the Cluny Sisters) to consider opening a school. He suggested to the Sisters that an existing building on the James estate be used to create a Kindergarten. Cluny School first opened its doors in September of 1957 with a small kindergarten. Each year a grade was added until the first Cluny eighth grade graduation in 1965.
In 1960 classrooms for grades 1-3 were constructed and were referred to as the ‘little school.” The stone cottages and the “carriage house” on Brenton Road were used as classrooms while the “big school” was constructed in 1965. Sisters throughout the Province worked and contributed to the cost of the expansion until 1978 the mortgage was retired.
Throughout the 1990’s an expansion was considered, but nothing evolved until the 2003 Station Night Club fire. New fire code changes were enforced and the school needed to comply. In August of 2007, the ground breaking ceremony sparked the renovation project and set the course for a year-long plan to improve the facilities. An addition was added to the 1965 portion of the school to house the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classrooms and a new wing was built from the 1965 auditorium for the upper grades. In the middle of building, an art/music room was created with much needed natural light and the full connection of a PK to 8th grade school emerged. In all, seven new classrooms were built and all the existing classrooms were renovated to bring the facilities up to “green energy” standards.
2011 to Present
In 2011, a technology audit was conducted by the Board of Directors to assess the needs for improvement at Cluny School. From the audit a magical transformation is happening through generous support from the community. Cluny School’s vision to educate the whole person in mind, body, and spirit, goes hand in hand with the progression of the technological needs for each student to lead lives of integrity with the infrastructure of the digital platform. Smart boards were added to the 5th through 8th grade classrooms, all classrooms received projectors and document cameras that link to desktops and now laptops in the lower grades. Wi-Fi enabled classrooms and meeting areas are equipped with the latest devices for remote access and management. All the students and teachers have roaming profiles and computer access in the classrooms and media center. As of academic year 2013-14, students in the upper grades have their own tablets to access literature and science e-books and “IXL” a mathematical challenge program. A new home and school online communication system was introduced via an e-cloud to bring up to the minute information. Parents have access to classroom announcements, progress reports, calendars, school news, weekly letters, Parent’s Club events and volunteer opportunities all in one place. A media center was designed to combined print and online media for research and discovery. A new portable charging cart housing 10 DELL Venue 11 tablets for daily use in the lower grades. Cluny students can go beyond the walls of the school in an instant to explore the world.
Over the Years
Over the years, Cluny School has expanded to provide a complete Pre-K to 8th-grade education. Cluny School is an exceptional Catholic elementary school made up of children from all the communities on Aquidneck Island, Jamestown and Tiverton. It is in a picturesque area of Newport hosting a wide variety of students from different Catholic parishes and Christian churches both in Rhode Island and abroad. Forty percent of our student body is non-Catholic and many of the students are from military families stationed at the Naval War College. Cluny School is fully accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Cluny School offers a faith filled community with outstanding academic programs in mathematics, science, social studies, language arts, media and technology, world languages and physical education. Through the years, our graduates have been accepted at many prominent private and public high schools.