Leading the ceremony were President Vincent Cazzetta and Principal Kathleen Guyger. Campus Minister Father Alessandro Giardini blessed the learning center and the many guests in attendance. PJP was honored to have State Rep. Jose Webster, State Senator Katie J. Muth representing our partnership with our local community and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We were also grateful for the support of the Office of Catholic Education and that Mr. Jay De Fruscio, the Chief Operating Officer, Mrs. Nancy Kurtz, interim superintendent of secondary education, Dr. Trish Rigby, assistant director of secondary schools, and Dr. Danielle Heeney, Director of Special Education for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia were able to join us for the celebration.

The Panthers’ Learning Center (PLC) will be PJP’s hub of student support and is designed to meet the academic, social, and emotional needs of our students in order to foster their success and sustain their well-being. The PLC is located in the former Student Center. It offers two specialized classrooms, one traditional and one flexible. The PLC offers space for students to collaborate with one another, work on projects together, and share ideas. A centerpiece of the room is a tiered instructional space with a Promethean ActivPanel, a next-generation interactive panel designed for learning. 

The PLC will also be home to the school’s newest academic offering, the Panthers Achieving Worthwhile Success (PAWS) program. Recognizing that all students approach learning from a unique and individual position, Pope John Paul II High School will now offer the PAWS program to best support learners who require additional resources beyond traditional classroom offerings. The PAWS program is available to students with a diagnosed learning difference supported with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504 documentation, or a note from a medical provider.

Both the PAWS Program and the Panthers’ Learning Center are operated by Mr. Joseph Rogers, in the newly formed position of Director of Academic Support. Mr. Rogers holds a master’s degree in Special Education from St. Joseph’s University and brings with him five years of experience in Catholic education. He recently completed the Alliance for Catholic Education program through St. Joseph’s University and is looking forward to this next chapter in his career. Mr. Rogers shared, “It is a blessing to be able to support all learners in this dynamic and beautiful space. I am excited to be part of a community that intentionally designs programs to meet the needs of the students entrusted to our care.”

The Panthers’ Learning Center and PAWS program are made possible by a grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education, the successor name to the Archdiocesan Education Fund. This charitable organization was created and funded by Matthew H. McCloskey, Jr. (1893-1973), building contractor and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland (1962-64), in 1967 to advance Catholic education and evangelization throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The name of the Fund was changed in February 2020. PJP President Vinnie Cazzetta stated, “We are incredibly grateful for the generous support and partnership of the Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education. This Panthers’ Learning Center and the PAWS program are game changers for our school and enhances our ability to welcome all learners to Catholic education.” 
Additional support for the Panthers’ Learning Center was provided through the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program, a funding resource provided by the Department of Education to Governor Wolf through grants for eligible non-public schools to address the impact of the pandemic on students and faculty, including mental health and learning support.