The parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin was established on the south bank of the St. John’s River in the autumn of 1913. The first Mass was offered in a rented store. The original Assumption School was constructed at the corner of Gary and Naldo Streets in 1923. This first school was quite small and accommodated 110 students. Classes were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine. In 1948, while Father James Cloonan was pastor of the parish, land was purchased on Atlantic Boulevard. The existing building on the property, which was formerly the Merrill-Stevens Shipyard Administration Building, was converted into a school. This new Assumption School opened in September 1949 with 317 students. It also operated under new leadership provided by the Sisters of St. Dominic from Adrian, Michigan. In 1954, the Florida State Road Department acquired the property on Gary Street, and, in 1955, the present Assumption Catholic Church was built on property adjacent to the school. The growth of the parish and school continued, and, in 1958, the convent was constructed making space available for six additional classrooms. In 1965, under the leadership of Monsignor Harold Jordan, the fifth through eighth grade classrooms (Barry Hall) were built along with the Parish Hall (Jordan Hall). These additional buildings allowed the school to convert the old auditorium into a library and media center. Monsignor Eugene Kohls became the Pastor in 1977. During his time at Assumption, a new Activity Center (Kohls Hall) was built freeing the Parish Hall (Jordan Hall) for school use. A preschool for three and four year olds was implemented in 1986, and in 1996, the original school building was completely renovated and updated. Father Fred Parke became Pastor of Assumption Catholic Church in 2002. He came to Assumption from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Palm Coast. Father Parke began the Heritage and Horizons building campaign shortly after coming to Assumption. This campaign has led to further growth and development of Assumption campus over the last 15 years including, but not limited to, the Family Life Center, which opened in August 2008.
The Florida Catholic Conference first accredited Assumption in 1973 as one of the original schools to receive accreditation. The school has maintained this accreditation status up to the present day. The Assumption faculty and administration have also changed dramatically since the school started. In the early years of Assumption from 1923-1969, the principal and teachers were primarily nuns. Sister Patricia Eileen Consier was the last principal who was a nun. Since 1977, the principal has been a lay Catholic. Today, the teaching staff and principal are mostly lay Catholics. In the fall of 2006, under the guidance of Father Fred Parke, Assumption was blessed with four Sisters of the Home of the Mother, an order from Spain. Although they are not a “teaching order”, they do add a special dimension to our faith formation and spirituality. They visit the classrooms each week, accompany students in weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and have added two days of retreat and recollection to our school year. They help ensure Christ is the center of every aspect of education, religious formation, growth, and character development.
In conjunction with Assumption Catholic Church, Assumption Catholic School was blessed with the addition of the Early Childhood Learning Center in August 2016. The preschool offers full day, half day, and part time programs for infant’s ages 6 weeks through PreK-4. The preschool originally opened in 1986 under the direction of Principal Dr. Fred Lichtward. The preschool started with one PK3 class and one PK4 class. The Assumption preschool began to grow quickly and the following year added one PK2 class. The Assumption nursery opened nearly 20 years ago that served the children of teachers and staff. The Assumption school was thrilled to share this blessing with the rest of our Christian community and enjoy providing a whole child approach to education with these little ones with the opening of the Early Childhood Learning Center!
Assumption Early Childhood Learning Center was originally opened by Christina Petre. Christina Petre served as the director from August 2016 to June 2018. The Assumption Early Childhood Learning Center is now under the direction on of Kristin Spears. Kristin Spears began her love with Catholic education when she first started attending Assumption Catholic School in 1988 as a preschool student. Mrs. Spears graduated from Assumption in 1999 and then completed her high school education at Bishop Kenny High School in 2003. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development, with a minor in Psychology from Florida State University. Upon graduation, Mrs. Spears began working for the Diocese of St. Augustine as a PK4 teacher at Holy Rosary Catholic School. In 2011, Mrs. Spears accepted a position at Assumption Catholic School as a kindergarten teacher. In March 2018, Mrs. Spears became the Assistant Director at Assumption Early Childhood Learning Center and in July 2018 became the Director.
Assumption’s current Principal, Maryann Jimenez, began her years in Catholic education by first attending Assumption Catholic School and then San Jose Catholic. She then fulfilled her high school years at Bishop Kenny High School before attending Florida State University. As a summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Florida, Mrs. Jimenez began her teaching career in Duval County Public School. After working for three years at Richard L. Brown Elementary, Mrs. Jimenez began teaching 3rd grade at Assumption in 2010. It was during this time that she began work towards her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership through Saint Leo University graduating in December of 2014. During her degree completion, Mrs. Jimenez began serving as one of Assumption’s Assistant Principals in 2013. Mrs. Jimenez became principal of Assumption in August 2015 and continues to lead the school into the future. Assumption’s Assistant Principal, Jennifer Churchill, is a graduate of both Assumption Catholic School and Bishop Kenny High School. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Child Development from Florida State University. Shortly after graduating, Mrs. Churchill began teaching in the Diocese of Saint Augustine at Holy Rosary Catholic School (now The Guardian Catholic School). There, she began her career in administration as she earned her Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Saint Leo University. Mrs. Churchill became Assistant Principal of Assumption Catholic School in August 2015. Assumption is one of the oldest parochial schools in Jacksonville. The Assumption community looks forward to the future knowing that the school has been built on a solid foundation with principles and values that remain unchanged in an ever increasing, changing society.