Petrice Sanderson came to St. Angela School when her son, Dejon, was in preschool.  She felt welcome, befriended; she knew that Dejon was safe, and better yet, that he was learning, he was happy.  As time went on, dropping off Dejon each morning wasn’t enough for Petrice, who was looking for a new job— “I wanted to spend the day at St. Angela, too”—so she accepted a position as an afterschool care aide. 

That was ten years ago. Dejon moved on, of course, but Petrice stayed and gradually became the go-to person for school parents, students, faculty and staff. She is the office manager, enrollment specialist, nurse, tuition and scholarship expert, orderer-of-field-trip-busses, short-term sub. She is generally acknowledged—with love and gratitude, and without reservation, even by the principal—as the person who runs the school. 

Principal Bruce Schooler is new to St. Angela this fall but says he already can’t imagine the school without her. “The importance of Petrice to our families is immeasurable. She knows them all, knows their stories and their circumstances. Because of the deep connection she has with the community she makes the impact we have on Austin possible. She is strong, resilient, practical and totally reliable. She is a hero to me – someone who is willing to do whatever she can for the people she represents. How blessed we are that she’s here!”

“Everyone needs to be needed,” Petrice says, “to find a way to serve and to make someone else’s way a little easier. I’m really fortunate that I’ve found that at St. Angela – a second home, a second family. There are hard days for all of us, but we are a community and we know these struggles, and these worries, intimately. There is a lot of sorrow out there, but there is a lot of joy as well. I think I came to St. Angela for the joy, but I’ve stayed to help with the sorrow. And I’ve learned that it is the blending of the two that makes our lives worth living.” 

St. Angela School has been serving the families of Chicago’s west side for one hundred years. Find out more about our community and donate at

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