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Academics

The teachers and staff at St. Mary's are joyful Catholics who love their neighbors, respect life and treat all people with dignity and respect.  We  reflect the presence of God in our classrooms and as a community, we focus on excellence in academics. 

St. Mary's School uses Standards Based Instruction in our classes.   Standards Based Instruction is a cycle of teaching and learning that ensures that all students learn and can demonstrate proficiency in the content standards, concepts and skills in each of the curriculum areas of math, social studies, reading, language arts, science, religion, physical education, art, and music.   Student achievement is measured with a variety of formats and assessments.  Teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to learn until they master the skill or concept that is taught.  Our curriculum is aligned with the standards in each of the subject area and teachers work hard to focus on student learning with persistence and strategic use of time and resources.  Grades are based on achievement.  Non-academic factors like: work habits, effort, responsibility, and attendance are not counted in a grade.  A separate report is assigned to explain behavior.  Parents will have reliable information each quarter, with more detail to help describe student progress and growth over time.

Standards based instruction answers four questions:

1.      What do students need to know, understand and be able to do?

2.      How will we teach effectively to ensure students learn?

3.      How will we know that student have learned?

4.      What do we do when students don’t learn or reach proficiency before expectation?


Differentiation

To make sure that every student learns we use differentiation.  This accounts for differences between the ways that students differ in ability, interest, or style of learning. We want students to make sense of what they are learning through organization, written and oral communication.  Students learn by working on projects together and building on what they already know.  Our job is to maximize learning for each student. Some children may grasp ideas quickly and others may need more practice to learn and master material.  Teachers focus on a student’s prior knowledge, interests and styles of learning by using differentiation. Teachers provide Differentiated Instruction is to maximize student growth and individual success by providing many ways to learn.

The small class sizes and multi-age students in our school allow teachers to adjust their teaching to meet the student’s needs.  Sometimes a child needs more time to practice a skill.  The student might make many mistakes as they are learning to master a skill.  We want students to see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and make corrections.  Student who make corrections on assignments are able to show that they understand the material.  The teacher figures out what the student doesn’t understand, and then re-teaches the material to help the student master the concept.  Continuous assessment during this process helps the teacher focus on improvement over time. Different methods or materials may be used to help the student learn the material. We believe that allowing students to redo assignments and assessments is a good way to prepare them for adult life. 

Courses offered at each grade level include daily: Religion, Math, Reading, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science.  Physical Education is offered twice a week.  Technology instruction, music, and art is offered once a week.  Band and Chorus are offered to grades 5-8 from River Ridge.




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