Thursday, September 6, 2012

Curriculum Night 2012 - 13

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every sin and burden that clings to us and run with perseverance the race marked out before us, while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of our faith.”
-Hebrew 12: 1-2

Incarnation Catholic School is off and running so far this year! In two weeks, there is a momentum and energy across our campus that is palpable. It’s tangible. There is an excitement in classrooms. There is a spirit in our worship. There is a different pace and feel to this year as compared to the previous ones.

We are off and running.

I think there are many reasons for the difference:

-Outstanding teachers
-New organizational structures and programs
-High support and involvement from parents
-Great kids

Let us unpack each of those.

Outstanding teachers: Our teachers are committed to continuous improvement. They have worked hard on course timelines, unit plans, incorporating the Common Core State Standards, assessment philosophies and practices and codifying policies and procedures across the campus. I am honored to work with such a dedicated group of educators. I have been especially impressed this year with how they have collaborated with each other – just today I stopped into the computer lab to see a joint Spanish / Technology class that had students absolutely buzzing about both Spanish and technology. Teachers have been innovative in helping to tweak the many programmatic changes we’ve made this year, from coming up with more efficient ways to supervise students after school to proposing interdisciplinary approaches to delivering the curriculum, similar to the Spanish / Technology joint venture I just mentioned.

We’re able to run because we have outstanding teachers. 

New organizational structures and programs: We revamped our entire school day. Small tweaks in our starting and stopping times as well as the amount of time in between classes have yielded, in my opinion, some huge dividends.

We are able to gather every day as a school community for what we are calling “Morning Gathering”. This is a time for us to celebrate birthdays, offer announcements and promote our school’s mission through a “Thought for the Day”. These short sessions allow me as the school’s leader to convey important information to our school community while at the same time keeping us focused on the purpose for our school – Jesus Christ.

Students in younger grades now have increased academic time for not only their Specials – PE, Art, Music, Media, Technology and Spanish – moving from 30 to 45 minutes, but they also have what would equate to 12 Language Arts periods each week (up from 10 last year) and 6 Math periods (up from 5). This emphasis on these core subjects allows us to lay a solid educational foundation for students during these early years.

Students in Grades 5 – 8 now have three Spanish classes each week (up from one last year). In addition, they have two periods of Technology each week, with a third coming as an interdisciplinary class with LA, Science or Spanish (this increase in Technology is also up from one class last year). We have also introduced a Health class to our PE program for grades 6 – 8, affording our Physical Education Department the opportunity to couple physical activity with sport specific, kinesthetic, and biological knowledge.

We’ve done all of this without costing ICS families any additional costs and without sacrificing times such as recess or lunch.

We’re running because we have great teachers and we have a strong plan.

High support from parents: I have talked with students many times throughout the course of this short year about how at ICS they are, as St. Paul says, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”. Part of this cloud entails our outstanding teachers. The other part is composed of their outstanding parents. Parents are the primary educators of their children. We are so honored that parents have partnered with us to help them in the formation of their student(s). It is a responsibility that we take seriously – we understand that we are writing on the souls of children. There isn’t a more important job that any of us could be doing. We thank our parents for running with us at ICS.

We have great teachers, a strong plan, supportive parents, and we have outstanding kids.

ICS students continue to impress me with their love of learning and their love of God. They have a desire to be successful and they are good kids. They’re respectful, they’re hard working, they are committed to doing the right thing and helping others. The best parts of my day are when I get to interact with our students. It is my privilege to be their principal.

We are running. We have a great cloud of witnesses here at ICS. By reorganizing our structure and reimagining some of our programs we have rid ourselves of the burdens that clung to us in the past. We will do all that we can to stay focused on and committed to our wonderful mission of inspiring life-long learners, disciples of Christ and servants of all. We will do all that we can to stay focused on the reason for our school – Jesus Christ.

And this year, we will run with perseverance the race that is marked out before us.

We are off and running. Thank you for running with us.