Catholic Schools Develop Specialized Programs to Prepare Students for Workforceby Ginny Wallace
Catholic school graduates receive high praise from employers. They say students graduating from our schools display superior academic performance and an unparalleled sense of values, character, discipline, structure, accountability and leadership. These compliments indicate a solid foundation. Now our elementary schools are adding specialized programs to further boost the marketability of our students to prepare them for the challenges of the future job market.
To prepare their K-8 students to become the leaders, problem solvers and creative thinkers of the future, St. Joseph University School in Buffalo created the FLIGHT Gifted and Talented Program. Its goal is to provide a curriculum that offers challenge and acceleration for identified students so they will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to face the many innovative challenges they
will encounter in the 21st century marketplace. The research based program helps students to focus on their unique talents and abilities, then teaches them how to capitalize on these strengths to brainstorm, problem solve and to think creatively, critically more effectively working toward collaborative thinking and engagement.
The Center for Health Science at Annunciation School in Elma is an innovative two-year curriculum, open to 7th and 8th graders, that offers students a hands-on opportunity to receive health certifications, prepare research projects, explore health career opportunities and delve into interesting subjects such as ecology, nutrition, forensics, drug awareness and more. Filled with educational field trips and interesting guest speakers and funded through business sponsors and individual donations, the program is now completing its second successful school year and has students considering a future in biotechnology, diagnostic services, health infomatics and/or therapeutic services; the projected jobs of the future.
In an effort to provide their students an opportunity to better compete in today's high tech world and raise the caliber of learning, Mary Queen of Angels Regional Catholic School in Cheektowaga transformed their existing computer lab into an exciting state-of-the-art, hands-on learning environment for use by all grades complete with computer tables, chairs, Macintosh computers, digital cameras, video equipment and a Smartboard. The newly named Media Arts Center is unique among Western New York elementary schools.
With the recent implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards and its focus on college and career readiness, Catholic across the diocese schools continue to ensure that our students are prepared for high school, college, careers and life. To accommodate the various learning styles of our students, many schools have increased the number of tablet computers and integrated the use of interactive Whiteboards into their overall curriculum. These devices encourage student engagement and provide teachers the potential to flip the classrooms. Flipping the classroom is a new method of teaching where students might be asked to view a specific lesson their teacher has prepared for them at home and follow it up with practice, possibly by using an interactive educational video as support for the lesson. This frees up class time for teachers to reinforce the new skill through communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. These hands on, interactive teaching methods help develop and reinforce the skills necessary for our students to be successful in the 21st Century.