Academic Excellence in Catholic Academies and Parish Schools

Submitted by Dr. Elizabeth Frangella, Associate Superintendent for Curriculum

In the Diocese of Brooklyn, we strive for Academic Excellence in all academies and parish schools. Our primary subject is religion, and as Catholic academies and parish schools, we provide a Faith Based Education and strive for Excellence in the teaching of religion, as well as any of the other subjects. For each of our academies and parish schools, Catholic Identity is infused in everything that we are and that we do. We know that parents are the first and primary teachers of the faith and so we collaborate with parents, inviting parents to participate in those faith experiences and in that faith journey through prayer, sacraments and learning. Our children perform all kinds of service to their local and larger community as part of Catholic Social Teachings.

Standards Based Teaching and Learning is a part of that philosophy of Academic Excellence. When teachers have a common goal of teaching the standards that we follow, they move from being just teachers of a textbook to opening the world to their students in a different way. Just think about how you learn. Each person may learn at different times, or with different amounts of assistance. Teaching and learning has changed with standards based education. We use real world experiences and examples to help students learn in all content areas. When it was time for you to learn to drive a car as an adult, how long did you practice driving? Did you pass your driving test the first time? Did you study long and hard, failing a few times or was it easy for you? Or look at another example~ When you learned how to swim, did you jump in the pool after simply reading the directions? Did you use “swimmies” or some other life vest in the water? Were you able to enter the pool and just start swimming?

For students, we may give them the challenge to figure out how to build a pool in a backyard, using area and perimeter and weight in math class. Those math facts and formulas become real to them because a pool is something they are interested in having. In Science, we may be teaching about reflexes and muscles and how important they are when swimming or riding a bike or performing a dance routine. In STEM, we may be teaching the mechanisms of an engine and what makes that work, and asking students to make a mock product. Perhaps we are looking at a checkbook in math, and teaching students how to balance their money to pay for groceries or to budget for something they would like to have. In Social Studies, we may be looking at their community and with Catholic Social Teachings infused, allow students to organize a food or clothing drive for those in need. Real world experiences are a part of all that we teach, and making information relevant to students helps them learn. In recent years, we have seen new standards and frameworks in English Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and now in Science. The State has recently released the Next Generation Standards, New York State’s replacement of the Common Core.

Our teachers and principals are constantly learning, too. They will be learning about the Next Generation Standards and what they look like in the classroom. They continue to learn about their faith as well as content areas through ongoing professional development.

We encourage parents to be involved in their child’s education, participating in school and academy events and collaborating with classroom teachers and other support staff to continue to understand how and what their children are learning.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has served students and families for more than 190 years in schools and academies. Well established New York City families, as well as new immigrant families are all part of whom we serve. Some of those students are English Language Learners or Gifted, or have Special Needs and so our teachers are involved in professional development to gain skills to teach all students.

We are grateful for you and for your decision to send your child to a Catholic School. We are very proud of all that we do to make strong, rigorous, and inviting Catholic schools participating in the mission of building up the Church in the Diocese of Brooklyn. We ask for your continued partnership, as we educate your children together, and as we prepare students for prestigious high schools, for their place in college and in the world.