State-of-the-art technology continues to change the way students are learning throughout Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange counties.
These 21st century tools allow our educators to teach each child, to his or her strengths, at a pace calibrated to their individual abilities. Through the Smart Schools Bond Act, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School was able to purchase a Promethean Activ-Panel (interactive board) for each classroom using funds from a grant. Teachers use these boards for instruction and reinforcement of key skills in mathematics and ELA. For example, the teacher can project a video or an interactive game dealing with the skill being taught during or after the lesson to check the students’ understanding and mastery of the content. The students love this new and innovative way to learn.
With the expansion of the Office of Early Childhood into the upper counties we are working to build a foundation for our youngest learners that is in keeping with the New York State Pre-Kindergarten Learning Standards. This expansion of programming is supported by enhanced professional development for our region’s teachers given by a highly qualified, regionally employed, team of instructional specialists. The team of instructional specialists, in addition to offering formal professional development, goes into early childhood classrooms across the region and works with teachers on strategies targeted specifically to their student populations. Our newly furnished classrooms, donated by Lakeshore Learning and other partners has further contributed to the high quality programming at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School in Middletown, St. Stephen-St. Edward School in Warwick, and Divine Mercy School in New Windsor. In our classrooms you will find authentic student work grown through center-based, play-focused instruction. This child centric model, in combination with the robust sense of community found in our schools, has served to bolster our enrollment and create the foundation for a lifelong love of learning in our children.
Both St. Stephen-St. Edward School and Kingston Catholic School extended their blended learning program for the third year. All students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade are now fully engaged in this program. Each school continues to upgrade the number of Chromebooks and other equipment as needed.
Several of the schools in the Ulster/Sullivan/Orange Region are transitioning to a digital platform called Google Classroom. This virtual classroom helps to streamline the process of sharing files between teachers and students. Teachers can create classes which students can then join, and assignments are distributed electronically. Students can complete these assignments in class or at home and submit to teachers for grading. Teachers can monitor the progress of each student, and after being graded, teachers can return work along with comments. A benefit to using this digital platform is that it helps instructors to meet the individual needs of their students, whether it is helping to close an academic gap or moving a student beyond a topic that they have mastered. Assignments can be differentiated for each student’s learning abilities.
The desire to succeed academically in our schools is matched by a desire to be of service to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Our students embrace the fact that as Catholics they are a part of something larger than themselves, and just as with their academics, they do good works impacting others, one human being at a time. For example, St. John School in Goshen has a program called “Parish Pals.” It is a school wide community service that sends cards to house-bound parishioners to stay connected with them and to let them know that prayers are being sent their way. Some parishioners will write back to the class. The cards are sent once a month throughout the whole year.
Additionally, the eighth grade class at Sacred Heart School in Monroe conducts an outreach project for the parish-based program “Our Father’s Kitchen,” which is run by the Pastor Rev. Thomas Byrnes. The outreach project consists of the eighth grade students baking 50 pies for the Thanksgiving Feast that the parish hosts at the school.