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 the regional schools. Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Middletown and Most Precious Blood in Walden have continued to grow their PreK programs with this support.
St. John School in Goshen used these tools and built on them with a new educational model. Starting with the 2021/22 school year, St. John School specifically was made into an Early Childhood/Elementary School, hosting students in Grades PK – 5. Burke Catholic Academy was created for students in grades 6 – 8 and is hosted on the Burke Catholic High School grounds. No matter where in Orange County you live, there are Catholic School available options for your family needs. All of these opportunities offer the same robust sense of community, have served to bolster our enrollment and continue to create the foundation for a lifelong love of learning in our children.
All students in grades kindergarten through 8th grade are now fully engaged in the blended learning program. Each of our Regional Catholic Schools continues to upgrade the number of Chromebooks and other equipment as needed. 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.
Schools in the Ulster/Sullivan/Orange Region have transitioned 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. These interactive tools assisted students as we changed the way they learn and are assessed. All of our regional schools have returned to their MAP testing schedules which have consistently reflected growth in both Math and ELA. In all grade levels of MAP testing, we can project achievement percentiles indicating success on all NYS Math & ELA Assessments.
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.