Academics

The curriculum of St. Mary’s Catholic School is a blend of Archdiocesan, State, and National content area standards that are updated and modified accordingly through regular communication with local and state educational leaders. In doing this, St. Mary’s maintains current academic requirements for students entering both public and private high schools.

Specifically, our curriculum includes religion, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, Spanish, media, art, music, computer and physical education.

Foreign Language

Spanish is rapidly becoming the country’s second language, and it is our obligation to introduce St. Mary’s students to the advantages of being bilingual. Spanish, therefore, is offered as an academic enrichment subject in middle school to prepare students for more advanced studies in high school and college. With the foundation we provide, St. Mary’s students will have the ability to pursue Advanced Placement Spanish by their Junior or Senior year of high school should they so choose.

The foreign language curriculum is organized around the strands of Communication, Culture, Connections and Comparisons, and Communities. The curriculum is written to address both the foundational content knowledge students need and the skills necessary to mature as a learner in the 21st Century. Foundational grammar, mechanics, and usage as well as developmentally appropriate vocabulary and comprehension are essential to achieve these goals.

Language Arts

The language arts curriculum is organized around the strands of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Study Skills.  Inclusive of foundational grammar, mechanics, and usage as well as developmentally appropriate vocabulary, comprehension, and research skills the curriculum guide is intended to expose students to the creativity of literature and empower them to express themselves competently through the written and spoken word.

At the heart of our language arts program is SRA/McGraw-Hill’s Imagine It! reading and language arts curriculum. Winner of the 2008 Industry Award of Excellence by the Chicago Book Clinic Book and Media Show, Imagine It! combines the latest and most innovative knowledge about Differentiated Instruction with proven teaching approaches based on research, field study, documented classroom success and teacher input. It contains all the elements recommended by the National Reading Panel: instruction in phonological and phonemic awareness, explicit phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Imagine It! has been fully implemented at St. Mary’s from Pre-K through 6th grade, making our Language Arts curriculum one of the strongest in north Georgia.

The objectives set forth in the Language Arts Curriculum are not all intended to be assessed by tests or quizzes. Teachers are encouraged to creatively assess student performance through class work, homework, experiments/lab work, individual and group projects, etc.

Mathematics

The study of Mathematics as a means of exploring the world plays an integral role in the education of each student. While contributing to the development of the whole person, mathematics enriches life and provides students with practical tools for daily living. A hands-on approach to the basic mathematical ideas and concepts encourages children to experience mathematical relationships and interconnections.

The mathematics curriculum is organized around the strands of Numbers and Operations, Measurement, Data Analysis and Probability, Geometry, and Algebra. Common to all of these strands is the expectation of skill development in communication, problem solving and the use of technology. The curriculum is written to address both the foundational content knowledge students need and the skills necessary to mature as a learner in the 21st Century.

Enhancing our Mathematics curriculum in grades two through eight is the incorporation of MathScore as a supplement to classroom instruction. MathScore is a progressively adapting, grade and competency appropriate website proven to help students master over 200 topics from addition and multiplication all the way through Alegebra I.  Provided to our families at no additional cost, MathScore is another educational advantage that makes Saint Mary’s unique.

Students are grouped according to ability level for middle school mathematics so that those desiring to take Algebra in 8th grade will take Pre-Algebra in 7th grade.  Otherwise, students take Pre-Algebra in 8th grade and are ready to enter Algebra in their first year of high school.

Science

The Science curriculum is organized around the strands of Scientific Inquiry Skills, Environmental, Earth, Life, and Physical Sciences. These strands were identified and objectives written to provide students with the essential scientific knowledge they need to comprehend the basic underpinnings of science theory and fact and to be able to apply the scientific process in scientific inquiry. Common to all of these strands is the expectation that students will gain an understanding and appreciation of life as God’s creation and how we can be better stewards of life and the world in which we live. The curriculum is written to address both the foundational content knowledge students need and the skills necessary to mature as a learner in the 21st Century.

The Science curriculum provides students with a basic knowledge of science as it relates to their own experiences. Students utilize a hands-on, inquiry-based science program that integrates and develops basic knowledge, investigative experience, and curiosity through student involvement. Middle school students have the added benefit of laboratory experience.

Enhancing our Science curriculum is the incorporation of SEPUP (The Science Education for Public Understanding Program) in the Middle School.  One of the most unique aspects of SEPUP materials is its issue-oriented approach: SEPUP curriculum uses personal and societal issues to introduce and explore science concepts.

The objectives set forth in the Science Curriculum are not all intended to be assessed by tests or quizzes. Teachers are encouraged to creatively assess student performance through class work, homework, experiments/lab work, individual and group projects, etc.

Social Studies

The Social Studies curriculum is organized around the themes of Historical Understanding, Citizenship, Geography, and Economics. The curriculum is written to address both the foundational content knowledge students need and the skills necessary to mature as a learner in the 21st Century. Using these themes the topics of the Catholic Church, United States, Georgia, and the World Community are studied throughout the curriculum. These themes provide the framework as well for the development of Historical and Geographical skills and an appreciation for the basic tenets of state and national government and economic concepts across grade levels.

The school’s Social Studies curriculum begins with a study of communities and regions and their interactions. 4th grade introduces the students to U.S. history and Georgia history. World history is addressed in 5th grade with a study of the Eastern hemisphere and continued in 6th grade with a study of the Western hemisphere. A more detailed study of U.S. history and Georgia State history completes the curriculum in 7th and 8th grade.

The objectives set forth in the Social Studies Curriculum are not all intended to be assessed by tests or quizzes. Teachers are encouraged to creatively assess student performance through class work, homework, individual and group projects, etc.

Religion

Religion is the heartbeat of SMS. The goal for the religion curriculum is to instill in students an enthusiasm for living the Christian faith, while providing an in-depth religious education, including experiences in prayer, the sacraments, and service. Religion is offered during designated periods of each class’s daily schedule.  Furthermore, it is lived out and reinforced in our daily actions as a praying Christian community. Students participate in liturgies, celebrating a variety of themes directly relating to everyday living, as well as special occasions such as feast days of saints.

The Religion Curriculum of the Archdiocese of Atlanta is based on the four pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  • Creed (what we believe)
  • Sacraments (how we celebrate)
  • Christian living (how we live)
  • Prayer (how we pray)

The curriculum is comprised of fifteen achievement standards, which are spiraled each year from grades Pre-K through 12.   Each achievement standard contains a rationale, assessment categories, and sample assessment tasks.  These offer practical suggestions to introduce, teach, and assess the achievement standards.

In order to connect classroom catechesis with the Liturgy, attention should be given to the seasons and feasts of the liturgical year, including Marian feasts and memorials of saints.

Technology

The Technology curriculum is organized around the content standards of Keyboarding, and Operations and Concepts as well as skill standards in the areas of Research, Communication, Creativity/Innovation, and Critical Thinking. Linking the standards are objectives in Ethics and Digi

 

tal Citizenship. The curriculum is written to address both the foundational content knowledge students need and the skills necessary to mature as a learner in the 21st Century. Knowing how to appropriately use technology in an academic setting, being able to effectively apply that knowledge, and acting in a safe and ethical manner while doing so are all key tenets of the Technology Curriculum.

The SMS Computer Lab features 25 desktop computers and one mobile laptop cart with 20 wireless enabled notebooks. The curriculum includes instruction in keyboarding, MS Office, and safe and appropriate educational Internet usage. Computers within the lab and throughout the school are networked for the school’s intranet and can access the World Wide Web via LAN or Wi-Fi.

Physical Education

The goal of this curriculum is to encourage individual wellness and lifetime physical activity. These goals are accomplished through the development of age appropriate movement skills, life skills and cooperation in a positive environment. The Mind/Body/Spirit concept of Physical Education and Wellness seeks to foster a positive experience and maximize appreciation of a healthy lifestyle. Through an exploration of Mind/Body/Spirit, learners seek to acquire a deeper understanding essential for their own growth and development.  Swimming is offered in Grades 3 and 5.

Art

The goal of the Art curriculum is to encourage an appreciation of/for the visual arts. By exploring a wide variety of mediums, techniques and processes, students will gain knowledge of the structures and functions of art.  Through evaluation of a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas, connections will be made between the visual arts and other disciplines. While we understand it is the curriculum that drives the educational process, the visual arts allow for creative expression of our religious beliefs.  As students reflect and respond to the work of others, they gain a better understanding of their own work and their surrounding visual culture.

Music

The goal of the Music curriculum is to encourage an appreciation and understanding of music.  Through theexploration of the five elements of music students will gain knowledge of the structure and function of instrumental, vocal, and liturgical music.  Through evaluation of a range of subject matter, symbols and ideas, connections will be made between music and other disciplines.  While we understand it is the curriculum that drives the educational process, music allows for creative expression of our religious beliefs. Saint Mary’s students put on at least one musical each year and perform at various PTA, civic, and community events.